Recent comments

Bestseller

BBC Radio 6 Music's reshuffle is a grim reminder of our mortality

BBC Radio 6 Music's reshuffle is a grim reminder of our mortality

Music BBC Radio 6 Music's reshuffle is a grim reminder of our mortality Laura Snapes Laura Snapes

Promoting two women is progress â€" but otherwise the ‘new’ lineup is a safety-first station catering to listeners who aren’t as young as they used to be

‘A classic 6 Music cabinet reshuffle’ ... (L-R) Mary Anne Hobbs, Lauren Laverne and Shaun Keaveny.
‘A classic 6 Music cabinet reshuffle’ ... (L-R) Mary Anne Hobbs, Lauren Laverne and Sha un Keaveny. Composite: Suki Dhanda, BBC, The Mancorialist

It is the BBC radio renovation the nation has been craving. The transferral of a long-in-the-tooth breakfast-show presenter to a grandfatherly mid-afternoon slot, his replacement a younger, female livewire.

Or not quite. Sadly, it is not yet time to pass around the collection tin for John Humphrys: the news concerns the very mildest
changing of the guard at Radio 6 Music. From 2019, Lauren Laverne will take over the breakfast show from Shaun Keaveny, who after 11 years (more than Moyles; less than Wogan) moves to weekday afternoons, joined by news presenter Matt Everitt. Mary Anne Hobbs gets Laverne’s weekday mid-morning slot, and Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie nab Hobbs’ weekend breakfast gig.

Moving to weekends ... (L-R) Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Moving to weekends ... (L-R) Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe. Photograph: BBC

Props to 6 Music for promoting two of the station’s female presenters, even though overall they make up a paltry 27% of the station’s lineup. It is now one of the rare national radio stations with two women in prime daytime slots â€" though, shamefully, still no people of colour. Laverne’s luminous and diverse show is far more invigorating than Keaveny’s dawn chorus, a prompt to hit snooze. Hobbs said in a statement that she’s “delighted to have been given such a unique opportunity to build on my great passion for new music”, which augurs well â€" as does the fact that she’s presenting alone rather than being shoehorned in with a bloke like Radio 2’s uncomfortable bedfellows Jo Whiley and Simon M ayo.

Potential presenter? MIA performs at Bestival 2018. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Potential presenter? MIA performs at Bestival 2018. Photograph: Finbarr Webster/REX/Shutterstock

Otherwise, it’s a classic 6 Music cabinet reshuffle. It speaks to the station’s core contradiction: its remit is to “celebrate the alternative spirit in popular music from the 1960s to the present day” yet its presenters are all firmly establishment. The average age of its 22 DJs is 52. Only one is under 40 â€" Tom Ravenscroft, at 38. For all its praiseworthy emphasis on new music (apparently a key doubling-down of the reshuffle), 6 Music struggles to introduce new presenters because it relies on stable brands â€" lar gely pegged to the very white history of British indie culture â€" rather than minting new stars.

There’s no shortage of potential 6 Music DJs: Jon Hillcock has been filling in on the station for years with one of the most inclusive and inquisitive new music shows going, yet has never progressed to a regular slot. A DJ like 1Xtra’s omnivorous Jamz Supernova would fit well, as would NTS’s Bullion, and they could do more with Huw Stephens than Radio 1 make of him. I’m surprised they’ve not poached the fairly new but eminently adept Matt Wilkinson from Beats 1, nor opened up their cohort of musicians to younger performers: off the top of my head, Lily Allen, Dev Hynes, MIA, Metronomy’s Joe Mount and Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan would all create exciting radio.

Yet the station’s complacency makes a certain sort of sense: the lack of room for new talent indicates the success of 6 Music’s well-established brands. Note that Steve Lamacq, the station’s most popular broadcaster outside of the breakfast show, is the only untouched daytime slot. Rajar figures released in May show that 6 Music now attracts a record 2.53 million weekly listeners aged 15 and over (from 2.34 million in the previous quarter and 2.35 million last year), with all of the daytime shows reaching more than a million listeners weekly for the first time. Why fix what isn’t broken â€" especially when listeners baulk at change? Who can forget the horror at George Lamb’s short-lived show? Attempts at GLR-style quirk (Natasha Desborough on weekend breakfast, Jon Holmes at the weekend) were similarly brief.

Staying put ... Steve Lamacq. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Staying put ... Steve Lamacq. Photograph: BBC/Tim Cuff/BBC

Clearly 6 Music’s remit is one the commercial sector can’t fill: Capital isn’t poaching their talent, nor the lad-centric Radio X, nor TV. Though that speaks as much to the problem as the positives. Like Radio 2, 6 Music is a cultural endpoint with no clear next step for the majority of its older presenters. It trades in comfort and familiarity, new versions of old sounds, rather than pursuing a genuine cultural “alternative spirit”. The “alternative” it celebrates is the mainstream â€" look no further than David Cameron’s festival selfies for proof. In essence, 6 is the old Radio 1 evening slot writ large for people who, due to jobs and kids, can no longer listen to the radio between 7pm and midnight. Sloughing off older presenters would force listeners of a certain age to reckon with their identity â€" and mortality â€" and the fact that what was once their youthful alternative now simply … isn’t.

It’s not ju st a problem for 6 Music but across all of culture â€" it always has been and it always will be. The station’s approach to change means that one day, millennials â€" no longer synonymous with “young people”, as agonising as that might be â€" will also find their youth preserved in aspic on a national radio station, a public service if ever there was one. That too will eventually be sent to the knacker’s yard â€" Stormzy and Mitski alike considered irredeemably washed â€" and death will soon beckon. If there’s any consolation, at this rate the immovable John Humphrys will still be going strong on Radio 4, ensuring an eternal flashpoint for youth’s unbridled rage.

Topics
  • Music
  • Radio industry
  • Lauren Laverne
  • 6 Music
  • BBC
  • comment
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share on Google+
  • Share on WhatsApp
  • Share on Messenger
  • Reuse this content
Source: Google News Music

No comments