So, it’s 10 o’clock at night and you have arrived in Liverpool. How can you use TV and radio to get an idea or two about the area and life as you don’t yet know it?
Of course, you turn to the local media to see what it teaches you.
Telly. That’s a good place to start. Ok, there seems to be a tiny weeny local opt out after the main National news on both ITV and BBC1. This might be full of stuff about Liverpool, and presented by some great people from Liverpool, you muse.
Erm, no. It appears from all the graphics and the accents to be coming from Manchester. Not a hint of a Liverpudlian accent, and not really any Liverpool-centric features or news. So, that’s no good then. Despite being a city important enough to have not one but two Mayors, and not one but two Premier League football teams, Liverpool doesn’t seem to have much space on TV.
Ok, let’s search out the local radio. Almost all the radio stations that can be received are quasi-national networks having nothing to do with Liverpool. There are just three local Liverpool radio stations, although at this time of night they are carrying national newscasts, not providing any local stories.
Juice FM seems to be playing a fair selection of current tunes and the guy on air sounds local. The format, to be fair, is really just generic dance oriented pop with no immediately obvious local bias, but at least it’s coming from Liverpool. Indeed, a stroll down to the touristy Strand Street, inbetween Liverpool’s impressive Albert Docks and Liverpool One areas and carefully screwing of eyes allows anybody to see the DJ at work in the Juice FM studio.
Not a bad start, but the BBC traditionally provide local radio stations. Well, they don’t provide a Radio Liverpool, but a Radio Merseyside. In fairness, this does seem to be quite Liverpool-centric. Tuning into the late show is an education. It appears to be some very old people, and I mean very old, chatting to each other without realising a microphone is on. At this time of night it’s all just reminiscing. There’s nothing about the Liverpool of today. However, the casual listener will learn all about the trams and railways that no longer course through the streets of Liverpool.
Well, mainly the listener will not learn about those things. Most of the time is taken up with the people in the studio not actually remembering anything. There’s a lot of ‘on the tip of my tongue’ and ‘what was that called again?’ or ‘no, I don’t think that’s right’ statements to painfully slow the conversation to a near stop. So, in reality the listener mainly learns all the things that the people in the studio with a combined age of 870 can’t actually recall properly. Maybe this isn’t representative of Liverpool. Well, not Liverpudlians under the age of 75 anyway, and most of them are not actually from Liverpool but the other side of the River Mersey.
To make the listening more painful, the studio has no form of automated compression on for those listening via Digital Radio. The sound levels go up or down depending on who’s speaking. The only way to catch everything is to ‘ride’ the volume control. Bizarre.
The third and final radio station is two radio stations. Radio City and CityTalk after 10 at night are both broadcasting exactly the same programme for no readily apparent reason. Oh yes, the only time the stations are both broadcasting different programming at that time of night is when both of Liverpool’s football teams are playing at the same time. The rest of the time, which is most of the time, both stations are broadcasting the Pete Price show. It’s a sort of a phone-in.
Listening to Pete Price night after night after night seems to indicate that the under 75 face of Liverpool is highly messed up by drugs, racist, homophobic and paranoid. Mentally they seem to be stuck in the 1970s, with plenty to say about how cannabis should be legal, how what they call ‘the bedroom tax’ is wrong and ‘the government’ should be paying all their bills and paying for everything they want on top. Typical conspiracy theories from druggies and junkies fill the air, supplemented by people who tell incomprehensible stories that drag more efficiently than watching paint dry.
These types of callers, along with those who are obviously only there to wind the presenter up, are all allowed to go to air. On a more sensible phone-in station like LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation), these people are ‘dumped’ to allow an actual conversation to take place. Yet, they are the only calls that are broadcast on Radio City. (Oh, and CityTalk)
Anybody listening to this radio programme to try to get a measure of the populous of Liverpool is going to be depressed and reaching for the nearest train ticket back out of the city. Night after night this relentless barrage of stupidity is allowed to go to air. The host doesn’t cut it off because there are no other callers. Instead he employs a ‘routine’ of faux shock and upset because of the quality of the callers, but they are only this quality because anybody sensible refuses to phone-in to this awful confusion of mental illness. The only time he cuts them off is when he has a lady in to do pretend psychic readings. She gets lots of calls from mainly women who believe all the mumbo jumbo about spirits and stuff. Nobody ever gets their actual questions answered, the psychic lady obsesses with telling everybody they are having babies. Sadly, this all helps to demonstrate the backward and underdeveloped nature of Liverpudlian humanity.
Let’s hope the visitor to Liverpool doesn’t pick up the local newspaper and read all about the gunfire between the various gangs. Wouldn’t like them to get the wrong idea about Liverpool.