Old Guard Radio

Is one of the problems with radio in this country, the simple fact that those in charge of it are too old to be in touch with the listeners?

If we carefully examine the listening habits of 97.3% of the guys (it’s always men in charge, women are rarely allowed near the actual controls, by the way) who decide what an entire radio station should sound like, it becomes sadly clear that they hardly ever listen to their own product for entertainment.

Indeed, most will proudly tell you how they were far too busy listening to The Archers than their own brand’s early evening show. They will engage in throbbing discussions about about what other BBC stations are doing, or what they’ve got on the iPod or Spotify playlist, rather than mention commercial radio as the source of entertainment.

In fact, usually they are far too old to listen to music radio suited for anybody under the age of 40, even though they are in charge of a commercial music radio service, er, sorry, I meant ‘brand’.

They have no idea what 1Xtra is beyond a snigger, and think that Radio 1 is not as good as it was ‘back in the day’.  They can tolerate the slower parts of 6Music because it reminds them of the glorious days of a radio station nobody listened to called Greater London Radio.  To be fair, GLR certainly was listened to by meeja people.  Just not any normal people whatsoever.

Radio 2 is, of course, their only understanding of what music radio is.  As the most listened to radio station, and the Chris Evans breakfast leaving all else eating dust, there’s probably a good reason why the guys who run radio spend a lot of time consuming its output and excitedly talking about it in their best fan-boi voices.

Personally, I find it hard to listen to Radio 2.  I don’t like oldies.  Also I don’t understand why the delivery patter has to, generally speaking, be so slow.  Is there something mental that happens to people as the get old?  Firstly, they want to keep hearing the same records over and over again – for 40 years.  Secondly, they want the man on the radio to talk slower and more deliberately than the slick and excited way the man used to talk when the songs were first played 40 years ago.  Why?

Anyway, these gentlemen who run the various commercial radio ‘brands’ never dare to attempt to use their, er, ‘brands’ to emulate or challenge the dominance of Radio 2.  It’s almost as if they consider Radio 2 to be the voice of God, only there to be idolised never replicated, lest they be accused of blasphemy.  Instead of working out how to do it, they prefer to just look on in ore.

Again though, the real issue is that the radio ‘brands’ they manage are not what they listen to for their own entertainment.  They are in charge of stuff, including making up peculiar rules about how their ‘brand’ sounds, that are not compatible with extended listening or inducing any form of true loyalty.

Odd behaviour, innit.  Rarely listening for more than a few snooped minutes to the radio stations they are in charge of.

As they get older and the radio industry shrinks even smaller due to the trend of amalgamating all ‘brands’ into just two or three quasi-regional or national services, the chances of new blood or new ideas actually coming into the commercial radio sector are going to have to wait until death takes those of old guard who dedicate themselves to stagnation rather than BBC-esque innovation.

I think it would be great if just one of them stopped and listened to their own output for 24 hours.  Heck, maybe that might even kill them off!