Coalees' Notes: Pirate of the airwaves: Radio proposals, media initiatives and skives: another week in the art of Gordon Coales

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY: This morning Rory and I had a good deal of fun from a document issued by the National Campaign for the Arts - arts under threat from government neglect, etc. Their slogan is 'ARTS ALERT] Clear the area] Arts Alert] Clear the Area]' We were especially taken with the advice to 'Stress the POSITIVE aspects of the arts'.

Di on the other hand took it all more seriously. She thought it was the kind of campaign we should be doing - 'I do worry that we're not making enough high-profile initiatives.' But I'm hoping to skive off to the country again, continuing my 'feasibility study' of the standing stones of Unton for a few more days, prior to concluding that there is no future in it whatever. I have suggested to Rowena she might like to come too.

TUESDAY: Bang goes my jaunt. There has been a huge fuss today, after a fax was received from Richard Silver. It began, 'I presume we are aware of this', and there followed several pages of press cuttings about the recent bids for London radio frequencies, with mention that he would be in town tomorrow - an intense spate of proprietorial meddling is expected.

Di said: 'It's what I was talking about. This has been around for months, and we have done nothing about it.' I tried to demur, but she went on: 'I promise you, I can read his mind. What we have to do now is to think up a proposal for an arts radio station.' Rory pointed out that the closing date for bids was over a week ago. Di said: 'Exactly. We think up a radio station, and then we think up a very convincing reason why we did not pursue the project. Shouldn't take too long.'

It took most of the day running through possible titles: Arts FM (much too off-putting), London Culture (a bit ethnic, somehow), Festival Radio (my suggestion, too 'Edwardian' apparently), Fiesta FM (favourite for about two hours, until the thought of kitchen towels and condoms became overwhelming), Expressions (vague), Expresso (really nice, but off the point), Expo (nearly), Tingle FM (another of mine), and numerous others before coming back to Arts FM ('Well, that's what it is after all'), provisionally.

Basically: a non-stop mix of high culture and popular entertainment, controversial but accessible, critical but celebratory, serious but fun, with live coverage of arts events as they happen, to appeal to the 25-45 age group. However, very sadly, a target audience survey (entirely fabricated, in great detail) proved negative.

Among other programmes, there was a late-night arts phone-in, to be hosted by me. That aside, it looks a highly plausible package, a triumph for the lap-top, and all carefully back- dated. As Di said at 11.30pm, it's almost a pity we didn't try it for real.

WEDNESDAY: Meeting with Silver after lunch. Di took off very business- like, saying: 'Now, about a radio station, we did look into this quite fully in March. But unfortunately the audience simply wasn't there. But I can show you the plans we did at the time.' Silver said: 'No need, quite agree, you read my mind, don't want to go down that road at all, total waste of time.' We were all rather put out. He was thinking more about our media profile, given the proliferation of new outlets: 'So what's happening on that front?' There was a worrying silence.

Then Di jumped in with: 'Well, what we are doing, at this moment, is producing an immediate response to the National Campaign for the Arts ARTS ALERT] campaign.' Silver asked what form this was taking. Di said: 'Well, as I say, Rory and Gordon are working on it at this moment.' He said he'd pop in again on Friday. He took the radio proposal away with him.

THURSDAY: Another day of creativity. We have produced a searing counter-blast to the NCA's campaign. Rory is quite fanatical when he gets going. 'I hate this awful kind of Martyn Lewis, smiley badge, Save the Rain Forest, poor-little-arts-they're- only-trying-to-help attitude.' We should think about 'what gets the arts off the arts pages and on to the front page'.

Our campaign therefore emphasises the promotion of riots, prosecution and vandalism. The big proposal is that a sign bearing the warning HAZART should be affixed to every theatre, gallery, music venue, etc, giving the arts a real identity on the street, and - as Rory said - 'that essential edge of danger'. Well, it seemed an exciting idea at 1am this morning.

FRIDAY: Silver breezed in, said he wasn't stopping, he just wanted a brief word with me. He asked: 'So, what kind of radio experience d'you have?' I explained I'd been on air a few times in the past, usually trying to mollify outraged public opinion. He said: 'It's a knack isn't it. Now this late- night phone-in idea. I was having a word with a friend of mine in London Pipeline. He likes it. But are you up to it?' I tried to sound enthusiastic. And I feel I could do it, provided it wasn't too late-night and I'd had plenty of rest.

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