What is the point of a radio anorak?

I can understand somebody being interested in historical radio broadcasting.  I used to be. Somebody with a hobby that includes trawling the past for recordings and memories of radio stations long gone is fine.  It’s geeky but no different to those interested in old buses or trains.

I guess there are reasonable numbers of old steam train anoraks, in a parallel way to radio broadcasting anoraks, interested in the engines and rolling stock of yesteryear.  Nothing wrong with that.

Well, nothing wrong until steam train anoraks start on with their slagging off of the current engines and rolling stock and make pronouncements about how it’s all gone wrong and it would be a lot better if steam engines ruled the railways again.

Indeed, there are probably some who are convinced that it won’t be long until those running the railway companies have seen the error of their ways and steam trains once again run on every line now annoyingly configured for diesel or electric rolling stock.  These minority steam train anoraks sit there awaiting the ‘second coming’ of the steam train.

Back at radio, there do seem to be a large number sitting awaiting the ‘second coming’ of old fashioned radio.  I don’t know if their spitting venom about modern radio is an exclusive of the ‘second comers’, because I feel it is shared by the radio anoraks who aren’t awaiting the ‘second coming’.

One thing is for sure, and I’m not just talking about the original radio anoraks, with their legs cemented in the offshore radio era, but also the radio anoraks from the late 1980s and 1990s when we used to have a lot more radio programmes being broadcast than now.  Today, fewer radio programmes are needed since the same programmes are broadcast over the many different transmitters that once upon a time each had their own dedicated programming.

The revolution away from plenty of jobs in ‘radio’ has left a lot of them unemployed and sitting and spitting from the sidelines.

Add all these radio anoraks together and you have a fair old force of bodies.  Bodies that are without exception completely out of touch with modern audience needs and radio trends.

Yet, despite being so out of touch, they will make the most ridiculous and loud pronouncements about radio today.

One of my favourite ‘radio anorak fails’ was when Terry Wogan retired from Radio 2 breakfasts to be replaced by millionaire socialist Chris Evans.  The radio anoraks wheeled out their dire predictions for the complete audience failure of Radio 2.  It was the end.  The BBC had made an awful mistake.  Nobody would listen to Chris Evans.

As the first highly increased audience figures were revealed, I laughed out loud at all the excuses and protestations from the radio anoraks.  They just didn’t ‘get’ how this was happening.  They were so sure that ‘everybody’ hated Chris Evans.    

It is a fact that the more radio anoraks ‘hate’ something, the more the ordinary listeners like it. Equally, the more radio anoraks ‘love’ something, the less ordinary listeners will like it, or even bother to listen.

Radio anoraks will proudly listen to radio streams named after long dead real radio stations, but no ordinary listeners bother.  Nearly all radio anoraks will try their hand at ‘doing radio’ and will establish a radio stream that nobody listens to.  They will love and cherish their radio stream that nobody listens to and do their best to sound like a real radio station might have sounded many decades ago.

Radio anoraks have this uncanny ability to not be able to predict what real audiences want or will be attracted to.  Their finger is never on the pulse, despite their preoccupation with saying what’s wrong with ‘radio today’ and how if they were in charge billions of listeners would be hanging on their every word.

Indeed, the beauty of radio anoraks is that they can be used as barometers by looking at the inverse of everything they say.  If they like something, normal people won’t.  If they dislike something, normal people won’t.  That’s how to accurately predict ‘good radio’.

Radio anoraks will spout their venom about DAB (‘Digital Radio’) as a delivery platform.  They much prefer the hiss and flutter of listening via FM, or the muffled audio and high pitched whines of AM.  Bizarrely the ‘AM radio anoraks’ will moan about the bandwidth limitations or mono broadcasts on DAB as if it is in some way inferior to AM broadcasting.

As usual, the radio anoraks are completely out of touch with reality since latest audience research shows that over half the population of the country are tuning in via DAB.  Naturally, of course, they are disputing the figures and making pronouncements just as they did about Chris Evans.

Another broadcaster that radio anoraks doomed to failure was Mark Forrest, the guy who provides the networked early evening show across all BBC local radio.  Radio anoraks told us that nobody would listen, and lamented the loss of the likes of Roger Day in the South East.

Roger Day gets radio anorak adulation just for breathing because he once worked on a pirate radio ship, so therefore he can do nothing wrong.  Oh how the radio anoraks screamed, wailed and wept when he was replaced by Mark Forrest.

Meanwhile – yes, you guessed it – the audience of real listeners increased.  Mark Forrest was being listened to by real people even if radio anoraks would rather eat their own toasted ferrite rods than listen.

History is littered with radio anoraks demonstrating how out of touch with reality they are.  Isn’t it about time they stopped pontificating and making judgement calls about modern things they clearly know nothing about?