Friday, December 12, 2014

"Carry On Radio 2..."

Finding myself with no radio station for a few weeks as Solid Gold GEM AM 'closed' I ventured onto my Roberts WiFi to seek both musical enjoyment and perhaps hear a few neat 'radio tricks' I could 'borrow' if I did get a new show.

Being a 'jingle anorak' of 50 years standing, naturally I 'tuned' to BBC Radio 2 with its 'award winning' jingles and 'amazing music' played by an 'amazing line-up'. The Welsh woman I heard last time I tuned in (who wanted to know if I was "enjoyin' lisnin'....'') was thankfully gone... But what I heard was not agreeable.....

  • a 10 minute sequence on breakfast with EIGHT over-lapping (yappy) voices, and just half of an 'amazing' song
  • a succession of 'modern' songs that were not 'amazing' but sounded like 1970s singles by Stealer's Wheel or Billy Ocean
  • some sort of hospital radio style request show presented by a less than  'amazing' woman who sounded like a jaded nurse
  • Radio One interrupted transmission several times; the ever-young (excellent) Jo Whiley kept appearing on promos or a whole show
  • a crossed landline with BBC Radio Blackburn meant for one breakfast show it REALLY needed sub-titles as a woman mumbled her way through
  • I can only presume a complete digital failure on the Ken Bruce show meant the system switched to auto and played a track by AC- DC
And those 'award winning' jingles? I only ever heard two in any 45 minutes. And a heavily produced traffic jingle which is always spoken all over except for the vocal.An acapella would have done and saved the licence payer £3000. And there is a thumpy news jingle + forgettable 'Steeler's Wheel' type dj namechecks. 

The legendary (truly 'amazing') Tony Blackburn, and Steve Wright, two of the few ACTUAL dj's on the station, have forsaken the 'award winning' jingles and gone to jingle companies in Dallas and New York - I wonder why?

Now, I can hear the 'usual (troll) suspects' typing away on Digital Spy instantly about how successful Radio 2 is. 

But why IS it?

With 85% of the UK's commercial stations only geared to cater for under 40s there are not many other places for 40+ to go. So BBC Radio 2 is actually the only horse in the now lame (radio) race.... 

BBC Local radio does speech breakfast, with some (hurriedly trained) young women, and rather older men holding it together. And with NO music on Beeb local breakfast, the Bauer and Global stations can breathe a sigh of relief that 'Chantelle and Dwayne at breakfast' will get a passable audience - but if they don't the afternoon team 'Angelina and Riley'  can be swiftly moved to breakfast as 'Chantelle and Dwayne' are despatched to the dole office without murmuring a word...

With no choice other than to revert to Radio 2, it's carrying BBC Radio Walford with Peggy Mitchell's 'Golden Hour', what sounds like an old aircheck of Terry Wogan from 1984 - but minus the great JAM jingles, and BBC Radio Blackburn firmly control late Saturday nights.

Bob Shennan seems to have forgotten that radio is a one-to-one medium, and non-radio people shouting or mumbling over each other (in less than 'radio voices' or thick accents) does not make an 'amazing line-up'. Playing music by 'undiscovered' and 'un-signed' bands often leads to unlistenable music. And a string quartet led, re-work of 'Pictures of matchstick men' I heard FIVE times in 3 days is nothing like 'amazing music'.

Of course listening to Radio 2 I also could not avoid the 'first ever BBC Music Awards'. 

In an industry that already has far too many awards and not enough new talent to award them to, this really is superfluous. As if to prove my point the grossly over-glossy event actually gives just THREE awards! Its core aim seems to be to have the giant Radio 2 support its ailing 'cousin station' Radio 1. Forget choice - the event was carried on both stations simultaneously - a note from Global's (very small) book of 'how to do radio' perhaps? 

The BBC Music Awards was a tv/radio concoction that cost a fortune at a time the BBC has been asked repeatedly to use its (publicly funded) budget more wisely.

It consisted of over-played, worn-out songs by artists who either spent too much (or for one too little) time at their hair stylists, and endless cliches from the 'stars' and uneasy mix of presenters, a middle-aged man, and a woman wearing a dress that frankly looked rude - not quite the Radio 2 audience.

All the BBC Music Awards told us about today's radio and music business is that there is very little 'amazing music' and it's heavily over-played. The fact Radio's 2 and 1 were linked for this suggests we really do not need Radio 1 any more, as Radio 2 and the other higher-numbered BBC music stations, have stolen much of its ground.

I caught some of the Radio 2 breakfast today and yes it played the same number of songs in half an hour as the number of awards at the event last night - THREE. 

I think it's time for the BBC Speech Awards.  Radio 2 breakfast and all those local speech breakfast shows could hold an 'amazin' glossy night, and simulcast it on tv... blow the expense!


Postscript: *  The Guardian's report showed it was not well-received by the audience

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