Radio 2: Notes on a broadcasting scandal

The replacement of ‘The Radcliffe and Maconie Show’ by Jo Whiley is a blow to music-lovers, says SimonO’Hagan

It's going to be a tough listen, but there's no avoiding it. Tomorrow night, 8 o'clock, the last Radcliffe and Maconie Show on Radio 2. One of those things you so don't want to happen, but you can't not be there when it does.

I imagine they will bow out with their usual wit and self-deprecation. They've got too much pride, professionalism and dignity not to rise above a woeful decision – the shunting-off of a fantastic programme from a prime midweek evening slot on Radio 2 to an afternoon slot on 6 Music.

It is almost four years since Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie were brought together. Within a few months they had built up a devoted following of two million-plus listeners and created something really special.

Radcliffe and Maconie is a show that first and foremost plays great music. But its real appeal lies in the rapport between the presenters, and the knowledge, warmth, enthusiasm and spontaneity that they bring to a programme that's as droll as it is musically enlightening. Nonsense like This Just In – music "news" of the day that's essentially a satire on a certain type of breathless journalese – sits alongside the best of new and old pop, and live sessions from acts as diverse as Vashti Bunyan, Arcade Fire, and Tinariwen. Then there is that most cherished of features – The Chain, "officially the longest listener-generated, thematically-linked sequence of musically-based items ... [pause]... on the radio," to quote Gordon Burns's cod-melodramatic voiceover. It remains to be seen whether The Chain, now up to No. 2,092, will make the transition to 6Music.

But hang on, people will say, the show's not actually coming to an end. It will live on, just in a new home. And in the age of the iPlayer, what's to stop any R&M fans who can't access 6Music during the afternoon catching up with it later? Well, that's true, up to a point. And no doubt many of us will try going down that route. But R&M is a live show. It is of the moment. And while the iPlayer is brilliant for allowing one to catch up on programmes in isolation, it is not a truly radio experience and it never will be. If it were, why would anyone at the BBC need to think very hard about scheduling, which is something they obviously do think very hard about.

Replacing R&M will be old Radio 1 hand Jo Whiley, and I will give her a go. But on past form she is not a true communicator like R&M, and there's no way she can reproduce their magic – for the simple reason that nobody could. Of course Radio 2's loss is 6Music's gain, but R&M's impact is bound to be lessened.

Nobody likes change, but I do wonder why things are allowed to stay largely the same on Radio 4 but Radio 2's schedules can be messed about with. Of course you want innovation and great one-off shows and series, but you don't tamper with the core structure, of which R&M is absolutely a part.

A key difference between now and when R&M began in April 2007 is that Radio 2 doesn't have the same Controller. R&M was a creation of Lesley Douglas, who was a music-lover who cared deeply about the show. Her successor, Bob Shennan, does not seem to be of the same mould. I guess the warning signs were there when, a year ago, Shennan oversaw a reduction in R&M from four nights a week to three, but to do what he is doing now, and not even replace the show with anything very original, is a scandal.

And in case you've forgotten why Lesley Douglas is no longer at Radio 2 and giving R&M the appreciation and protection it deserves, here are two names to remind you – Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. No way could Ms Douglas have been blamed for that disaster, but, as she put it, "It happened on my watch", and so – nobly, but unnecessarily, and even tragically – she resigned.

Brand and Ross – you really have an awful lot to answer for.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn