Thursday, 6 January 2011

Folkwaves and BBC dorks... an update

Despite spirited protest, the BBC in the East Midlands has dropped its specialist music programmes on weekday evenings. Mrs QO and I listened to the first edition of the replacement programme hosted by Richard Spurr. Well, I say 'listened': we managed about seven minutes, of which three and a half were Flowers in the Rain by The Move. I daresay I shouldn't judge the programme on the three and a half other minutes, but you know what? It's my blog, and I will. I will rely on the comments made by others who did listen to a fair chunk of it.

It became apparent that the new three-hour show was to be a mix of bland oldies, inane talk, phone-ins (I gather nobody did, or if they did, they weren't allowed on air, probably because they were complaining) and interviews with such important people as somebody who didn't win The Apprentice. Our brains started running out of our ears; not a pleasant sensation.

Way to go, Auntie Beeb. Cutting-edge public service broadcasting at its bluntest. Piss off thousands of loyal local listeners to serve up exactly the same dross that commercial local radio used to do until it failed because advertisers realised nobody was listening.

And we might usefully define 'listening' here. The BBC maintain that the RAJAR figures for the specialist music programmes were low. I haven't seen the figures, so won't comment directly on that point. (Well, it's early in the year, I get back to my normal unreasonableness about March.) But we all know how often the radio is just squeaking away in the background, a kind of comforting white noise but not something you really tune into mentally. The specialist music programmes were listened to pretty intently, not just because of the music that was played, but for the local information and comment offered. Audience satisfaction would be very high, I'd argue, whereas the new programme is just tediously more of the same stuff we get all day, and I suspect would get much lower listener ratings, even if the total number of radios tuned in turns out to be higher. That in itself remains to be seen. Certainly nobody in the QO household will be listening to local radio in the evening any more, though we did on three or four nights a week before.

The reason the BBC doesn't have to mix it in the commercial world is so it can do stuff that the commercial broadcasters can't. It seems terribly sad to me that after more than 20 years of these excellent specialist shows, we now have a bland, 'one size fails to fit all' programme of ineffable tedium.

1 comment:

  1. I SO agree with you. I now don't listen to ANY BBC Radio (unless I manage to be at home for BBC 2 Folk with Mike Harding), and hardly see any BBC TV. So wondering WHY I'm still paying for a TV licence (sigh)