I am an avid radio listener. In my dotage, I have become hooked on Radio Two, as well as BBC Radio Five Live and, increasingly, BBC Six Music. And I listen to more radio than I watch TV.
Two of the three are music stations. Radio Two is for the 30-somethings upwards, Six Music, I would say, is aimed at a wide, eclectic mix of listeners. When I am not waking up to Nicky Campbell (so to speak), I am waking up to Chris Evans. I am Popmastering with Ken Bruce before I take a break and come back to Jo Whiley (and who wouldn’t, he said, lapsing into casual sexism). In between, I will take in Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie and Steve Lamacq. But there’s something, someone, missing: Danny Baker.
Danny’s Saturday morning show on Radio Five Live is simply one of the best shows on the radio. It’s always innovative, it’s very funny, it can get edgy. With added Pat Nevin today, I found the show utterly riveting. The Sausage Sandwich game, where someone, usually a sports personality, reveals whether to accompany the sandwich they would have brown sauce, red sauce or not sauce at all. (Today it was Mister Barry Hayles who has, I can reveal, brown sauce!)
He interviews people too, often top musicians, and I always learn something new. Today it was Paul Carrack who, it transpired, has appeared on countless classic records including Roxy Music and is friends with Timothy B Schmit.
Baker’s knowledge of music is simply phenomenal. He has an extensive knowledge across huge genres with a boundless, relentless enthusiasm. So why is he not on Radio 2 or 6 Music?
If I became god, or the head of BBC radio (the same thing, I guess), I would have him on both but particularly on Radio 2. As the daytime schedule is currently settled and highly popular, I wouldn’t mess with the formula but I would certainly add Baker to the mix, whether through a 10.00 pm show at least once a week, Saturday evening or – and this is my main preference – the Saturday morning show currently hosted by Graham Norton. Norton, like Baker, is an acquired taste but not one that I have acquired (rather the reverse).
I am the last person to criticise BBC Radio for what they do. There really is something for everything at some point of the day and not one commercial station gives us anything close to its quality or choice. It’s what they don’t do that bothers me.
If there is no room for Danny Baker on THE mainstream music station in the UK, there is something incredibly wrong. If he rubs some people up the wrong way, well there’s always the off switch or a host of alternative stations. But a brilliant broadcaster still at the very top of his game with all that talent and knowledge – well, it’s criminal not to use it.