I've paid my £140-odd quid for the year, and given that I don't watch a single fucking thing on any one of your channels, I figure this entitles me to chalk a few words on your survey about Radio 1 (http://www.bbcyoursay.co.uk/radio-1). Please find them attached for your perusal and delectation.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NOT SO GOOD ABOUT RADIO 1?
The station's general practice of hiring ready-made TV personalities with little-to-no radio ability instead of nurturing younger talent from a range of student and cultural media is maddening beyond words. The likes of Fearne Cotton, Vernon Kay, Sara Cox and Kelly Osbourne are not natural radio talents, and it shows in the horrendously forced nature of their presenting styles. This also shows a highly negligent misapplication of funds, as 'name' celebrities generally command higher salaries which are arguably ill-deserved in a medium which is not their natural domain. Moreover, this situation drastically reduces the number of opportunities open to talented younger broadcasters, both internally and externally.
I would suggest the same is equally true when transferring radio presenters across to TV - Jo Whiley in particular is absolutely appalling in both media. On radio, she cannot form a basic sentence without fumbling her words or mastering the simple art of talking and speaking simultaneously, whereas on TV she is hopelessly out of her depth, proffering irrelevant lines of questioning and staging embarrassing, awkward interviews. Quite how she has ascended to the position of prominence she currently holds - particularly with regard to championing new music, when anyone with a casual interest in the contemporary music scene is usually aware of her latest recommendation anywhere up to a year before it warrants the privilege of a mention on her show - remains a constant source of mystery to me. (As an aside, her daily Changing Tracks feature, replete with jarring 'sincere' tone, remains also one of the most laughably awful radio features since Our Song).
IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT MAKES RADIO 1 DIFFERENT AND STAND OUT FROM OTHER RADIO STATIONS?
Its firm commitment to a specific demographic and the attendant range of musical genres it caters for is certainly a distinctive hallmark. However, I do think the station would benefit from focusing its attention outward a little more and nurturing an interest beyond the immediate musical present, particularly during its daytime programming. Whenever a Bank Holiday rolls around and the station runs a total-request day, the songs that are asked for by the public differ so greatly from the day-to-day musical output that it suggests to me that the tastes of Radio 1's imagined demographic aren't quite as neatly aligned with the station's preconceptions as they would like to think. "What d'you fancy, love - that new Rihanna one again, or Killing in the Name?" Exactly.
RADIO 1 IS MEANT TO PROVIDE A RANGE OF NEW MUSIC. HOW WELL DO YOU THINK THE STATION DOES THIS?
From a cross-genre perspective, generally well. Its musical output is mostly current and dominated by upcoming singles or contemporary hits. This is not to say, however, that the station wouldn't benefit from more variety in its playlists - hearing the exact same songs at the same time day after day quickly becomes more tiresome than a Mighty Boosh fan convention, and more often than not it is responsible for records being unceremoniously ruined through overplay. Tracks like The Gossip's Standing in the Way of Control and Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out, once capable of generating the slightest modicum of a thrill, have both now been reduced to mere wallpaper devoid of any emotional affect whatsoever. Is this the kind of relationship we want people to forge with music, the single most powerful cultural medium on our planet? I think not.
Venturing deeper into each genre, the specialist departments also don't do nearly enough to differentiate themselves from both the daytime output (why is there an insistence on continuity between the daytime playlist and evening specialist shows?) or similar shows on rival stations. The Radio 1 Rock Show in particular is an absolute disgrace. Its musical content is a bloodless approximation of what the producers *think* rock fans listen to, rather than an accurate reflection of current tastes across what they often fail to acknowledge is a massive spectrum. Consequently, it falls between too many stools and ends up pleasing only the most undiscerning (some would say disengaged) specialist fans. Indeed, when you have a show that most fans in the rock and metal community refuse to listen to, chances are you're going desperately wrong somewhere.
RADIO 1 IS MEANT TO PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR NEW AND EMERGING MUSICAL ARTISTS FROM THE UK. HOW WELL DO YOU THINK THE STATION DOES THIS?
Poorly. Radio 1 rarely takes genuine risks on upcoming British talent and too often opts for the safest middle-ground by championing artists destined to succeed through major-label backing or pre-built hype. Instead of playing a handful of designated songs ad nauseum throughout the course of the week, it baffles me why it's assumed that anything outside of a certain musical safety-zone will prove too challenging for listeners. Producers and presenters should let listeners make their own minds up rather than proscribing all other prospective tastes; the only way to do this is by offering a greater variety of previously-unheard music rather than focusing on a few "pet-projects" which they hammer relentlessly for a couple of months. Though the addition of Huw Stephens to the Radio 1 roster marks a commendable advance in highlighting unsigned talent, the fact remains that there have been any number of great underground British acts in recent years whose inexplicable snubbing by Radio 1 has ultimately led to their disbanding. The advance of an art-form is only as strong as the means by which it is able to disseminate, and to this end Radio 1 is failing more British musical artists than it is helping them. When it is generally accepted within the industry that an upcoming band is unlikely to receive mass acceptance without the nod of approval from Jo Whiley and Edith Bowman, something has to change.
Over in Australia, British bands are regularly featured on the (state-funded) radio station Triple J who couldn't get airplay on the BBC if they held a gun to Mark Thompson's head. Triple J's coverage of both homegrown and international bands from emerging genres - particularly with regard to nurturing interest in an artist beyond the immediate success of a lone hit single - shows up Radio 1's coverage of similar areas as desperately deficient. In an industry that is rapidly evolving and finding new ways to circumvent previous methods of distribution, it is vital for emerging British artists to be given more of a platform prior to being signed by a record label. Too often it seems to be the case that the station picks up on acts only after they've been bludgeoned over the head with their prowess and they've become impossible to ignore. Radio 1 should lead trends, not follow them: quite why Biffy Clyro - previously the single biggest underground band in the UK with a five-year track-record of inventive and exciting music - started receiving attention only when they were signed to a major label and Radio 1 felt the public "ready" for them is beyond me.
HOW WELL DO YOU THINK RADIO 1 COVERS AND PLAYS LIVE MUSIC? FOR EXAMPLE, THINK ABOUT LIVE MUSIC SESSIONS SUCH AS THOSE FROM THE LIVE LOUNGE, AND EVENTS SUCH AS RADIO 1'S BIG WEEKEND.
Radio 1 prides itself on being the biggest promoter of live music in the UK, and to a certain extent this claim is just - certainly it has been responsible for some of the highest-profile gigs this country's seen in recent years and the accessibility of this content across a range of media has been commendable. Again though, Radio 1's live music events seem predominantly concerned with only delivering 'safe-bet' tried-and-tested acts rather than offering a platform to upcoming talent (as noted previously, by the time Radio 1 gets hold of many of these bands, the groundwork for their success has already been laid and they seem destined to break through with or without the station's help). Instead of slapping itself on the back for months on end whenever they fill a stadium with a stadium-sized band (tall order, I know), they ought to be paying equal attention to nurturing a grass-roots music scene here in the UK. I was flummoxed to say the least when the 'In New Music We Trust' stage at last year's 1 Big Weekend was headlined by Primal Scream, a band who've been around for nearly 20 years. Having a new album out isn't quite the same as being a new band - this stage should be showcasing unsigned acts generating a buzz on the underground circuit rather than showing us bands who already receive daily airplay on the station.
This is equally true of the BBC's lamentable coverage of the Glastonbury festival each year, which is so predictable and pandering in its selection of acts that it has become a source of embarrassment to serious music fans (and not just because Jo Whiley's on there fluffing her way through irrelevant banter about skirts and hair each year). The BBC has the potential to reach, inform and influence millions of music fans worldwide, and to expose those people to more new bands from a massive array of genres than any other major broadcast network. As it stands, however, the BBC - and Radio 1 in particular - does more to maintain the status quo than advance contemporary music.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RADIO 1'S NEWSBEAT PROGRAMMES AND NEWS BULLETINS?
Generally solid. However, the station's cultural scope needs to widen if there's any hope that its audience might start paying the slightest bit of attention to the world beyond Heat magazine. Radio 1's near-constant emphasis on celebrity culture and consumerism is encouraging a generation of listeners to think only in terms of who snogged who on last night's Big Brother and whether they're going to be able to afford the latest superfluous gadget. Also, having James King (a man who's somehow managed to forge a career as a film critic by doing nothing more than explain the plot before saying "good" or "bad") treat foreign-language, leftfield, documentary or independent films like a turd to be poked cautiously with a stick doesn't exactly encourage a healthy, holistic interest in the arts. A film is a film, mate.
RADIO 1 AIMS TO KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE INFORMED AND PROVIDE ADVICE ON A RANGE OF ISSUES RELEVANT TO YOUNG PEOPLE. THIS IS DONE THROUGH THE WEEKLY SHOW THE SURGERY WITH KELLY OSBOURNE AS WELL AS SPECIAL EVENTS AND FEATURES. RECENT EXAMPLES INCLUDE THE ALCOHOL EXPERIMENT AND THE EXAM HELPLINE. HOW WELL DO YOU THINK RADIO 1 DOES THIS?
While I commend Radio 1's ongoing commitment to addressing issues that affect young people, their coverage suffers from the exact same problem as BBC Switch - namely that this content is blatantly top-heavy management hand-downs from producers hopelessly out-of-touch with a demographic they themselves share no affinity with. Wouldn't it be more educational and informative to air smart, structured documentaries on issues affecting teenagers instead of having Kelly Osbourne - a girl whose most traumatic life-experience to date probably lies somewhere between reaching her credit-card limit and being refused a gold-plated toilet seat for her 18th - gob heartfelt advice like "Yeah, that's well bad"?
The reason most teenagers hate BBC Switch (and, conversely, love T4) is because they resent being talked down to by 40-something producers who think there are valuable life lessons to be learned from the antics of hip young things like Jeff Leach. By definition, I fall outside Radio 1's stated target demographic by only a couple of years, but as a regular listener to the station in my working environment I know for a fact that if I were listening to Radio 1 or watching BBC Switch as a teenager I would feel just as affronted by their infinite condescension as I do thinking that my licence fee helps fund what is generally regarded as something of a 'yoof'-chasing embarrassment.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO TELL US ABOUT RADIO 1?
I think the above just about covers it.
PS - Scott Mills is quite funny though.