LBC goes national again

LBC” was the first ever commercial radio station operating in the UK. Well, in London. Indeed, it actually was the ‘London Broadcasting Company‘. Today, after many swaps and changes the ‘LBC‘ name remains (it disappeared during one of its incarnations, but came back when there was a desperate attempt to stop listeners haemorrhaging and somebody came up with the idea of using the LBC name once more) even though it hasn’t been the ‘London Broadcasting Company‘ for an extremely long time.

LBC‘s remit has been talk. It doesn’t play music. You could say the basic format is listener phone-in, although this has become very sanitised since the licence to operate LBC has been in the hands of Global, a radio ‘Borg‘ that seem to own all the main jukebox brands that are currently haemorrhaging listeners across the UK compared to before they were assimilated by the Global Borg.

In a vague attempt to emulate the ‘strapline‘ need that music stations have to be ‘the better music mix‘ or whatever crass mainly meaningless phrase they have to push, somebody came up with “London’s Biggest Conversation” as the LBC strapline. It kinda works.

LBC used to be available around the country via DAB. Listening to where phone-in callers were calling from it was pretty obvious that a fair number were from outside of London, where the station is also available on FM. By the end of 2013, for who knows what reason, all the DAB channels around the country that were carrying LBC fell silent. ‘Tough,’ said a holding message. ‘Try via the internet, you tosser‘, it said, before disappearing forever.

The amount and variety of callers dropped.

Whoops, big mistake, then?

Global Borg hate speech on their radio stations, which is why most of them don’t have much. The songs play and you are unaware that any human is there for most of each hour.

How confusing it must have been for them to end up assimilating an actual radio station dedicated to talking. Then, how confusing to discover that people were actually listening to it from outside the London area. And now they weren’t, and the callers were drying up.

So, to try to rectify the situation, the Global Borg have decided to not only bring LBC back to DAB, but also to relaunch it as a national service, rather than the London centric one it has always been. Global hate local radio and want to be the commercial sector equivalent of the BBC with national only services wherever possible.  Indeed, I’m mystified as to how they didn’t manage to introduce non-stop music on LBC to replace all that dangerous chatter.

However, from February, LBC will be available everywhere via DAB. And, in keeping with the hatred of local radio, they’ve decided to rename LBC from ‘London’s Biggest Conversation‘ to ‘Leading Britain’s Conversation‘. What? Yes, ‘Leading Britain’s Conversation‘.

Imagine being at that brainstorming and mindmapping session! I recall back in 1978 being stuck with the word AMY for a community-access pirate radio station I ran in North London. The man who owned the transmitter fancied somebody called Amy and wouldn’t let it be switched on unless we were Radio Amy. We struggled to make AMY eventually mean ‘Alternative Media for You‘, but we got away with it.

Global Borg is all about playing safe and not taking chances or allowing creativity, sacking anybody who dares show individuality, so can you imagine everybody sitting there looking down at their desk or fingers, avoiding eye contact as the search for a replacement for ‘London’s Biggest Conversation‘ was on? I bet most wished they could jump out of the window, rush across the square and spend the afternoon in M&M World. When whoever came up with ‘Leading Britain’s Conversation‘ and barked out that suggestion to the nodding approval of the greys at the top, you can imagine the sigh of relief.

I guess ‘Little Britain Chatter’ or ‘Live Bitchin’ Conversations’ or ‘Loadsa Bullshit Communication’ all got rejected. ‘Leading Britain’s Conversation‘ it is then.

Just one thing. Editorially, especially at breakfast, LBC does an excellent job of championing things that concern London and Londoners. Does this mean a dumbing down of London orientation? Does this mean that London has now lost its local radio station? This, whilst in keeping with Global Borg policy, could be a very bad mistake.