Was radio ever presented by human beings? Was it ever experimental? Did it ever take chances or dare to be different?
Here`s my problem: I want to tune into a `person` on the radio, playing predominantly the music of today, with maybe a splattering of the unobvious and `different` older stuff that doesn’t get aired. And I want to hear the `person` on the radio do more than make very straight announcements just three times an hour. It would be perfect if segues were limited to no more than two an hour. That’s the kind of radio I want.
I don’t know if it was ever thus, or if my brain has made up a false memory, but I seem to remember radio disc-jockeys caring about the songs they played and interacting with them. I remember feeling like I was listening to a ‘mate’ playing records for me, so I didn’t have to. The bits the ‘mate’ said, the wit, the spur-of-the-moment features and comments, along with his (or her, but rarely was he a her) interaction with the songs all blended together into a ‘show’ that felt nice. It felt good. It felt inclusive. It made me want to keep on listening.
Today of course, such friendly inclusive programming has been removed from radio. The ‘announcers’ (they are no longer disc-jockeys) speak three or four times an hour. They never interact with the songs. The songs just play out one after the after in blocks kept well away from the ‘announcer’. He is just about allowed to speak over the radio station’s designated music bed, and his ‘announcements’ are usually followed by a load of adverts, making sure he doesn’t accidentally touch any of the songs.
This neutering of the radio disc-jockey means that the ‘charm’ or the ‘hook’ of the ‘show’ that once existed has completely gone. Only on BBC Radio 1 can I find hints of it remaining, although these are being eroded every day as more and more blocks of segues intrude.
Maybe, yes, ‘back in the day’, radio disc-jockeys sometimes ‘intruded’ onto some of the songs a little bit too much. And maybe they grew larger than life and overpoweringly full of shite.
But now music radio seems to have gone completely the other way, and stayed stuck in an output that is lonely, disconnected and disjointed compared to ‘back in the day’.
So, back to my search today. There is no radio show, no radio station, no output that plays today’s music and wraps it up with the warm inclusive presentation style I’ve described.
Indeed, to hear a ‘human being’ one has to tune now to ‘talking radio’. Stations such as LBC, BBC Radio 5 Live, and certain output on Liverpool’s Citytalk give us a human being talking with us. Except of course, they are adhering to quite a rigid strict talking format, and they are not allowed to be the ‘warm’ friendly person they once were ‘back in the day’. And certainly, they are not playing songs as well.
Alas, maybe it was all in my mind, but my search for music radio that makes me feel a part of it continues. Until I find it, I’ll just have to put up with the stations that leave me feeling lonely and so very excluded.