Archive: 6 Music

When this blog returned last month, a reader asked me if the impending return of Adam and Joe to our radio sets was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Well, it’s not quite the best news I have ever heard. But nevertheless, tomorrow is exciting.

Adam and Joe return tomorrow morning at 10am on BBC 6 Music!

To celebrate, here is a clip of one of the funniest moments of the programme — when Adam and Joe dangerously ate a chill cake that was sent in by a listener.

BBC Asian Network logo

The news that the BBC is considering reversing its decision to close down the Asian Network marks the corporation’s second major U-turn on a digital radio service closure. The first was the more high-profile threat to close 6 Music.

The dithering indecisiveness is enough. But what really annoys me about these decisions is the underlying reason behind them — ratings — and the story it tells.

Lacklustre awareness

Both 6 Music and the Asian Network had relatively poor ratings before the BBC announced that the services would close. In that sense, it was easy to see why the savings-seeking BBC was lining them up for the chop.

Then something funny happened. Ratings shot through the roof. After its closure was announced, the number of 6 Music listeners doubled from 600,000 a week to 1.2 million a week. It wasn’t just a flash in the pan either. Since 6 Music was saved from the axe, ratings have remained over the 1 million mark.

The problem is that beforehand, awareness of BBC 6 Music was extremely low. Only 20 per cent of UK adults had even heard of the station. No wonder ratings are so poor if four fifths of the potential audience doesn’t even know of its existence!

Similarly, ratings for the Asian Network have increased by a third since its closure was announced. The increase in ratings has been given as the reason for the BBC’s U-turn.

Publicity vacuum hurts BBC digital radio

The problem is that the closure threat was the most publicity 6 Music and the Asian Network had ever had. The BBC isn’t usually shy of promoting its own services, but it has completely failed to sell its digital radio stations to the public at large. In fact, it has completely failed to sell digital radio full stop.

Just look at the digital radio listenership figures — figure 3.34 in this Ofcom report (PDF) (via James Cridland).

Bar chart of digital radio listening figures

A measley 18 per cent of Radio 1 listeners listen over a digital format. The highest figure among BBC radio stations (excluding those available on digital platforms only) is 5 Live — 36 per cent. These listeners have a significant incentive to move to digital though, as otherwise 5 Live is only available on poor quality medium wave frequencies.

Meanwhile, over half of listeners to Absolute Radio listen over a digital platform. Absolute’s success in pursuing digital platforms is well-documented.

Skewed priorities

Considering that the BBC is supposed to be investing in digital radio, it is not doing a very good job of promoting it. Despite having great content on its digital services, the BBC is shy of actually promoting them.

In this department, it is being considerably outperformed by Absolute Radio, a commercial outlet that doesn’t have a chunk of license fee money set aside for pushing digital. The BBC seems to have lost all of its enthusiasim for digital, even when it is producing excellent digital services.

As James Cridland pointed out, fans following the Ashes earlier this year will not have missed a ball were they listening on 5 Live Sports Extra, as I did. Yet all over the news the following day was the fact that BBC radio listeners were deprived of the victorious moment because the shipping forecast was being broadcast on Radio 4 longwave at the time.

This provided plenty of good coverage in the shape of, “ha, that crazy old shipping forecast, eh?!” All very good. But why wasn’t the point driven home that an excellent digital service was broadcasting the cricket completely uninterrupted?

I am sure there are lots of avid cricket fans out there that rely on their longwave signal. But I have checked, and I don’t even own any equipment that can pick up longwave. I suspect if I were to go to the shops to buy a radio, I would have to make a special effort to find one that could receive longwave. Meanwhile, I could pick up a DAB radio for about £30 with no trouble whatsoever.

Where are the promos?

Why did the Radio 2 breakfast slot get a big push when Chris Evans started presenting it? The Radio 2 breakfast show is the most popular radio programme in the country, with around 10 million listeners. If there is one radio show that does not need promoting, it is this — whether it has a new presenter or not.

With radio, the BBC seems to have got its marketing priorities all wrong. Where are the big promos for stations like 6 Music, Radio 7 or the Asian Network? Why isn’t it pushing 5 Live Sports Extra harder at avid sports fans?

With radio, the BBC seems to have got its marketing priorities all wrong. Where are the big promos for stations like 6 Music, Radio 7 or the Asian Network?

There was some alarming news for F1 fans yesterday. According to The Guardian, the BBC is considering ditching F1 coverage as a result of budget cuts.

Easy target

I used to think the chances of the BBC dropping its F1 coverage at the end of the current contract were fairly high. For critics of the BBC, F1 is an easy target.

For one thing, the image of F1 as a glamorous, expensive sport for rich men doesn’t help. Nor, indeed, does the perception that it is environmentally unfriendly.

There is also a myth that Formula 1 can be adequately covered by commercial broadcasters. Anyone who actually tried to sit down and watch a race on ITV will know that this is simply not true. But the fact that it has only been back on the BBC for two years so far means that it is not seen as a BBC jewel.

Hugely popular

But since it regained the rights in 2009, the BBC have done such an exemplary job of covering the sport that it has become a matter of even greater importance to many F1 fans. It’s not just about the lack of advert interruptions, which was a huge barrier to ITV gaining acceptance from fans. It is the sheer breadth and depth of the BBC’s coverage.

The quality of the programme itself is top-notch, despite apparently having a much lower budget than ITV. All practice sessions are broadcast on the red button or online. And post-race analysis often goes on for as long as the race itself. There is plenty of archive footage on offer too.

As a result, ratings for Formula 1 are generally much higher than they were by the time ITV was finished with it. A recent BBC Trust report revaled that Formula 1 coverage was exceeding all of its targets and enabled it to reach a young male audience that the BBC otherwise finds difficult to reach.

The other sporting event that was regarded as a ‘hit’ by all measures was Wimbledon. This is the other sport apparently being considered for the chop.

So are the BBC planning to do a 6 Music, and demonstrate that BBC coverage of these events needs to be saved as a result of strong viewer opinion? Or is F1 genuinely being lined up for the axe?

Budget cuts

It’s pretty clear that the BBC’s F1 coverage has faced a budget cut for the year. The BBC took the odd decision of removing the well-respected commentator Jonathan Legard, and failing to properly replace him. Instead, the rest of the existing team has been reshuffled and each member of the on-screen team will be spread more thinly.

David Coulthard and Martin Brundle

For instance, it is expected that Martin Brundle will continue to do his pre-race gridwalk, do a full race commentary, and participate in the post-race analysis. David Coulthard will continue in his punditry role both before and after the race, in addition to being the co-commentator during the race. This would normally amount to four or more hours of continuous live broadcasting (more if the race is delayed for some reason), without much in the way of a break.

As former grand prix drivers, there is no doubt that Martin Brundle and David Coulthard have stamina. But I think even the most seasoned broadcasting pros would find this sort of workload to be a tough act.

So why not bring someone new on board? Is it just a case of a salami slice budget cut, or is the BBC preparing to wind down its coverage of F1 altogether?

I am quite a fan of DAB radio. It allows me to listen to two of my favourite stations, Radio 5 Live and Absolute Radio, in crystal-clear quality as opposed to the duff medium wave frequencies they have historically used. Two of my other favourite stations, 6 Music and the World Service, are not available on analogue radio. So DAB wins for me on two key counts — sound quality and choice.

But there is no doubt that DAB is troubled. Its future is constantly being questioned. There are grumbles about poor sound quality and reception issues. The fact that car and handheld DAB radios are still thin on the ground is no help either. Take-up has been slower than anticipated.

Moreover, technology is beginning to overtake DAB. Having been developed during the 1980s and early 1990s, DAB uses old-fashioned and inefficient compression techniques.

I am considering buying a second digital radio for when I move. But given the continued niggles surrounding DAB and the uncertainty regarding digital switchover for radio, I am beginning to wonder if buying a second DAB set would be a sensible move.

Is the future of digital radio on the internet?

I was therefore interested to read about the BBC’s new high-quality system, which they are calling HD Sound (not to be confused with HD Radio!).

At first it will be offered for Radio 3, then Radio 2. But given that feedback of the trial as so far been extremely positive — even among the demanding Radio 3 audience — this is beginning to look like a promising system.

Only one thing. It will be available on the internet only. So should my new radio set be an internet radio?

I hadn’t seriously considered buying an internet radio up until now. But it has a massive wealth of choice. There is huge flexibility. It is more future-proof. This platform has widespread adoption (you don’t see the internet disappearing any time soon — although somehow the future of DAB always seems relatively uncertain). And now it seemingly the internet has the potential to have the upper hand in terms of audio quality.

Do any readers have any experience with internet radios? Are they worth a purchase?

About ten years ago I shunned music radio. It no longer reflected my musical tastes, so I turned to speech radio stations instead — all on the BBC.

After a while, I began to get into BBC 6 Music. I was still interested in the speech elements of the station more than the music. Adam and Joe became a regular listen, but I also began to appreciate the music output more. Programmes like the Freak Zone and Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service simply would not exist on another station — which is why there was so much outrage when it was suggested that the station would be closed down.

But when considering alternative options in the event that 6 Music closed, I realised that the outlook was perhaps not as bad is it might seem. As a commercial alternative, Absolute Radio wouldn’t be a bad option.

Shedding Virgin Radio’s dad rock image

In the space of just two years, the new owners of what used to be Virgin Radio have given the station a completely new lease of life.

I would never have considered listening to Virgin Radio. Its playlist was limited, repetitive and fusty. It was wall-to-wall dad rock.

Looking back, the transition to the new-style Absolute was quite steady. But the day it ditched the Virgin brand was the day it could move on from that albatross and the Smashie and Nicey image. Today, I think it is easily the most interesting commercial radio station around.

More than music

The key selling point of Absolute Radio, as opposed to Virgin, is that it is now not just about music. Now it’s an “entertainment” station. When you tune in, you are more likely to hear a comedian than a dusty old Status Quo song. Its current presenters include people like Dave Gorman, Iain Lee, Frank Skinner and Richard Herring — all much better known for being funny than being fanatical about what Virgin always called “real music”.

It’s a template that has been successful at BBC 6 Music ever since it started. Its original breakfast presenter was Phill Jupitus, while other high-profile presenters have included Russell Brand, Craig Charles, Jon Holmes and… Richard Herring. And it’s difficult to escape the feeling that Absolute’s weekend morning programming has been heavily influenced by the success of Adam and Joe on 6 Music.

The really impressive thing about how Absolute have gone about it is the fact that Dave Gorman appears to have more influence over the music that is played on his programme than Adam and Joe ever did. As a whole, Absolute is more accessible than 6 Music, but it is a station that is unafraid to step out of the mainstream on occasion.

Determined to try different things

But gradually, Absolute is becoming something more than a commercial 6 Music-lite. Its deal to broadcast English Premier League football matches is a bold move to for a music station to make, particularly since Radio 5 Live and TalkSport are so well established in this area. Apparently it is the first time a music station has broadcast top flight football since Capital Gold brought Jonathan Pearce to the world 20 years ago.

Absolute have launched some interesting spin-off stations as well. In addition to Absolute Classic Rock, there is Absolute 80s and Absolute Radio 90s (that is a way to make me feel old — my decade is now for proper nostalgia!). There is also Absolute Radio Extra. The best thing is that the latter three are all available on DAB.

There was also Dabbl, an experimental station where users chose the content. It has closed down now, but it is nonetheless a sign that Absolute is determined to experiment with radio.

Doing new things with radio

The people behind Absolute Radio have a great website, One Golden Square, which takes you behind the scenes of Absolute Radio. The openness of the website is wonderful. It is a great insight into what makes them tick, and it’s all very encouraging.

Absolute are always at the cutting-edge, thinking about the future of radio and different ways to listen to it. That is no wonder — the traditional 1215 medium wave frequency is very poor quality for a music station, so it helps them to investigate alternative ways of broadcasting.

One Golden Square Labs outlines some of the really interesting things they are up to. There is some nifty iPod Nano integration. They are also pushing ahead with HTML5 delivery.

Compare My Radio - comparison of Absolute and 6 Music

One Golden Square are also behind the wonderful Compare My Radio. This website is a heaven for radio and stats geeks — perfect for me.

It is a treasure trove of stats about radio output in the UK. You can see what tracks and artists are popular, search for artists to find out what stations play them, and even compare the output of two radio stations — with Venn diagrams and everything.

A lot of people turned to this website to learn about 6 Music. Many defended the station on the basis of statistics collected by Compare My Radio. You can see how 6 Music compares to Absolute Radio.

The website is a fascinating service that must take a bit of work to maintain. It’s great that a radio station can take a step back and fairly allow others to compare it with other radio stations.

All-in-all, you get the impression that the people behind Absolute Radio are seriously passionate about radio. As a bit of a radio fan myself, that is a big winner for me.

I have realised that I’m easily entertained. I have a pile of CDs that I bought back in October but still haven’t got round to listening to. There are a couple of DVDs that I bought before Christmas that I still haven’t watched. And I’m struggling to play all the games I’ve bought in the past few months too.

What am I doing that means I have so little spare time? I would say that it’s all because I currently spend so much time commuting to work (generally around three hours per day, or two if I’m lucky). But my chief means of entertainment while travelling, listening to podcasts, has also been causing me undue hassle due to the rising backlog sitting in my iPod waiting to be listened to.

I guess it’s lucky that one of the biggest problems in my life just now is the fact that I have too much interesting and fun stuff to listen to. But I have genuinely found it a tricky balance to get right, and am trying out creative ways to organise my spare time more efficiently as a matter of priority.

Having too many podcasts to listen to has been the case for as long as I can remember. It’s a bit like having an RSS reader, and before you know it, you have subscribed to so many RSS feeds that you never get them all read. This is okay as long as you don’t let anything get too out-of-date before you get round to it.

However, the mild annoyance of having a huge backlog of podcasts became a major problem recently when, almost without noticing, I ended up being four or five weeks behind on almost every podcast I listen to. This became a major problem with the current affairs podcasts I listen to, particularly just after the General Election had taken place. They had almost all been rendered completely out of date!

So since the election I have been on a drive to listen to more podcasts, weed out the ones I don’t really like, and prioritise the more newsworthy ones. Before, I had around 260 podcast episodes downloaded but not yet listened to. Having unsubscribed from and deleted a few podcasts, I have got that number down to 170, where it seems to have stabilised.

It took me about a month to do it, but I have managed to catch up with all of the podcasts that I deem to be “current affairs”, and have even sub-divided this into high-priority and low-priority sub-categories. Apart from F1 podcasts (which have always been consumed fairly quickly), these are now listened to first.

Of the podcasts that are less centred around the news, I have split these into a ‘B’ and ‘C’ list. Bs are podcasts that either I really enjoy or I think I should listen to. Cs are podcasts that I have assigned the lowest priority to. I am on the verge of unsubscribing from some of these.

I start listening to these podcasts if there are no current affairs ones waiting, with one C being placed after every two or three Bs. Just now, the oldest of these is from way back on 2 April — ten weeks ago. It is certainly interesting to see whether or not I really miss listening to these podcasts.

It certainly feels like I have become a lot more organised, even though there are almost 40 hours’ worth of podcasts waiting to be listened to. And that is just in this list alone.

I haven’t even mentioned the comedy podcasts, which I listen to as part of a different routine. I listen to one Adam and Joe podcast per week (on a Monday, to cheer myself up, geddit?). Then during whatever bits of time I have on Monday or Tuesday I listen to Iain Lee or Barry from Watford. This is a huge backlog of its own, but because the Iain Lee ones are generally around 10 or 15 minutes long, it’s easy to squeeze them in here and there.

There is so much cheap (in fact, free) entertainment that there is simply too much interesting stuff to get through it all. I recently calculated that the amount of podcasts I was downloading amounted to 1½ hours of listening every day. No wonder I was struggling.

It is worth being a bit more discerning with how I spend my spare time. But it is always difficult to make the decision to stop listening to a particular podcast. I have been listening to some of these for three years now. But a bit like a favourite shirt that’s worn out, I’m not sure I can actually bring myself to chuck it out.

Save BBC 6 Music

If the reports that the BBC will close down 6 Music are true, it is a great shame. Of course, this could be seen coming. The BBC has been utterly weak in almost every respect for the past few years, and it is difficult to escape the notion that it is too big, with too many outlets. Of course, when effectively forced to cut back, it will opt to close down the high quality products, rather than those that are merely popular.

6 Music is the only mainstream radio station where you can regularly hear genuinely experimental and alternative music on a regular basis. It is the only station that confounds expectations and delights in challenging the listener.

The Freak Zone is a jewel in 6 Music’s crown, dedicated to playing esoteric music from today and undiscovered gems from the past. For sure, it is a challenging listen at times — but that is the very point.

Similarly, Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service is truly unique. One of the most eclectic playlists I have ever heard is mixed with ponderings on, for instance, the sad beauty of abandoned Christmas trees.

I have effused before about Adam and Joe, which I think was genuinely the best programme on radio. These are just three of the must-listen radio programmes that 6 Music has brought us.

6 Music should have broadened its horizons

There is simply no commercial alternative. In short, it is precisely the sort of thing that the BBC should be doing.

In fact, I have in the past been critical of 6 Music for not being adventurous enough in the past. The BBC does, after all, already have three other major music radio stations, each of which is dedicated to playing different strands of mainstream music. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. But this should have provided 6 Music with the opportunity to explore the outer reaches of music more freely.

Instead, 6 Music has ended up being slightly unsure of its role. It has come to attain a dual identity. One is that of a genuinely exploratory musical agenda, for discerning listeners who are passionate about the music they already love, and are itching to discover new music.

The other is that of a mere weakened popular music station with a vague indie bent. This aspect made it like a transition station for listeners who have moved on from Radio 1 but can’t yet bring themselves to listen to Radio 2. Hence the travesty of George Lamb. There are plenty of commercial alternatives for these people to turn to. This is an audience that doesn’t need to be catered for by the BBC.

Instead of trying to gain listeners with gimmicky attempts to cater for the masses, 6 Music should have set its sights higher by increasing its quality. It could be transformed into a station that is genuinely dedicated to music that you won’t find on other radio stations.

And there is no need to stop at music. It could encompass culture as a whole. Why shouldn’t such a station also champion alternative comedy, experimental drama and the like? It could be like a well funded version of Resonance FM.

Instead, the BBC appears to have taken the coward’s option. Instead of setting its sights towards enhancing the station so that it becomes a great hub for alternative and experimental culture, it has weakly chosen to throw in the towel. Instead of realising the potential of 6 Music and promoting it properly, the BBC has left it in a corner to gather cobwebs and eventually die.

The BBC’s disregard for experimental culture

This would be palatable if it weren’t for the fact that experimental music has been increasingly marginalised on the BBC’s other radio stations over the past decade as well. As if the passing of John Peel wasn’t enough of a blow to adventurous music on the BBC, the corporation appears to be determined to dismantle every last piece of its experimental music programming.

A decade ago Radio 1′s evening schedule was brimming with experimental music. But the station’s few remaining programmes dedicated to experimental music have all been shunted to shorter, graveyard time slots. To take just one example, Rob da Bank’s programme is on at the truly insulting 5-7am on a Saturday. Meanwhile, Mary Anne Hobbs’s Breezeblock is on at 2-4am on Thursday morning.

New experimental music has all but disappeared from Radio 3 as well. Since Mixing It was removed from the schedules, all that has remained is Late Junction, which has itself been marginalised in recent years.

In short, the BBC is doing less of the sort of programming it should be making, and replacing it with the sort of thing that ought to be left to its commercial rivals.

Absolute to the rescue?

The Times suggested that Absolute Radio may be interested in buying 6 Music should the BBC decide to close it down. It seems to me as though Clive Dickens was merely making a point about the inefficient way the BBC has run 6 Music.

But the idea that Absolute might acquire 6 Music and keep it alive is an interesting prospect. I have find myself being increasingly impressed with Absolute. I am sure that it has taken inspiration from 6 Music as it tries to re-build itself without the Virgin brand behind it.

Like 6 Music, Absolute thinks of itself as a home for good music (although in practice it just trots out middle-of-the-road dad rock). It mixes this with the use of comedians like Dave Gorman, Frank Skinner and Iain Lee as presenters.

This is the exact model that 6 Music has used throughout its existence. The station was launched by Phill Jupitus, who presented the 6 Music breakfast show for several years. Since then, 6 Music has been home to several comedians.

I find it doubtful that a radio station like 6 Music would flourish as a commercial operation. But if anyone can pull it off, it is Absolute. It would be fabulous.

The BBC has failed to convincingly promote digital radio. The lack of publicity is the real reason why 6 Music has so few listeners. Fewer than 10% of Radio 1 listeners are listening on a digital platform. When 6 Music is only available on digital platforms, it is no wonder it appears to perform so poorly. Only one in five people in the UK have even heard of the station. Hence Adam Buxton’s joke that it is “the secret station”.

Yet, over 54% of Absolute Radio’s listeners (approximately 31 minutes in) outside of London now listen on digital. The BBC, with all its supposed marketing might, has failed to generate anything like this sort of result, despite having shedloads of cash dedicated to the exercise.

The BBC is now weak and ineffective. It has failed digital radio, and it is now failing to commit to the very adventurous programming it is supposed to be dedicated to.


The country lurches back into its usual routine this week. But with the new year comes changes, and a vital part of everyone’s daily life — the radio — will seem very different.

My parents are concerned about what will happen to Radio 2 after the departure of Terry Wogan from breakfast. They were not happy to hear that his replacement will be Chris Evans. My parents originally stopped listening to Radio 1 when Chris Evans took over the Radio 1 breakfast show. (Quite how they tolerated Steve Wright before this is beyond me though.)

I get the feeling that they will stick with Radio 2. Chris Evans is a very different broadcaster to what he was ten or fifteen years ago and has apparently pleased most people with his performances on Radio 2 so far.

While Terry Wogan’s last show was the one that caught all the headlines, the end of two other radio programmes will be far more disruptive to my routine. I was not a listener of Terry Wogan’s, though I don’t suppose I am really part of his target audience.

The end of Adam and Joe

Much bigger news in my world has been the end of Adam and Joe’s programme on BBC 6 Music. They are raising the drawbridge at the Big British Castle for an indefinite period while Joe Cornish focuses on his new career as a film director.

This programme has been a core part of my week for the past two years. It is also unusual because due to its Saturday morning time slot, it has been the only thing that has managed to get me to wake up at a decent hour on a Saturday.

Adam and Joe have an excellent knack of doing a type of humour which is silly but not stupid — a balance that very few manage to strike. This made it ideal listening for the start of the weekend. It was perhaps something to gently lift you out of a mild hangover. The accompanying podcast was also excellent for lifting spirits during your journey into work.

Their gentle humour was mixed with sharp observations on popular culture. Increasingly, towards the end of the programme’s run, listener contributions were a larger part of the programme. Combined with the programme’s elite listening force Black Squadron and the STEPHEN! phenomenon, there was quite a tight-knit community feel to the show.

This was no doubt helped by the fact that it was on BBC 6 Music, jokingly referred to by Adam Buxton as “the secret station”. Even though it was the most popular programme on the station by quite a long way, due to its location in the outer reaches of select DAB sets, Adam and Joe’s was a cosy and understated programme. It is difficult to imagine Adam and Joe’s programme working so well on another, larger radio station.

Adam and Joe’s replacement will be Danny Wallace, who is not quite in the same league. It will leave a huge gap in my Saturday mornings. What else can I listen to? Saturday Live on Radio 4? Sorry, not for me. Jonathan Ross on Radio 2? Possibly. Or will I return to my old ‘default’ radio station, Radio 5 Live, for Danny Baker and Fighting Talk?

Changes at Radio 5 Live

Speaking of Radio 5 Live, that is the source of the other big change to my radio routine. Richard Bacon has vacated the late-night slot to take over from Simon Mayo, who is moving to replace Chris Evans on Drivetime at Radio 2.

I was a fan of Richard Bacon during his first stint on 5 Live in the weekend late-night slot, and he continued to delight when he returned to the station to do weeknights. Given his background, he is surprisingly good at dealing with big issues as well as light-hearted stuff.

He is also unafraid to use humour. It could be so embarrassing (and some would probably say it is), but I think it works well. The interesting bit after 12:30am was entertaining and brave. I can’t think of many other presenters who would get away with completely doing away with news for half an hour every day on Radio 5 Live.

I am greatly regretful that I never managed to get my hands on one of those badges. It was nevertheless an honour and a privilege to listen.

Richard Bacon’s irreverence is what makes him good as a broadcaster, but it’s difficult to see how he can leverage this in his new mid-afternoon slot, one of the most important in 5 Live’s schedule. Most disappointingly, it will be on during the daytime, meaning that I won’t be able to listen to it.

The replacement in the late night slot will be former Daily Sport editor Tony Livesey. I will reserve judgement until I hear the programme. I gather he is actually quite good. But if I don’t take to it, I might take the unusual step of switching to a commercial radio station during weeknights to listen to Iain Lee on Absolute Radio.

Richard Bacon’s move is part of a wider shake-up at Radio 5 Live, which also sees Gabby Logan getting a daily slot. With the day going from the Nicky Campbell Speak You’re Branes hour to Victoria Derbyshire to Gabby Logan, it’s not difficult to see why some people have started to nickname the station Radio 5 Lite.

It’s not quite the quality station I loved just a few years ago. Just now Radio 5 Live seems utterly bereft of ideas, aside from attempting to stealthily change it into a 24/7 Mark Kermode station. At least Up All Night is still good.

If I was being uncharitable, I might suggest that the presenters that remain at the station are the ones who are prepared to make the move to Salford when the station relocates there next year. The logic behind moving a radio station that covers news (most of which happens in London) to Manchester is still beyond me, I have to admit.

On the bright side…

It’s not all bad news on the radio front. In addition to his new daytime Radio 5 Live slot, Richard Bacon has a Saturday afternoon programme on 6 Music. He promises to take some of the jollity of his late night 5 Live show to 6 Music. But who listens to radio at that time? Not me.

I might make space in my Sunday afternoons for 6 Music though. Jarvis Cocker will have a new programme alongside the already-excellent Freak Zone.

But weekend mornings will still be a problem. And I’ll need a new comedy podcast to replace Adam and Joe. Does anyone have any suggestions? (Not Collings and Herrin — I tried it, and it was crap.)

I’ve had a busy week. I’ve not blogged here for a week so I’ll ease into this. No heavy politics stuff. Here goes. Do you listen to the Adam and Joe radio show on BBC 6 Music? If not, you should.

Why? Well, this programme has single-handedly made me do two things I would probably never otherwise do. For one, it has got me listening to 6 Music. But perhaps more significantly, it has made me wake up early on Saturdays. And Saturday morning radio is normally a complete entertainment void and intellectual desert, so it was such a relief to discover that Adam and Joe had got a radio gig at that time around a year ago.

It has always confused me why this pair of funny chaps aren’t just all over the place. About a decade ago they had a late night Channel 4 programme with all kinds of japes and tomfoolery like Quizzlestick and miscellaneous spoofs involving Star Wars figurines.

After that, not much of note happened on the Adam and Joe front for ages. But last year they broke into the Big British Castle and managed to get a radio show. And it’s hilarious! Here’s a clip from the radio show introducing the world to juvenilia superhero ‘STEPHEN!’

The programme is perfect for the Saturday morning vibe. It is a pleasing mix of easy chit-chat, silly voices, amusing observations on pop culture and juvenile toilet humour (all plus points for me). And because the pair have known each other since school, the chemistry is awesome.

If you’re not awake on time on Saturday morning (and I am usually not), the podcast is a great way to catch all the laughs. Over the past year, it has become my favourite podcast. Only yesterday I was on the train laughing like a drain, only to discover when I recovered that the ticket inspector was waiting for me.

The highlight of the show is Song Wars, where Adam and Joe both enter songs on a particular topic for the listeners to vote on. It’s quite incredible, because normally the comedy song genre has a bad whiff around it and is to be avoided. But Adam and Joe avoid all the pitfalls to regularly produce amusing songs that are often silly* and witty in equal measure. Read below the fold so that I can pester you to listen to some of them.

Click for more »

Well after the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was deemed to be impressive (apparently), it was hard to escape the self-pitying among Brits. “You just know ours will be rubbish compared to this.”

Well it transpires that London 2012 will be okay after all. Just a day after it emerged that fireworks were faked for the television audience, it has been revealed that a pretty singer was actually miming. Apparently the girl who actually did sing munted a bit was not as flawless.

This is great news for the Brits! Because if there is one thing our media excels at (except for ridiculous hyperbole and a breathtaking disregard for privacy) it is fakery. All we need to do now is put Ant and Dec in charge of the fireworks and Liz Kershaw in charge of the music. Shoehorn in a premium rate phone-in competition somewhere and it will be brilliant.