Kaj Kindvall retires

Published December 12, 2014

Back in my teens, when home taping was killing music, the cassette recorder was a gods-end for music fans such as me who lacked the financial resources to buy all the music I wanted to own. During those years I was a keen listener to a show called Discorama, which aired on the P3 channel on Saturday afternoons. Hosted by Kaj Kindvall, who has just announced his retirement, it served up an eclectic mix of new record releases, mainly from the UK and the US, but also from other English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. From about 1978 up until the show's cancellation in 1984 I don't think I missed a single episode. If I wasn't at home when it was aired, I left careful instructions to my mother to switch on a reel-to-reel tape recorder so that I would catch the show anyway.

Kaj Kindvall was hardly a John Peel-type DJ, where the point was to be a kind of curator - "I like this, therefore I'm going to play it" - but seems to have viewed his job as serving up a little bit of this and a little bit of that, introducing the tracks in a dispassionate, factual manner. Discorama was basically a news show, playing single sides and tracks from new albums by established as well as up-and-coming acts, and it also highlighted current hits on the UK and US charts, whatever their genre. Therefore, while you would get to hear songs from British new wave and synth pop acts, the next track might very well be a slice of American yacht rock, followed by UK chart hits such as 'Clog Dance' by Violinski, 'Luton Airport' by Cats UK or 'Day Trip To Bangor' by Fiddler's Dram (however, I can't recall that they played 'There's No One Quite Like Grandma'; even Discorama had its limits).

I really liked this non-judgmental approach, and I credit Kaj Kindvall and Discorama with a large part of whatever knowledge of popular music history I possess today. If a certain current hit single was a cover version, they would often play a bit of the original recording as well: for instance, the playing of Don McClean's 'Crying' - a UK hit in 1980 - was a preceded by a few bars from Roy Orbison's original. So you learned a little about older music as well.

After Discorama was cancelled in 1984, Kaj Kindvall started a chart show called Tracks, which he hosted until just a few years ago. While I never warmed to this show, the longevity and immense popularity of it means that to most people he is Mr Tracks. For me, though, he will always be Mr Discorama.

So thanks then, Kaj, and enjoy your retirement.