The axing of Mixing It

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.


  1. I agree completely – what the hell are they thinking? World Routes and Andy Kershaw’s Sunday show are all that’s left.

  2. The axing of Mixing It pt. 2…

    Mixing It presenter Mark Russell has an interesting post about the demise of the programme. It certainly seems as though the programme has been quite harshly treated by Radio 3 in its final months. Thanks to Simon Russell who sent me the link.


  3. I have entered a complaint at the BBC site – it’s painless, so DO IT!!

    MI was also probably my fave radio show. I’m also dismayed at the way the two presenters were treated. They were basically censored.

  4. Mixing It resurrected — sort of…

    Fans of Mixing It who use should consider joining the Mixing It group! The neat thing is that each group has its own “radio station”. The more diverse the music collections of the group members is, the more eclectic…

  5. I’m French,and I’m 63(oh!my god!so much?),and I love “mixingit”.
    Typing this while listening to the last edition,and getting goose skin because of the show and because of thinking this is the end,my friends…
    Why do I feel like hearing a certain sadness (although they try not to show)in Mark and Robert’s voices?
    I discovered “mixingit” about a year ago,receiving BBC only on the Internet,being a very new user of computers(before buying mine in May 2004 I did’nt even know how to switch on a computer…)and from then on I tried to listen to,and record “mixingit”.
    So we have to say good-bye to our two friends,and all the listeners,but music(all kinds of)will still go on,n’est-ce-pas?
    So,bye!and thank you Mark and Robert!

  6. Mixing It resurrected — for real!…

    Yes, it’s true! Mixing It is returning! Not to Radio 3, but that’s Radio 3’s loss. Mixing It’s new home is on Resonance FM.
    According to Mark Russell himself, posting on the “alternative” Radio 3 message board (set…

  7. I’m glad I’ve found some kindred spirits. Not that I ever listened to “Mixing It” very much – if it was on Saturdays, that’s probably because the radio always got turned off at the stroke of 6.30 before that nauseating sugary American accent introducing the dreadful “Opera from the Met” could assault my eardrums, and if I turned it on later it was only by accident, although I do remember hearing a few interesting MI programmes. No, my rage is reserved for Late Junction – not only cut from 4 progs to 3, but shifted an hour later. Now, be honest, who stays up to 1am in the middle of the week? I can’t – I have to get up in the morning. So I may catch the first half hour of the new LJ but it has to go off by 12. And it’s not as if there weren’t plenty of dead wood that could be cut out – the repeat of “This Week’s Composer” for a start, and those talkie programmes that seem to exist only so that the sometimes rather smug participants can hear the sounds of their own voices … couldn’t all that lot be transferred to 3am when we’re all asleep?

    Has Kershaw been axed too, or did I dream that? Jesus Christ, what’s going on here?

    And what are we going to DO about it? I complained too, but got a bland, patronising response. I’d like to hit them where it hurts, but I don’t know where that is!


  8. I really would prefer it if people didn’t demonise Friends of Radio 3 in this way for opinions they don’t hold. I’ve been in touch with Mark ever since the axing of Mixing It. He will assure you he has no problems with FoR3’s views which considered Mixing It as part of Radio 3’s proper remit.

    Hear & Now and Mixing It were two sides of the same coin and it’s perfectly possible for people to like both, AND like classical music (interesting views about the opera and classical ‘dead wood’, by the way).

    Anyway, Mark and Robert – and Mixing It – will soon be heard on Resonance FM: Mark tells me this morning that they’ve just recorded their first programme.

    Lawrie Packer, Friends of Radio 3

  9. If you have broadband then I’d suggest New Jersey radio station WFMU for an experimental fix.

    The schedule is at

    World of Echo (Wire contributor Dave Mandl) , Stochastic Hit Parade, Give The Drummer Some and plenty more all play interesting stuff, there’s also loads and loads of other stuff.

    Best of all the have about 5 years worth of old programs you can listen to.