If you were to begin an article with the words, “I love cancer!”, I would expect you to be on the end of a sectioning order by the time you had finished the word cancer. We all hate cancer, don’t we? We all know someone who has been cruelly struck down with this most awful of diseases. Today, I was shocked to read that the BBC DJ Mark Radcliffe is the latest victim.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I love Radcliffe. I also love his partner in crime Stuart Maconie who together, with their wonderful Radcliffe and Maconie show on BBC 6 Music, make my life better. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they educate me, they make me think, they make me laugh. And when I read that Radcliffe was ill, I got very selfish. He’s got to get better because I want to listen to his voice on the radio again.
Of course, it’s not that simple or crass. I want the great man to recover from his illness for himself, his family and his friends. Us listeners come way down the list, although in the highly unlikely event he reads this blog, he must surely know that we regard him almost as a friend. Only radio can do this.
The best radio DJs and presenters make us feel we are friends. They make us think they are broadcasting only to us. We might never have met them, but we trust them. In Radcliffe and Maconie, we have two brilliant DJs with an unbeatable knowledge of many genres of music. Better still, they bring new music to us. There is a tendency, played out on pretty well all commercial music stations, to play only the old songs. This encourages the listener to play safe, to watch the X Factor instead of Later with Jools Holland. It feeds our never ending desire for nostalgia, yesterday’s sepia-tinged world that in all likelihood never really existed. Whilst we should never forget our history, the present and the future are surely every bit as important.
Radcliffe takes a break for his tongue and lymph nodes to be rendered cancer-free. He tweeted that the cancer had been caught early and the prospects of a full recovery are very good. If that means I will have three months of Radcliffe and Maconie without Radcliffe, the far bigger picture in which Radcliffe returns to full health and fitness is infinitely more important.
Get on with that treatment, Mark. Your country needs you, but possibly not as much as I do.