As I continue to spotlight some amazingly dedicated radio programmers from other countries, Dutch DJ Jos Van den Boom is the first to mention the universal, worldwide question of what to do with all the CDs we accumulate.
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio?
Jos Van den Boom: It all started back in 1980. I had just finished high school. My first show was broadcast on a hospital radio station. In the early ’80s I also did a show for Radio Paladijn, a Belgian radio station, which played 99 percent Top 40 music. I only played alternative pop music on my Friday Night Show, which was called “EldoRadio.”
Soon community radio came up in the Netherlands. I was one of a group of people who started a radio station in my hometown, Bergen op Zoom. First I did a show on Sunday morning with Top 40 music. Over the years I have done a variety of programs.
In 1996, I decided to quit that kind of show and I started a weekly show, fully filled with music I really like. That was the start of Crossroads Radio. So it’s been on air for 19-and-a-half years now.
Where do you work now and what hours?
In 1984 I did a 6-hour night show on national radio (KRO) once. In those days I dreamt about a career in music. It was a great experience. Nevertheless, I noticed that “radio business” is not my cup of tea.
In 1981 I started working at a courthouse. I’m glad I have stayed there until now. I only make radio shows as a hobby. For me, [it’s] the best hobby there is!
Crossroads Radio Show is still broadcast by the community radio station in Bergen op Zoom [ZuidWest FM / 107.50 FM]. It’s on air every Sunday from 9 till 11 p.m. For about 15 years it’s also been available on the internet, including an extra hour with live recordings from the Crossroads Radio Sessions. The show is available via www.crossroadsradio.nl and via www.rootsparadise.com.
How do you describe your show?
I’m always determined to showcase the other side of country music — music many people don’t know. I also play acoustic blues, folk, and, especially, singer-songwriter music. Styles of music you don’t often hear on Dutch radio.
How do you define Americana music?
To me, Americana covers many forms of traditional music: country, bluegrass, singer-songwriter, folk, blues, and many, many more. In general it’s independent from the mainstream-manufactured sounds. Real instruments, real people, real music!
How do you prepare for your shows and do you have theme sets or spotlight certain artists?
Every day I am on the lookout for new music. I listen to a lot of stuff artists and record companies provide. I also buy a lot of CDs. During the first two hours of my show, I like to highlight one new album by playing three tracks, [and call it] “album of the week.” In the third hour of the show I play live recordings from the Crossroads Archives. Once a month, Crossroads sets up a recording session in a cozy theater in Bergen op Zoom’s city center. We record two acts then, in front of an audience of about 50 people who can attend those sessions for free. In the past 15 years we have recorded about 350 acts. Crossroads was fortunate enough to record people like Steve Young, Chip Taylor, Eric Taylor, Eliza Gilkyson, David Olney, Darrell Scott, Audrey Auld Mezera, Justin Townes Earle, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, and many, many more.
Every week I start the show with a song by an artist who has his or her birthday on the day of the broadcast. I play a lot of new stuff and some stuff from great albums from the past. A lot of the records I play are by American and Canadian musicians, but I also play songs from great Dutch musicians. There are a lot of great Americana musicians over here. People like J.W. Roy and Ad Vanderveen can compete with their American colleagues.
In the past I have also had many live guests on the show. For example I was fortunate enough to have Eric Andersen, Caroline Aiken, and Tandy chatting and playing live on the show. Nowadays I record my show at home. Inviting guests isn’t possible anymore. Once a year I have a show fully filled with [special] covers of Bob Dylan songs. I often ask artists who play live at Crossroads to do a Dylan song. [It’s] great material for my theme show.
How many new releases and independent artists do you play?
The majority of the music that I play is from independent artists. Both national and international. Nowadays even well-known artists, like Graham Nash, are opting to release their material independently. About 70 percent of the music played on Crossroads is new. The other 30 percent is mostly oldies.
What was the first artist or album that turned you on to roots music?
When I was a kid I heard a lot of music. In general it was Top 40 music. In those days I had a road show with two friends. We played music at parties, etc. I didn’t listen to singer-songwriter music or country music until the early ’90s. I think the first singer-songwriter album that triggered me was The Dark Ride by Iain Matthews. Then I started to listen to the great alternative country music that has been made in the past four decades. Until the ’90s I knew all the Top 40 stuff. Nowadays I don’t even recognize the number one, when it’s played on the radio. At home I only play music that suits my Crossroads Radio Show.
Right now, I have about 11,000 CDs. Last month I tried to put away some. When I picked five to give away to friends, I stopped. I can’t put any away.
Who are your favorite artists from any genre and what artists define Americana music for you ?
Way too many favorite singers to mention. Well, okay, a few: Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, John Hiatt, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, David Olney, Lyle Lovett. Not to forget: Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, etc.
Where do you see Americana radio going in the future?
I really don’t know. I try to attend as many shows of Americana artists as possible. It always pleases me when I notice younger people at gigs, but the truth is that the largest part of the audience is even older than me . … Nevertheless, I think there’s a future for Americana Radio shows. For a couple of years now young people have been getting more and more interested in singer-songwriter music. Probably those young kids will discover when and how it all started and they will get acquainted with the great albums made by people like Johnny, Hank, Townes, and all the others.
What recent albums or artists are you excited about?
In the Netherlands, we have recently discovered incredible artists from Oklahoma, like John Fullbright and John Moreland. At the moment Carter Sampson is doing well. I think her new record “Wilder Side” is the best album of 2016 so far. I’m also very excited about the new record by Terri Binion. She’s from Florida. About 10 years ago I put her in contact with some people in the Netherlands, who set up a tour for her. Of course she played at Crossroads then. After a break of about eight years she has now finally recorded a new CD, The Day After the Night Before.
I am also amazed at the standard of music being produced here in the Netherlands by people like the aforementioned J.W. Roy and Ad Vanderveen, to name only a few. I really could just go on and on.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or interests you wish to share?
Well, my number one hobby is music and radio. I have other interests, but they don’t even come close.