Friday, 26 February 2010

BBC - Killing the Music

So what do the following people have in common?
Phill Jupitus; Lauren Laverne; Jarvis Cocker; Russell Howard; Craig Charles; Bruce Dickinson; Andrew Collins; Liz Kershaw; Guy Garvey; Stuart Maconie; Jon Richardson; Huey Morgan; Marc Riley; Gideon Coe; Steve Lamacq?
They are all current or former presenters on 6Music, one of the BBC’s digital radio stations, and one, along with Asian Network, which the BBC is apparently planning on cutting in order to save some money, and prove that the license fee is value for money. Andrew Collins argues very well for it to be saved on his blog, Phill Jupitus has written an article for The Guardian explaining why it should be saved, Twitter has been a-Twitter all day with messages of outrage and support (how I first heard of the story), and even presenters from rival commercial stations are chipping in their support.
I listen to 6Music. With the lineup on a Sunday, it is my station of choice for the weekend. I am outside the target demographic for Radio 1 (and really do have trouble listening to it for a large amount of time, I am, I fear, turning into my parents) and as the country’s major publicly funded pop station, it plays popular music. Not necessarily great music, but then nor was the music I listened to when I was an avid Radio 1 listener, back when I did fit the demographic, despite being resolutely “alternative” in my preferred musical tastes. I am, according to the BBC’s latest report, within the demographic for Radio 2 (thank goodness – Radcliffe and Maconie – I AM allowed to listen to you), however, with the call for more content to appeal to the 50+ listener to be broadcast at peak hours, I am worried that I may miss out on the bits of Radio 2 I do enjoy. The target audience for Radio 2 is so wide, that there is going to be a minimum amount of programming which will be loved by each micro-demographic. For goodness’ sake Auntie – you can’t have a radio station which appeals to both me and my Dad – we’re close, but the defiant generation gap still remains! He was a Beatles fan, me Duran Duran – there’s a big difference in what appeals to us, so try to hit us both at once, and you are going to miss!
I’m not a classical music fan, so don’t “do” Radio 3, but strongly defend its right to exist. It is popular, and obviously hits the market it is aiming for.
Radio 4 – I’m not an Archers fan – but for the reason of that one programme alone, and its amazing fan base, you can’t take it away. Radio 4 provides a mix of programmes which can’t be found anywhere else. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of broadcasting – take it away, and we lose something from our nation.
5 Live – Ah. Yes. The one thing my Dad and I do agree on when it comes to broadcasting – the BBC do news and sports commentary like nowhere else in the world. Long may you thrive and continue (waves to Victoria Derbyshire who was a couple of years ahead of her in school).
5 Live Sports Extra. Take my Aggers and Blowers away, and You Will Know About It Auntie.
6 Music – My musical home. Classic alternative songs, and cracking new bands. 6 Music has put me back in touch with pop and rock. It is daring, it is different, it inspires a passion in its presenters. It represents the spiritual home for punk/indie/new wave/Britpop and all the other names that have been given to a gang of mates in a garage, or a back bedroom with a couple of guitars and a Passion. Classic archives, John Peel sessions, new music, old favourites that nowhere else plays. I challenge the detractors to listen to Huey Morgan, who has the most chilled, eclectic, Sunday afternoon show I have heard – or Guy Garvey, who lulls me into relaxation on a Sunday evening – playing scratchy old swing and jazz tracks up against Joan as Policewoman, and loving them all.
1Xtra – Not my cup of tea, and too much crossover with Radio 1 for my taste, but if it is your cup of tea, then good for you. I can’t really comment on it, as it has never appealed to me – but diversity and a place for it should be what it’s all about – keep it on air, and keep it loud!
Asian Network – never really listened, but the only national radio station which caters for this demographic – so something unique that would probably not be commercially viable – public service broadcasting – is this not the BBC’s raison d’etre?
Radio 7 – Dr Who and Torchwood plays; book adaptations; classic comedy – well worth a dip.
So the BBC covers a large audience – why then is it intent on cherry picking out the 6Music audience, and abandoning is to the Mammon of Commercial Broadcasting? Not many people have heard of it – not surprising when not many people have made the full switch to Digital – many listen to the radio in their car (hence the ratings for breakfast and drive time shows) – the car hasn’t got DAB – so there’s a potential large audience who can’t get the radio station – once we go 100% Digital, then maybe more people will happen across the digital stations. Ever heard of Marketing, Auntie? If only 20% of the population have heard of the product, however of those who listen, the vast majority are loyal and enthusiastic, maybe it is less to do with the station and more to do with the organisation?
I wonder where the duplication is with Asian Network and 6Music commercially. There is a little overlap with 6Music and Radio 2, however if the recent report is implemented, and the Radio 2 offering does become aimed more at the over 50s, where do my generation go? You know, the generation who peaked the sale of the single? The generation who grew up with Punk, New Wave, 2Tone, and so on? The Factory Generation, the Smiths Generation – possibly the most productive and creative musical generation there has yet been (not to say that there’s been nothing good since the 80s – just that there seemed to be a vast explosion of originality and “diy music” throughout that time – and now anyone who is any good has to beat the talent show tie in to get heard – anywhere but 6Music, that is).
I pay my license fee – and the BBC I use the most is the website (oops – I hear half of that’s disappearing as well) and 6Music. Why should I pay a tax to provide others with tailored content, when I cannot find the content I require anywhere else? Commercial Radio largely caters for the over 50s and the under 30s in terms of the musical programming – but not necessarily for the people I know in their 30s and 40s – ever heard a “Gold” station play The Buzzcocks or Hendrix, or a chart station play anything which hasn’t yet charted? Surely the fact that it was largely the 6Music type of audience who was ready willing and able to usurp the Cowell-dictatorship of the charts this Christmas should show the BBC the potential for the alternative market that is out there? Good music which is not necessarily commercially successful, can only become commercially successful via airplay and exposure, something there is precious little of outside of “alternative” sources such as 6Music.
Just ask yourself. When you think of “Geraldine” in association with music, who do you think of? Your Glasvegas Social Worker, or Peter Kay? And who would you rather think of in the future? Lose 6Music, and we risk being told which anodyne music to listen to by Simon Cowell… God Help the lot of us.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Natural Born Dyers... is born!

For the past few months, my beloved OH has been working away with yarns, fibres and natural dyes. Today, he has finally taken the plunge, and has launched his website and his Etsy shop.
There are yarns and fibres - chunky yarns, sock yarn, laceweight and some Falkland batts. All have been naturally dyed using either homegrown, locally collected, or purchased dried natural dyestuffs (there is more info on the website).
Please pop over and pay him a visit - we're excited about this, and I'd love for him to make a success of this!