BBC 6 Music is the only radio station I’ve encountered that is focused solely on good (non-classical) music, with a particular emphasis on up-and-coming singers and groups. The entire station is essentially a continuation of the work done for many years by the late great John Peel.
The DJs are extremely knowledgable about the music played, and regularly have bands into the studio to perform live and talk about the music, continuing a tradition that goes back to the early 60s when the Beatles (amongst others) would come in to perform on the light programme. There is no time for the tedious light-hearted “banter” engaged in by the likes of Jonathan Ross or Terry Wogan on Radio 2.
My favourite show, and the reason I have a DAB aerial stuck to the front of my house, is Marc Riley’s weekday evening show. Not only does he play great music, but he has a fantastically subtle dry sense of humour, not unlike that of Eddie Mair. And he has the best jingles. I also enjoy Lauren Laverne, Craig Charles’ Funk ‘n’ Soul show (yes, that Craig Charles!), and Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour (when it’s on).
A quick look through my iTunes ‘purchased music’ list reveals that I’ve bought music from Voluntary Butler Scheme, King Creosote, The Loves, The Poems, Pete and The Pirates, The Wave Pictures, Half Man Half Biscuit, XX Teens, Vetiver, Wild Billy Childish and Beans on Toast – all as a result of hearing them on 6 Music. I’ve also seen several of these groups live. Most of these are new groups who get vital exposure on 6 Music. Radio 1, Radio 2 and the commercial stations simply won’t take the risk of playing anything other than safe music designed to appeal to a middle-of-the-road audience and advertisers.
Lib Dem spokesperson Don Foster has said that 6 Music and the Asian Network are being used as sacrificial lambs. He’s absolutely right – if cost savings need to be made, there are plenty of other places that they could look. I would suggest that taking a long hard look at TV channels BBC3 and BBC4 would be a good start.
So what can we do to help save 6 Music? Well, of course, comment on the BBC Trust’s consultation. But most of all, listen to the station, and if you like it, tell your friends. It’s been very poorly advertised up till now, and hopefully the listener figures will take a big jump as a result of this week’s publicity. You can listen on Freeview (TV), DAB (radio) or online. Anyone listening live online will be counted by the BBC’s servers, so why not listen while browsing, or check out some old shows on iPlayer.
Hopefully together we can persuade the BBC to reverse this decision.