It’s 7pm on Thursday the 5th of March 2015, and in two hours Zane Lowe will be gone from BBC Radio 1 forever.
For the past 24 hours #ThanksZane has continuously trended on Twitter, with listeners weighing in, DJ’s in a competition with each other over who owes the most to Lowe and bands crediting him for their successes not only in the U.K. but on a global level. As I am writing this, every artist the DJ has played in the opening minutes of his final show has trended worldwide.
To those who haven’t tuned in for the past 12 years at 7pm from a Monday to Thursday the whole thing must seem like a giant fuss about nothing. But for those who know…. they know.
Since he was swooped up from XFM in 2002, Zane Lowe has become an institution; of radio, of music, of championing new talent and engaging with established acts in a way no one else can, as was seen in last week’s interview with Kanye West.
To have a radio DJ consistently play a part in pop culture by adding to it with his discovery of new music and by encouraging it with his unrivalled enthusiasm, Lowe was an oddity in a time when the BBC and commercial radio stations have been continuously under fire for their strict adherence to set playlists, and it’s the reason he’s probably the only nomination as this generation’s answer to John Peel.
It’s not his ‘Masterpieces‘ shows, it’s not messing with the ‘Drive‘ soundtrack, and it’s certainly not going to see Queens of the Stone Age over Beyonce that made Radio 1 the place to be of a weeknight. What turned Zane Lowe into an institution is what you might recognise as the hottest record in the world right now…
Since it’s inception in 2009, the nightly hottest record has not only proved Lowe‘s taste-making talent to the charts and BBC playlists but launched the careers of Jake Bugg, Alt-J and Wolf Alice to name but a few with those ever-promising first plays.
Never not sounding like he had a part-time job on the Waltzers, the hottest record advocated for the success of everyone from Sam Smith to Joey Bada$$ to Disclosure, never discriminating in stature, genre or sound whatsoever; the intros and backstory provided with each track always meaning more than the title of hottest record itself.
Zane was never an easy listen, but none of the greats are in entertainment. An obsessive music fan dedicated to bringing his listeners the best new sounds and the best exclusives, his absence will be felt not only on the airwaves but entirely across the U.K. industry. Although there could be no better replacement than Annie Mac, what we wouldn’t give for one more chance to ‘get onboard’.