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Radiodread – The Battle for the Soul of 6Music

“Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don’t give you any choice ’cause they think that it’s treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio”

Elvis Costello, ‘Radio Radio’ 1978

Do you listen to BBC 6 Music? You really should, especially if you like the sort of music we ramble on about here at ELM. It’s got a bit of everything through the day, with a bent which leans towards current left of the dial stuff. You’ll get Fleet Foxes and The Hold Steady and The Ting Tings and Elbow, but you’ll also get the Teardrop Explodes and the Flaming Groovies and The Stones. You also get some Coldplay, but swings and roundabouts. But 6 Music, formerly a paragon of difference in today’s rather over-populated and paralysed by fear marketplace, has taken the bizarre decision that their listeners shouldn’t be given what they want. Despite the overwhelming listenership being refugees who’ve deserted other radio stations because they don’t feel catered for, 6 has decided to make it a bit more ‘accessible’. That’s right, ‘accessible’. As in Chris Moyles accessible. You are right to be afraid.

The main symptom of this change was the removal of 6 Music founder Gideon Coe. Coe was a grumpy, music obsessed bloke who you could imagined shoehorned into into a sweaty gig most nights and an enthusiastic collector of Molly Half Head vinyl. He talked a bit between records, read out emails but mainly, stuck to great tunes, new and old. It was a terrific show, a music fan’s show and one which said ‘we like this; we think you do too.’ No need to patronise, no need to titillate. You haven’t heard of Coe because he hasn’t done anything else. He was perfectly happy doing what he did. He was bumped to the 10pm to 1am slot – the dictionary definition of ‘accessible’ as I’m sure you will agree.

His replacement was a chap called George Lamb. Lamb is a ‘personality DJ.’ Now, that phrase will strike a deep and unmistakeably fearful chord with anyone who has ever heard Garry Davies. He says ‘shabba’. He has a group of people in the studio with him who make small chat and laugh at his jokes. Gideon did not have this. It’s unsettling. He clearly doesn’t love music, not the way the 6 Music listenership does. Sure, he’ll play Elbow and Sam Sparro and raves about them, but you know that if you played him a blast of ‘Shake Some Action’ he’d smile politely, not having a fucking clue why you were doing it. You may well know his name as he has popped up as a presenter on a Big Brother off-shoot. This is not a career move of a man who wants to dedicate his craft to rock n’roll.

And in all fairness, it’s all not his fault – he is better than any ‘personality DJ’ on any other station. He is occasionally quite funny. And so he isn’t a music snob, you say? What’s so heinous? But the point is, 6 Music IS for music snobs. It’s a digital station paid for by the taxpayer. It doesn’t have to stick with limpit regularity to an embarrassingly conservative playlist á la Virgin. It doesn’t have to pick up an NME and play all the ones listed in there that are also in Tesco like XFM. It is supposed to provide an alternative. If you aren’t all that bothered about music and like a rather laddish laugh, you have Moyles. If you like obvious indie being portrayed as hip, you have Whiley. If you like inanity 24/7 you have commercial stations ad nauseum. Why are we being punished for wanting something different.

Gideon has been moved back in hour, which looks a pathetic attempt to give him a better slot. Instead, what had been a great show for serious music fans has been replaced by a comedy show aimed at a lower common denominator. And that’s another sad indication of what people think of the audience out there in 2008. Sometimes I’m not sure that Britain is being dumbed down, so much as being trampled.

Bring back Gideon. Let 6Music exist to do what it did. And hey, Controller, leave those weird kids alone. We want our outlet back!

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3 Responses

  1. George Lamb also used to be Lily Allen’s manager, so not only is he responsible fro bumping Gid, but he inflicted that talentless little whore on us as well. Cheers, George. Now, fuck off, will you?

  2. Is there a way to play the station live on itunes? rather than real player and windows media? i usually listen to http://www.woxy.com during the day. They play some fantastic music.

  3. Hey Greg, its a BBC digital channel, so you can stream it via real player from the BBC website. When the BBC went digital, to justify spending public money on it they set up a load of niche stations – 1xtra is a black/urban, radio 7 is spoken word etc etc. 6 was originally for alternative music lover not covered by main stream radio. and now they are failing. I say start a coup! We could have Brown out of no.10 by Friday!!

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