The pesky BBC. Filling our nation with all of those radio stations, enriching our listening experience and – get this – having the cheek to do it with your money.
Honestly, if you believed some of the rants in recent days from apparently well-educated and well-heeled radio professionals, you’d wonder why the BBC was ever allowed to broadcast its blend of national, digital and local networks.
We’ll start with Len Groat – former programmer of Radio Trent and the pioneering oldies station Gem AM (the original medium wave one in the East Midlands). Goodness knows that Len has more years of wireless experience under his belt than many of us could ever dream of. For what he provided in those days, I salute him.
But (and this won’t surprise you), I simply can’t endorse, defend or do anything but argue against his relentless hatred of the BBC. If it’s not the large budgets afforded to some stations, it’s the (often female) voices he detests. Or the jingles. Or the managers. I might concur on one of those three subject areas, but there’s probably a good reason why Len’s blog is entitled “Radio Like It Used To Be”.
And yet, there are very good reasons why radio simply isn’t like it used to be. And – if Bauer gets its way with OFCOM – another tried, tested and failed commercial format will soon be no more.
Radio Today reports that Bauer wants to flip it’s FM and AM frequencies in Liverpool – putting City Talk (currently on 105.9FM) onto AM – and swapping it with (Radio) City 2. This would be in addition to the existing (original) Radio City on 96.7FM.
To the casual listener this might just seem like a bit of housekeeping. But the changes go much further. Because City Talk (the clue is in the title) would become an all music station. Only with a slightly different format than the other two “Radio Cities”.
The argument of whether commercial radio really can support all talk or talk heavy formats has been well documented. And, indeed, played out on the airwaves. Back in 1989, Radio City did something similar.
It didn’t last too long. So perhaps – in an ever more diluted market – we should not be surprised that Bauer now wants to effectively ditch its speech heavy commitments. Perhaps the most tangible and surprising aspect of this is the ending of football commentaries on Liverpool and Everton games – which will give the nasty BBC a free run on radio coverage.
Maybe it’s this which has prompted Steve Penk‘s astonishingly personal attack on Simon Mayo, followed by a rant on Radio 2’s funding formula, bemoaning that the BBC dies not operate on a level playing field with commercial radio.
Penk is best known for his hilarious prank wind up calls during the 1990s; a reputation that briefly catapulted him to network commercial radio fame and a couple of out-takes show on the telly. Simon Mayo – by contrast – is best known for his comedic Confessions feature; which briefly translated to a TV spin off.
Funny how only one of those features is still considered to be acceptable on air these days. But then again, radio’s never been a level playing field.