‘6’ of One; Half a Dozen (the Others)
I have written a couple of features regarding (the understated) joy…
of radio. In the 21st century, we are relying on radio less and less: more and more on the Internet and social media. My discourse and anger is not going to abate: why are we starting to rebel against (the natural source) of music? In the past- as recently as a few years ago- people turned into the radio to hear the latest bands and artists. With the proliferation of social media and streaming services: radio seems like an outdated and lumpen form of fact-finding. At the click of a button we can find music from around the world; play any song we wish- make our own songs if we wish.
The reason I am bringing up radio- and this subject as a whole- is my conversion to ‘Radio 6 Music. I have always been a fan of Absolute Radio– and continue to be so- but have begun to embrace a rather special radio show. For those of you unaware: ‘Radio 6 Music is part of the B.B.C.– one of their more underrated stations- and was threatened with closure a few years ago. The problem was to do with anonymity: many people did not know about ‘Radio 6 Music. Not widely advertised and promoted- how many stations are?- it was doomed for extinction. Gladly, the station has survived and continues to grow in popularity. Whilst ‘Radio 1 has its demographic- the 18-30 audience; those who hate music- and ‘Radio 2– the slightly ‘mature’ and unadventurous type- those who adore music (of all ages) need something to fill the void. I am not a fan of ‘Radio 1– it is immensely flawed and unlikeable- and I find ‘Radio 2 is too safe and family-friendly. Absolute Radio– in terms of mainstream options- is the next-best but has its flaws: the music played is perhaps the biggest one of all. I love Absolute Radio– Frank Skinner’s Saturday morning show is the highlight of the week- but (the station) gets bogged down in chart music and predictable ‘oldies’.
‘Radio 6 Music is a cutting-edge and ‘cool’ option- I have not heard Travis, Coldplay or Keane played- and is a natural sanction for those who pride the quality of music above all else. I understand why ‘Radio 2 is the nation’s most-popular station. It provides comfort and familiarity to a large sector of the population: those who want to be soothed and eased into the day; have a friendly voice coming from their radio. It may sound like I am being patronising- so hard to intone in print- but I am not- I have no issues with the station. My brain starts to boil when we look at (‘Radio 2’s) sister station, ‘Radio 1. The blare-the-music-right-in-your-face approach- tied with ‘youth-orientated’; loud D.J.s- is hardly conducive to the kind who want to keep music’s dignity and value ablaze. Aside from the predictable playlists- mainstream Pop and Dance- and tendency to embrace new music- very few older tracks make it into the mix- it is hopelessly derivative, shallow and handicapped. The station has a great roster of talent- in terms of gender and race; much less white than every other station- but is squandering the chance to inspire the young generations. This is where ‘Radio 6 Music comes in…
If you want to start your (week)day off with a smile: Shaun Keaveny’s gruff northern tones- the wit and everyman quality- is the perfect pick-me-up. Follow that with Lauren Laverne- someone I can hear talk all day; about anything- and you have a perfect combination. Between the two; there are great features- Desert Island Disco among them- that gives listeners the chance to submit music and explain their choices. The D.J.s themselves feature a wonderful selection of tunes: from Miles Davis to D.J. Shadow; ‘60s classics to too-cool-for-school Indie darlings- every taste and genres is catered for (except for Country and Death Metal). I have been introduced to songs I’d forgotten about: every day, something new clicks in the brain; your musical imagination becomes richer and more astonished. It is not just the D.J.s that amaze me: they are warm and witty; have a great humour and affection for what they do. I love the fact ‘Radio 6 Music is still an underground treat. Splitting their talent between Salford and London- Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie (among others) is in Salford; the rest in London- you get a variation of accents and voices. Aside from a lack of racial diversity- a problem that blights most commercial stations- there are very few faults.
The music is the most important thing: it is the reason ‘Radio 6 Music rules them all. Not fitting into moulds and marketing strategies: there is a freedom and mobility that few others possess. This lack of boundaries means the station can go from strength-to-strength. Every day, there are terrific shows and informative documentaries: a wide variety of songs and endless entertainment. I could not get through the working week without an (unhealthy) dose of ‘Radio 6 Music. This might sound like an election pitch- it is; in a subtle sort of way- but it acts as a general concern. Too many of us are relying on the Internet for music and a certain type of sound. Too many young people are not dipping into the past: there is a general ignorance of so much music; a snobbish refusal to embrace anything before 2006. If you are bored and uninspired by B.B.C. Radio 1 and 2; the limitations and negatives inherent- you should turn yourself to ‘Radio 6 Music.
Being based where I am- in a white, baby-proofed part of the U.K.- the local stations are, to understate it, somewhat boring and staid. Catering for the young families and middle-class audiences- the most nauseating demographics you could hope- the airwaves are filled with tripe and cloying D.J.s; inane competitions and hideous adverts. I have given up discovering anything vaguely credible: it is sad London has to provide the solution. On the flip-side- the lameness of the local radio scene- it is great this country has such a great station- long may it reign! It has inspired me to follow suit and think about my own alternative: a similarly-themed podcast that would play the same sort of music and genres; interesting features and consistent quality.
If you have a true affection for music- and want to get a grasp of multiple genres and decades- doing it on your own can be a challenging feat. The most popular stations in the U.K. can be, on the whole, somewhat lacklustre and overrated. There are some great local stations in London- the D.I.Y. approach always yields great talent and music- but they have their flaws (budget and consistency among them). ‘Radio 6 Music is the natural champion in my view. Not only are the D.J.s in love with music and hugely likeable: the songs they play cater for multiple tastes and ages- they exclude nobody. One of the problems with new music is how unprogressive and original it can be. Too many artists are obsessed with the ‘Radio 1-approved acts: as a consequence; they are missing out on a whole world. The listenership of this country needs to be more bold and adventurous. I am not saying you abandon other stations and convert to ‘Radio 6 Music: just incorporate it into your regular rotation. When we all show much bravery and discerning taste; mix things up and forsake the overrated options- music’s true beauty will reveal itself. Those who have the most passion for ALL music should head to ‘Radio 6 Music…
IT is the station for you.
Follow ‘Radio 6 Music