Radio limbo pt. 1

I’ve had a bit of an up and down relationship with the radio. I’m the sort of person who wants to be able to tune into a radio station and be able to listen to it whenever my whim takes me, at any time of the day. But whenever I think I’ve found what I’m looking for, it doesn’t take long for me to become disillusioned.

I officially gave up on music radio when Beat 106 went to shit about five years ago. I spent some time in radio limbo looking for the least worst radio programmes. Overnight was particularly bad. I remember even listening to Virgin Radio overnight at one point — a true low point.

But then I discovered Up All Night on Radio Five Live. Up All Night is the best radio programme in the world. There are a number of must-hear (if you can stay up late enough) regular slots on this programme including one about blogs and podcasts. I don’t know why the rest of Radio Five Live isn’t like that — probably because people who are awake during the day are stupid.

So I decided to stick with Radio Five Live all day round. It was okay at first, but the little chops and changes that have happened to the station over the past five years since I started listening to it have not always met with my approval. It began when Nicky Campbell was moved to the Breakfast programme. If you want to wake up pleasently, don’t listen to Five Live. It’s bad enough that Nicky Campbell is on the radio at all, never mind when you’re trying to eat your breakfast.

Then when Fi Glover left the mid-morning phone-in they chose Victoria Derbyshire to replace her. This was probably part of their attempt to shed the ‘Radio Bloke’ image, although she is quite a blokey woman so I don’t think they thought it through. Anyway, phone-ins are bad enough, but Victoria Derbyshire is just terrible. Sometimes she doesn’t even attempt to sound interested. She makes it obvious that she’s just going through the motions. Like a robot sometimes. Whenever Julian Worricker or Matthew Bannister sit in the programme improves enormously. When Derbyshire is at the helm, though, it becomes practically impossible to listen to.

So in general, I avoid Five Live in the mornings. But weekends are off the scale. I know Richard Bacon got a lot of criticism when he presented the weekend programme, but I’ve got a fair bit of respect for the guy and I thought he did a pretty good job on it. When Bacon left he was replaced by Stephen Nolan, who I simply cannot bear. All he does is shout all the time, and he is often quite rude to the callers. Every conversation, no matter how trivial, is turned into an all-out war due to his style. It’s awful.

The Saturday morning programme on Five Live (currently presented by Eamonn Holmes) is very boring unless you are very interested in “quirky” “sport” “stories” along the lines of some old bore who cycled backwards across Europe whilst juggling eggs. Can’t stand it.

Brian Hayes on Friday nights used to send me to sleep (possibly a good idea at that time of night anyway), but I became used to his programme. Now I have read on Iain Dale’s blog that Hayes is being replaced by Stephen Nolan because of some pissy regional quota.

A huge amount of Five Live’s schedule is a complete no-go area for me now. So what can I tune into now? That’s another post for another time. Ha!


  1. The World Service? I hardly ever listen to R5L these days, except maybe for the Rugby, but I used to listen to loads of it during the mid-late 90s. Nicky Campbell was the last straw for me.

  2. Hmm yes, the World Service is a good idea. Difficult to receive during the day though as I don’t have a shortwave radio and using the television to listen to radio seems like such a waste of whatever energy is used to power the screen and the Freeview box.

    Still, I do listen to the World Service on Sunday nights when Up All Night is really bad (current affairs phone-in, you see, the type with all the loonies). I might go into this in my second post on the subject…

  3. There’s always Radio Four. Sure, there’s the Archers and the Afternoon Middle Class Play, but they do pretty good documentaries, the World at One and the World Tonight aren’t half bad current affairs programmes (they’re very different to the Today Programme, PM is somewhere in between), plus the best R4 comedy is up there with the best TV comedy in my view.

  4. Radio limbo pt. 2…

    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 t…

  5. […] As most people have, I’ve grown up with TV news as my main – almost sole – medium for getting information and knowledge. The internet’s usefulness in this regard is obviously very new, and radio news was never really my thing. However, this recent post from the Doctor got me thinking about whether radio news is becoming an overlooked, or at least undervalued, medium when you contrast it with what our cathode rays offer us. Then I remembered that I’ve been thinking along such lines for a while now. […]

  6. I used to listen to 5 live all the time – now virtually never. Try TalkSport – it’s everything 5 Live isnt – it has a great sense of humour, attitude, and the presenters are there on merit and they’re damn good – seasoned hacks and ex footballers who know their stuff and make it really entertaining.
    To me, this sums up R5: TalkSport broadcasts a heated debate / phone in with surely the country’s most knowledgeable football presenter Adrian Durham, super-articulate journo Gab Marcotti and legendary Spurs man Gary Stevens… and up against this on Radio five the man hosting the football phone in is… DJ Spoony… how lame is that?

  7. Same here, I seem to find myself agreeing with all you say about Five Live (nodding furiously at every sentence). The obnoxious Stephen Nolan caused me to complain to the BBC, when I normally just listen impassively. Brian Hayes is at least intelligent and thoughtful. Up All Night is probably the best -Rhodd Sharp’s balance between intelligent interviews and soothing sleepiness helps a lot. Why the BBC thought that the unbelievably stupid Dotun Adebayo was of similar calibre escapes me. This guy can hardly read a piece of paper without tripping over simple words. Awful awful diction to the point of unintelligible.
    Campbell in the mornings is unbearable -objectionable smugness beyond that of his Watchdog moments.
    Daytimes are a lot better when Simon Mayo is in the seat during weekday afternoons. Otherwise we are inflicted by a hotch potch of amateurs filling-in. One guy, Phil Williams, struggles to understand simple conversations and dumbs down any programme he happens to be parachuted into because the normal presenter is on their hols. (“give us a bell and have yer say” -ughhh!)
    Hmmm… I’m wondering why I listen at all now. What with the awful “Spoony” rambling his way through his dumb pontifications.
    Where are Fi Glover and Matthew Bannister? Richard Bacon at least knew what he was talking about and Edwina Currie was an improvement on many of those in place today. Unfortunately, they pulled Julian Worricker so he could do News 24.
    This is why I fiddle around with my radio, trying to find something on Radio 4 or the World Service that treats me like a thinking person. Andrew Marr on Start The Week is always interesting. From our Own Correspondent is often worth a listen. A lot of Radio 4 comedy is good, but other stuff doesn’t hit the mark. The Now Show is getting better and more witty, but the News Quiz is very formatty and tired.
    It’s a shame you know, because if some of us were controlling Five Live we could make it an excellent station, instead of what is has become today. Sacking Nolan and the annoying Anita Anaud would instantly improve things. RIP RFL

  8. […] Radio Five Live recently had some boring thing called “Your Five Live” or something. I think it lasted an entire week. And it was terrible. All week they were trailing a special debate to be. chaired by that voice of reason Stephen Nolan, about “the issue you told us concerned you the most”. Yes, you guessed it — immigration. That issue that seems to attract the regular Five Live phone-in callers but doesn’t seem to fuss people in the blogosphere that much. […]