It’s Huw Stephens’ last weeknight Radio 1 show tonight – here’s why we’ll miss it

Evenings after work won't be the same without his dulcet Welsh tones...

Tonight marks the end of an era. Huw Stephens, everybody’s favourite loveable, music-mad Welshman, presents his last ever weeknight evening show on BBC Radio 1, and there’s plenty we’ll miss about his new music haven.

Huw first joined Radio 1 when he was just 17 – making him the youngest ever Radio 1 presenter – fresh from the world of hospital radio. After six years in regional radio, he got his first national show in 2005, drafted in to continue the spirit of new music discovery championed by the late John Peel. It’s a high pressure gig, but over a decade later Huw’s right at the forefront, playing new bands on the radio well before anybody else.

Luckily he isn’t disappearing from the airwaves; instead, he’s moving slots to a new BBC Introducing show at 11pm every Sunday night. Still, there’s no denying that making some after-work spag bol will feel different without our Huw’s soothing tones, Maida Vale sessions, and all round impeccable taste to rely on for moral support. Here are the biggest things we’ll miss about Huw’s show…

Endless affability

With Huw’s show, there’s zero in the way of name-dropping or over-the-top bombast, just tonnes of new music of the highest level. His enthusiasm for unsigned artists and independent bands across every genre is unparalleled, and it’s apparent that his immense talent for radio comes from a massive love of the format growing up and tuning in. Listening to Huw’s show feels somehow personal, a little like there’s a kindly Welshman sat in the corner by the stereo, putting on banger after brand new undiscovered banger, and talking you through every single one in kindly Cardiff tones. If you want a measure of exactly how nice Huw is, Naomi Campbell practically held the man hostage at the NME awards so that she could get a selfie with him.

Not to mention that he’s got excellent music taste…

Over the years, Huw Stephens has given some of the first ever radio plays to… oh, just a few teeny bands you might know. Lorde, Haim, The 1975, Disclosure, Slaves, and Bastille all got their first spins courtesy of the DJ, and look at them now! Gigantic! Huw’s coveted Maida Vale live sessions, meanwhile, have become a rite of passage for artists starting out.

He’s widely trusted for his impeccable ears, and when he’s not cramming your nights full with all sorts of musical madness on the radio, you’ll find him running around backstage at festivals ranging from Latitude to the brand new SWN curating some first rate live line-ups. Without a doubt, he’s one of the most genuine and passionate people in radio right now. Here’s a trip down memory lane courtesy of Huw; a pre-debut single King Krule in session at Maida Vale.

He’s refreshingly anti-snob

There’s far too much elitist nonsense running riot in a lot of places. Not Huw’s show, though. The sort of music lover who holds pop giants Rihanna and in the same regard as new upstarts like Bodega or Sports Team, all that matters is one thing – does it do magical things to your ears? Nothing is off limits, and thankfully he doesn’t believe in the idea of anything being a guilty pleasure, either. ”I bought a Yacht Rock compilation recently, which is brilliant,” he said in an interview with Le Cool London. “It’s a genre! I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure – it’s just a pleasure.”  In case the term Yacht Rock leaves you a bit confused, it refers to smooth, soft rock; think Hall & Oates, 10cc, Toto, and Spandau Ballet. AKA. The stuff of legend.

And now we may never get to hear his old band played on air…

Before becoming one of our favourite radio DJs, Huw Stephens was also in a band called Pic Nic. They released an EP back in 1997, on the now defunct Welsh experimental label R-Bennig. In imaginative fashion, the young band’s record came packaged up with an actual plastic knife and fork, exactly the sort of sheer genius you’d expect. “We played two roadshows for BBC Radio Cymru, released a green seven-inch single, got slagged off by Mark E Smith of The Fall in Melody Maker, and then split up. They were very happy days,” Huw summarised in an interview on CPS Homes. Perhaps its best he doesn’t play them on the new show after all…

Huw’s new BBC Introducing show – from 11pm every Sunday – starts in September.

And hey, no Huw, but why not check out NME Radio?