Why is Tony Blackburn the only music radio presenter actually ‘jocking’ the songs being played? Why is there nobody else doing this style of radio?
There are two things that Tony does that beautifully stitch together the patchwork of songs into a smooth a welcoming blanket. The first is that he doesn’t ‘segue’. All too often, radio stations allow songs to just play one after the other, without any interaction from the presenter. Tony usually talks right up to the when the vocals start, bouncing along with the intro music on every song playing, he doesn’t just let the songs ‘segue’.
If the whole of a radio station’s output is a lovely patchwork quilt, the radio ‘segue’ leaves the different ‘patches’, the songs, unattached, ‘un-stitched’ to each other.
This lack of connectivity and continuity results in jolts and jars for the listener. Plus, of course, listeners feel lonely and cheated on. I mean, heck, they’ve put the radio on as opposed to just putting on their iPod or a streaming service switched to ‘shuffle’, haven’t they? So, in return for making their choice the radio, what do they get? The radio station imitating their iPod. But with long annoying advert breaks. And so, therefore, a reminder that the streaming service or iPod doesn’t have long annoying advert breaks, making it far more attractive than the radio station.
Why would a music radio station, capable of being so much more to the listener, just spend its time trying to alienate them? But, bizarrely, it’s what they do. Well, except when Tony Blackburn is in the studio.
You see, Tony actually communicates with his listeners inbetween the songs, passing on information or generally making them feel welcome. That’s a ‘welcome’ feeling that a cold iPod or a streaming service can’t ever replicate.
The second thing Tony does is actually interact with the songs themselves. Again, nobody, absolutely nobody else playing songs on the radio interacts with the songs. It’s like they are scared of them. Tony will unobtrusively say things like “So Otis, where are you right now?” and straight away the Otis Redding song vocals will start in reply, “Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun….”. Yes, when described coldly, it seems a bit ‘whatevah’, but it actually works really well, sounds really good, and of course, he doesn’t do this to every song. That would be tedious! The art of radio presentation should be to be unpredictable, constantly changing the pattern.
Actually my favourite interaction that I heard once was when he was introducing ‘Little by Little’ by Dusty Springfield. It went something along the lines of, “I’m so confused, there are so many supermarkets these days. I mean there’s, Asda, Tescos, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, and even – ” Then in comes the song lyrics “Lydl by Lydl by Lydl…” of course. See? Fun innit!
Music radio should be fun.
Not just fun. It’s stitching the songs together, being part of them rather than being separated, distant, remote and aloof. It’s giving the listener a feeling of human contact.
Judging by Tony’s audience figures, this is the radio presentation that listeners actually want.
So, why isn’t it being done by anybody else?