In terms of my radio listening habits, the news that Global Media is axing local breakfast shows at three of its major stations, Heart, Smooth and Capital, is of no interest to me. I think I would rather be deaf than have to listen to Ed, Troy and Paulina over my Corn Flakes. I would rather be dead, I think, than have to listen to some of the ghastly networked daytime schedule in which Toby Anstis – remember him? – is the star performer. Hour upon hour of groom, generic ‘pop’ music, laced with endless competitions to win a shedload of money and advertisements. But is getting rid of local breakfast radio A Good Thing? No, it isn’t.
Commercial radio has rarely bothered to compete with BBC local radio stations. I am assuming that there’s not enough money in it. The BBC is not bothered about losing money because its income comes – quite rightly – from the license fee. For profit radio stations do not have that luxury. Having said that, it would be nice if the BBC did make an effort to give local people the opportunity to listen to something a bit better.
Locally, BBC Bristol serves, to all intents and purposes, local football supporters (very well, actually) and pensioners. The daytime schedules are as comfortable as one of Val Doonican’s sweaters (ask your grandparents who he is, kids). It’s as challenging intellectually as the front page of the Sun. And the music – well, if you are under 60, you will do well to recognise anything that’s being played. If the BBC is to supposed to educate, inform and entertain, I wonder why Radio Bristol appears to be exempt from Lord Reith’s ideals?
At least, Heart Radio’s breakfast show was there if you were contemplating what life might be like after a frontal lobotomy, providing something of an alternative to the smug, little listened to complacent fare on the BBC. However, unless your idea of fun in the morning was listening to maniacal feigned laughter and double entendres from some Z list broadcasters accompanied by music that would be rejected as background muzak in the tackiest shopping mall on earth you would probably cast an ear elsewhere. Soon, there won’t even be that.
Local radio is now on life support and it’s a great shame. Whether it’s because people have lost interest in what’s happening in their local community or because the quality of programming is so dire, only experts will know. I think it could be a little of both, especially with younger people listening more to podcasts than actual radio shows.
I am not sorry that the likes of Heart are getting shot of their local output. However, I am sorry there is no longer a place on the wireless for people of all ages to hear about their community. Global media is getting less global by the year.