Let me start this post by stating that I love BBC Radio 6 Music and there’s no other radio station I’d rather listen to right now. I know I wasn’t happy about the Radcliffe and Maconie show being shifted over from Radio 2 but the way things have worked out, I actually get to listen to the boys more because of their daytime slot so it’s swings and roundabouts.
My happy routine until recently consisted of putting the Shaun Keaveny breakfast show on during, er, breakfast and during the school run, so that Amélie got a good dose of 6 Music. That said, Amélie made the comment once that there was so much talking on the breakfast show, “it should be called 6 Talking, not 6 Music”. Fair point. After dropping Amélie off to school, as soon as I got to the office, 6 Music would be put on for the tail end of the breakfast show before going onto Lauren Laverne’s morning show and then, obviously, onto the main event: Radcliffe & Maconie.
So, give or take a few minutes, from 7am to 4pm, my ears would be happily filled with 6 Music. In fact, the only reason I stopped at 4pm was to give me time to listen more to the artists I had discovered through 6 Music.
But… I don’t know if it’s just my perception but it feels like recently the playlist policy has really taken over so that there’s a limited set of songs that are getting played to death. I used to love 6 Music because I’d get to hear a really eclectic mix of music and now it feels as heavily programmed and mono-culture as commercial radio. There’s a trailer played a lot at the moment, which has Kathy Burke saying she loves 6 Music because you don’t hear the same stuff over and over again. Well, I’m pretty sure that used to be true but it ain’t necessarily so now. There’s certain songs that I found interesting on first listen but I hear them so much now that at best I’m bored with them and at worst, I am actively turning off. I’m certainly not gagging to buy the record when it’s finally available, which can’t be what the artists want, or maybe the royalties from being played so much are actually worth more than the lost sales.
So my old routine of solid 6 Music from 7am to 4pm has been disrupted recently. Right now, I’m listening to 6 Music because of the presenters and not because of the music, and that’s not right. And my old gripe about Radcliffe & Maconie being shifted from Radio 2 to 6 Music still stands. There was a helluva lot more diversity in the music played on the old Radio 2 show, I feel, which is the opposite to what you would expect.
So, to end on a positive, there’s still a lot to love about 6 Music. (And I realise that the weekday evening shows I don’t listen to may be that much less playlisted that I’m really missing out there.)
Stuart Maconie’s other shows – Freak Zone and Freakier Zone – are just brilliant. These really are packed with gems that you would never normally have considered and you feel like you’re getting a musical education along the way. Even the more extreme stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily want to hear again is at least interesting. My favourite Freakier Zone was the one that featured Henrietta Rowlatt talking about video game soundtracks. Sadly it’s not available on iPlayer any more and I neglected to record it so there’s no way of sharing it with you right now.
Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour is another favourite show. In a way, it’s similar to Freak Zone and Freakier Zone in that you get a proper explanation of the record before or after it’s been played, but it’s a bit more mainstream. I often listen to the show as it’s broadcast live on Sunday night and then again every night as my ‘going to sleep’ soundtrack. I never get bored of it. You also get anecdotes, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny ones, from Guy Garvey as well as the odd appearance from Jocelyn, his cat. A cat on a radio show! What’s not to like?
Post title lyric taken from Hot Chip – Over and Over