Following a link at Dummies 4 Destruction, I found myself at a Grauniad article entitled Commercial radio needs to fix its own problems, not moan about Radio 1.
Now, I’m fully aware that I have a long and vocal history of berating the BBC. And I have been known to say, on occasion, that commercial radio sucketh mightily. And furthermore, I may have mentioned from time to time that I listen to Radio 1 rather more than I listen to commercial radio.
Oh, and I’ve been less than subtle about my dislike of the Guardian mindset.
So there are a lot of my biases coming together in one little article.
My issues with the article are legion:
- Yes, Radio 1 has a much more open style. But it only has this because it forcibly takes money from television viewers, and thusly doesn’t have to worry about ever funding itself. It isn’t forced by common sense to have a small number of news rooms broadcasting to a larger number of radio stations. It doesn’t have to break for commercial breaks.
- Yes, it would seem that commercial radio is far too structured, but it has to be that way to maintain advertising income. And it has to maintain advertising income to pay big salaries. And it has to pay big salaries because the BBC, on its own initiative and with our money, pays way over the odds for big names. The BBC has to take at least some of the blame for commercial radio being so rigid.
- Says the article: Moyles doesn’t sound like any other show available, while commercial radio imposes countless restrictions in how their presenters sound and behave – that may be so, but Moyles didn’t come from the BBC. He came up through commercial radio, and then the BBC threw shitloads of (our) money at him to bring him to them. He’s only there because the BBC have more money than the commercial sector.
- And now, the thing that really pissed me off: Newsbeat is a pitch-perfect service for a younger audience – broad in scope, light in detail and never patronising. Newsbeat is never patronising? My arse. It couldn’t be any more dumbed down if it was hit with a dumbing stick. And even when I was a yoof I thought as much – my radio at uni was tuned to proper news stations because I couldn’t bear the patented Newsbeat and America is the big country on the far side of the big wet big over there style. Now I’m no longer a yoof, I find myself changing over to Radio 4 for news – yes, it’s the same lefty slant, but it’s using grown-up words and doesn’t assume that the audience needs the concept of a ‘Prime Minister’ explained to them…
Oops. It would appear that I got a little bit worked up over that… Who’d have thunk it?
Anyway, I’m cutting down on my Radio 1 listenership; I find myself flicking through stations much more these days. Moyles is getting more annoying, and the idiot Radio 1 schedulers have turned Annie Mac into a less annoying Edith Bowman, instead of a proper DJ. So there isn’t the same draw anymore…
I agree with most of what you’re saying – and particularly about bloody Newsbeat, which is horrific. Might as well call it “News for Spanners” and be done with it.
However, with regard to commercial radio vs. BBC (point 2) – if there were a commercial station that did things differently to all the others, had a decent national *and* local news (including local travel) without being brain-dead and banal, then I’d probably listen to it instead of R1.
Just because most stations fit the mould, that doesn’t mean that *all* of them have to. And if someone did a different format, I suspect a lot of listeners would go to it, thus promoting that new format via listenership figures.
As an idea (and going back to the days of Laser 558) you could have a 5- or 10-second blipvert at the end of every other track, rather than a splodge every ten/fifteen minutes. “Those tracks were sponsored by [department store]” – high repetition, and thus high brand-name retention in the audience, but without being fucking annoying four or five times an hour.
Having presenters with a personality – regardless of whether everyone actually *likes* that personality, so long as most do – also helps. Commercial Radio presenters at the moment feel like an identikit “built from modules” thing, and that’s Not Good. In R1’s example, I suspect Moyles is an utter c**t, but at least he’s got personality. Chris Evans, ditto.
At the end of the day, yes, put on a presenter with personality and you’ll lose some listeners who can’t abide them, but you’ll gain far more listeners who agree, and/or who just listen in order to be offended. (Daily Mail readers, f’rinstance)
Oh sod it, this is going to get copied as a follow-up post for D4D. Read more there.
Ditto on Newsbeat. I can-not- stand it. It’s the prime example of the brand of journalism that treats one side of the political debate as “obviously correct” because they agree with it.
And then includes the stupidest/most extreme proponent of the opposing view ‘for balance’…