Although I have the sad feeling that this will be too little, too late, I add my voice to those speaking up in defence of 6Music.
My first DAB radio was a wedding present 5 1/2 years ago and the first station I listened to was 6Music. It wasn’t always an easy listen – the first presenters I heard gave me the feeling of being an ignorant little girl in a club for clever people. That changed.
Some of those same presenters are now my regular companions – all by switching on my radio in the evening. Their knowledge and passion for music has encouraged me to expand my music knowledge and discover new (and some old) bands. I don’t always like everything I hear but that’s the point. I don’t want some bland homogenised radio station that tries to be all things to all people – if I did, I’d listen to Absolute Radio. What I want is to be challenged and to have the freedom to say “that’s terrible”. Because I also know that if one song is terrible there’s a good chance the next song will be great. And what’s even better is that the presenters acknowledge that I might not like everything and stick to their choices anyway.
Critics of 6Music this week have countered with tales of Peel sessions, low listening figures and George Lamb. Yes, there are Peel sessions (and let’s be honest, he played some right shit once in a while too…) but there are also new sessions every week – Marc Riley welcomes a band into the studio every night. Low listening figures? Well that’s partly your fault – how much have you promoted this station? Yes, the digital switchover is proving more difficult than people thought but there is a lot more you could have done to promote listening figures. And George Lamb? There was a massive outcry when he came to the station because he seemed to be the antithesis of what 6 was trying to do. Moving someone as knowledgeable, charming and funny as Gideon Coe for George Lamb? A massive mistake – your fault too.
6Music is not a station you should be apologising for. It certainly isn’t a station you should be axing. There is a range of music that is not played anywhere else, there is a whole host of wonderful presenters who offer insight and understanding of music and of the music industry.
I have always been a massive fan of the BBC and very proud of its world-class reputation. I grew up listening only to Radio 1, shunning my friends’ commercial listening choices at school. My great grandfather was a variety artist who appeared in some of the first BBC short wave broadcasts, and whose records were regularly played on Malcolm Laycock’s Sunday night show (before you interfered in that too). (Incidentally my great-grandfather’s records were also played on John Peel’s show.)
I don’t want to come home in the evening and have to seek out some new bands who might make it onto Spotify or myspace (fighting through the adverts). Putting my itunes on shuffle is not enough. I want to come home and listen to presenters who I regard as old friends, having them read out texts or emails I have sent them and having them play music which I may or may not love.
I know you have intense pressure to make savings – pressure that comes from small minded sources who would rather kowtow to commercial forces – but there has to be another way. Save 6 music – it’s my licence fee too.