Archive: Radio 2

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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?

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?

My dad is often to be found listening to Sounds of the 60s. As far as I can tell, the programme is often filled with complete drivel.

But I can easily see the appeal. Even the biggest pile of crap can take on greater significance when viewed through those special rose-tinted nostalgia-spectacles. Anything that reminds us of our youth is a good thing.

But the strangest things can attach themselves to these youthful nostalgic feelings. Recently I was listening to the radio when ‘If it Makes You Happy’ by Sheryl Crow came on.

(Unfortunately, the video is still pretty bad — I guess her image hadn’t settled down yet — so I have removed the video bit from the YouTube embed code.)

It’s not a song I ever particularly enjoyed before. But for some reason, it brought me warm memories of the mid-1990s. All of a sudden I liked the vibe of the song — rather carefree-sounding. Somehow I visualised talking a car journey late on a sunny summer’s evening.

How can a song I never liked before suddenly create strong feelings? I guess this is the first hint of what is to come. As I become older, everything from my youth will start to seem better.

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.)

The top story on the BBC News website is currently this on the furore surrounding Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross as Gordon Brown wades his sorry way in. I am sorry, but I really do struggle to believe that this is the most important story around at the moment.

In fact, once you put the pieces together, the whole thing looks as though the BBC has been completely stitched up. The phone calls may have been ill-advised, all the more so due to the fact that it was pre-recorded and yet was still broadcast.

But there are too many things about this that just don’t add up for me. I haven’t heard the clip, but having read the transcript it seems very much as though Jonathan Ross was easily the more offensive of the pair. So why is most of the criticism going the way of Russell Brand?

Then there is the time line of events. The story only entered the news agenda a full week and a half after the phone calls were made, and one whole week after they were broadcast. For something supposedly so shocking, people sure took a long time to realise it.

Alarm bells should automatically be ringing when you see that the paper that has stoked up this little fire is the contemptible Mail on Sunday. This has all the hallmarks of a despicable tabloid rag using any excuse to lay into the BBC.

Last Wednesday the Mail on Sunday phoned up Andrew Sachs’s agent, Meg Pool, for a comment. That was the first she — and, incidentally, Andrew Sachs himself — had ever heard of the phone calls. But, probably sniffing the opportunity to get lots of publicity, she began to kick up a fuss.

All the while, the amount of complaints the BBC had received by this time was a grand total of… two. And they were about Jonathan Ross’s swearing, not the nature of the phone calls. Post-Mail on Sunday foot-stomping, the figure stands at 10,000 and rising. It looks to me as though this story is all about the public’s love of a good old bandwagon.

And what does Andrew Sachs say? “[T]he producer called me on my mobile to ask whether they could play the recording in question out.” So the BBC sought permission before broadcasting it. And: “I think Jonathan [Ross] is in enough trouble as it is. I don’t want to add to that.”

That is how it should be. Of course Andrew Sachs should get an apology from both Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. It looks like he has got it (or in the case of Brand, will get it). Beyond that, the rest of this story stinks of a tabloid rag spying the opportunity to criticise the BBC for the most tenuous reason.

Update: I see that Will Patterson agrees with me.

Tomorrow is a sad day for fans of experimental music, and it is a particularly poor one for the reputation of the BBC in certain circles. Probably the best music programme on radio, Mixing It, has been axed. The final programme will be tomorrow at 2215 on Radio 3.

Mixing It was probably the only radio programme I would go out of my way to listen to. Ever since I was introduced to it six years ago by a good person on a messageboard about Feeder (of all bands), the programme has been the main source through which I discovered new bands. It’s been doing the same thing for many others since 1990. But that will all end tomorrow.

Over the past six years, nothing has influenced my music buying habits more than Mixing It. There literally is nothing else like it on the radio. It wasn’t called Mixing It for nothing. You genuinely wouldn’t know what was around the corner. It took Blectum From Blechdom as seriously as the rest of Radio 3 took Bach and Beethoven.

This love of modern experimental music earned it a certain reputation from some particular snooty-nosed Radio 3 listeners who would rather the station was filled with classical music and nothing else. People such as Friends of Radio 3 (some “friends”, huh?) say that Mixing It would fit better on Radio 1 or 6Music.

I can only assume that they have never listened to Radio 1. A perousal of Radio 1’s “Experimental” [sic] page would downright offend any self-respecting fan of experimentation. Right now it features The Klaxons and CSS. It is hardly boundary smashing stuff.

As for the programmes on Radio 1, even in the past five years the change has been drastic. Back then there was The Blue Room, an ambient / acoustic music show which, while tucked away in the schedules at 5am, at least suited its slot. In the past year, it has been axed. Other experimental shows by Mary Anne Hobbs and Gilles Peterson have scandalously been moved to graveyard slots like 2am to make way for Colin Murray.

Meanwhile, 6Music (with a couple of notable exceptions) is really just Radio 2 for people in denial. For all of its good aspects, 6Music probably does not have the ability to accomodate a programme with such varied and eclectic playlists. I certainly could not imagine Radio 1 or 6Music broadcasting concerts by artists like The Matthew Herbert Big Band.

And this is not to mention the approach taken by Mixing It, which really took an interest in the way the music was made. It was chin-strokey but not po-faced, an approach shaped by the brilliant banter between Mark Russell and Robert Sandall. The programme didn’t take itself too seriously, but it had quite an analytical bent that really only suits Radio 3, certainly more than it would suit Radio 1 or 6Music.

Take, for instance, last week’s special programme on the Berlin music scene. Radio 1 might do a documentary on Berlin, but it would probably only focus on a genre at a time and it certainly wouldn’t last ninety minutes. Mixing It‘s programme explored many aspects of the Berlin community and took a genuine interest in the way the music was made. It didn’t try to relate everything to some kind of superficial, non-existent scene.

Mixing It was a unique in that it didn’t see a boundary between pop and classical music as somebody like Friends of Radio 3 or even your average Radio 1 listener would see. The approach of Mixing It has possibly fostered a new culture linking pop and classical music. I recently wrote about how brilliant Jonny Greenwood is. Writing on the Media Guardian website, Ed Baxter of Resonance FM said:

Witness the BBC Concert Orchestra’s coy description of its current Composer in Residence, Johnny Greenwood, as “probably better known as the guitarist in the hugely successful band Radiohead”. Probably. And probably too such a collaboration would have been inconceivable without Mixing It connecting savvy classical players and serious young pop stars.

It is very sad that Radio 3 should be turning its back on something so wonderful, in a year when Jonny Greenwood won the Radio 3 listeners’ award in the British Composer Awards.

Because not only has Mixing It been axed, but its only close relative — Late Junction — has been cut from four shows per week to three as well. Radio 3 appears to be closing the door to the sort of music that doesn’t get an outlet anywhere else (despite what Friends of Radio 3 might believe!). And to think that just a few years ago things were looking up, when Mixing It‘s slot was extended.

So what has Mixing It been replaced with? Something called Jazz Library, a new programme dedicated to playing old jazz records. Now I don’t have an aversion to jazz, but I find it difficult to believe that this new programme will make anything like the same impact as Mixing It did.

Is there really not enough space for Mixing It to remain on Radio 3’s schedules. It is not as if 75 minutes tucked away on a Friday night (or even its old slot of 60 minutes on a Sunday night!) is really getting in anybody’s way.

What can fans of experimental music listen to now? Do we really have to make do Mary Anne Hobbs’ yelping (at 4am) and whatever podcasts we can rustle up from the internet? What will influence my music purchases from now on? From Saturday onwards, I will be a little bit more lost than I was before.

Did you see that programme about the Eurovision Song Contest last night? Quite funny I thought.

It’s interesting to see how the competition has evolved. In the 1950s it was more like an experiment than anything else. “Look at us, we can broadcast all round Europe!” Back then the acts mostly seemed to be singers sitting on a stool in a tuxedo. Terry Wogan didn’t start taking the piss until the 70s or 80s.

And here we sit today in 2006, not exactly sure what the Eurovision Song Contest is for any more, apart from a massive irony-diarrhoea-fest and Terry Wogan’s snide remarks. Although there is a lingering suspicion that some nations, particularly in the East, still take the ESC quite seriously (although we shouldn’t blame them given the huge publicity opportunity their country gets as a result), it is clear that British people at least don’t take it seriously.

You only need to look at the song that the British public chose as our entry to see that, yes indeed, we are thoroughly taking the piss (are we a nation of paedophiles or what?). I think you can lay this at the door of Terry Wogan. It is sad, but when Terry Wogan retires we will find out that he is the only true reason for the ESC in the 21st century, and nobody will watch it at all.

Still, I know I’m going to be watching it this year, and I’ll probably watch the semi-final on BBC Three with Paddy O’Connell as well, if I can remember to catch it.

I am shocked to discover, though, that this year the scoring procedure has been completely ruined. Firstly, Britain’s Ambassador to Eurovision is somebody who surely doesn’t deserve any more television exposure, Fearne Cotton. Secondly, the announcers will only announce their country’s top three songs, and 4th–10th will just appear on the screen! Ridiculous!

No doubt this is supposed to be about shortening the scoring procedure, but don’t they realise that the immense length of the scoring procedure is one of the ESC’s plus-points? I don’t know how the viewers are supposed to digest the seven other scores in that short space of time. Pah.

This guy who worked at the BBC decided to experiment with and created an account for 6Music (via So we have a true picture of what 6Music sounds like: 6Music’s favourite artists, favourite tracks and so on, broken down by week as well!

The account kind of sums up why I don’t listen to 6Music. As one shoutboxer, lambieisgod, says, “excellent hack! shame about the u2 :(“. But there you go.

There now appear to be accounts for both Radio 1 and Radio 2 as well. Sigur Rós are the 11th most-played band on Radio 1, and the 16th most-played on Radio 2. This makes both Radio 1 and Radio 2 cooler than the supposedly cooler-than-too-cool-for-school 6Music…

Yesterday I wrote a post about how I don’t know what radio to listen to any more.

My experiments tuning into other radio stations have been pretty hit-and-miss. In the comments Simstim suggested Radio 4. Once you’ve taken Five Live out of the equation, Radio 4 is one of the most likely options for me to take. The Today programme is okay, but as soon as it’s finished I’ve got to turn to another channel. For a start, I don’t even understand what programmes like Midweek are supposed to even be about?

And some of Radio 4’s comedy programmes are okay, but others are insufferably smug. They are like some evil combination of QI and Have I Got News For You. Smug, smug, smug. Egotistical contestants with smartarse answers. Of the panel quizzes, Just A Minute is the one I can handle — but only just.

The thing about Radio 4, though, is that it isn’t the sort of thing you can just turn on and be 50% sure you’ll hear something good. There are some interesting documentaries in the evening, but also lots of boring programmes, Melanie Phillips and goodness knows what else lurking under there. To sum up, Radio 4 is good, but only if you already know what programme you’ll hear when you switch it on. The same applies to Radio Scotland. The newsy programmes are pretty good, but apart from that there’s not much reason to tune in.

None of the music stations meet with my approval. Virgin Radio is the worst of the bunch. It’s a nightmarish mixture of Jeremy Clarkson, Dave Nicey and general dad rock fustiness. You will never hear the sound a letter T makes because they’re all replaced by Ds. 6Music is similar but young folk haven’t wised up to its crapness yet. It’s a bit quieter but it’s more smug. Anything involving Steve Lamacq must be avoided at all costs. Meanwhile Radio 2 is responsible for every boring MOR pop star in the country.

Radio 1 isn’t too bad, but if you’re averse to shouting you might have to avoid it. Zane Lowe is terrible. He yelps all over the music. He’s all excited, even though the song he’s just played sounded exactly the same as the one before, and that sounded the same as the one before as well. The Breezeblock is pretty good, but Mary Anne Hobbs really gets on my tits. The Blue Room was good — whenever I could be bothered to get / stay up at 5am to listen to it.

Now I’ll only tune in to specific music programmes, and I can’t be bothered with tuning in at the right time. I’m the sort of person who’s got to listen to the radio while doing something else, or at least when I’m lying in bed (which is probably not a healthy thing to do in the middle of the day). The only decent music programmes are on at funny times so I never end up listening to them, and if I do it’s using the BBC’s listen again service.

Podcasting may save me. I think I’m finally getting into podcasting. I hope the BBC extend their podcast trial soon. The BBC podcasts I listen to at the moment are The Chequered Flag (F1 geekery) and Broadcasting House (because it’s quite a good programme, but broadcast at 9am on a Sunday which as far as I’m concerned doesn’t even exist).

I would love for there to be a Mixing It podcast. I’ve not properly listened to Mixing It since Christmas because I simply can’t be bothered listening to it. But if I could download it and listen to it, say, on my way to university, I would never miss it.

While we’re at it, does anybody know of any good podcasts? Something I’d be interested in?

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