In the US, the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing radio hate mob make on-air anger de rigueur, but over here we tend to be more restrained. Our godfather of the radio rant is Dave Lee Travis, the Hairy Cornflake famously resigning from Radio 1 in the middle of his Sunday-morning show in the 1990s, but in measured tones. The godson must be Chris Moyles, who on his breakfast show last year went half an hour without playing a record, complaining instead about not having been paid. "It's a huge lack of respect and a massive FU to me," he whined.
I was shocked to discover he was paid at all: being unable to listen to him for more than 30 seconds without wanting to puncture my own ear-drums with a rusty nail, the thought of 30 minutes in his uninterrupted company is just too much to bear.
The spiritual home of radio spleen is the phone-in, and Jonathan from Swansea entered the ranters' pantheon last weekend when he hinted at a certain dissatisfaction with the work of talkSPORT's Matt Forde. "We don't like you, we don't want you, you're the worst presenter on radio ever," was his opening gambit. "You are a talentless liar, a shameless, sycophantic sell-out with a jelly spine and a mush mind."
Forde yelped with affronted laughter, but to his credit let Jonathan carry on for another seven minutes. He was accused of hating white people, Jonathan's argument culminating in the rather splendid: "You're the reason we had the riots!" Another yelp from Forde: "I was in Scotland!"
Undeterred, Jonathan confirmed his prodigious talent for insults, following up: "You hypocritical, New Labour, Adolf Blair-loving hippy" in the next breath with "You Nazi-faced moron". Forde wondered how he could be both: "Oh, Nazis are all bloody hippies, anyway," Jonathan told him, mystifyingly.
I felt a bit like Jonathan this week when, at half past midnight on Wednesday, Late Junction was rudely interrupted by the saccharine theme tune to Through the Night, which is supposed to start at 1am, not 12.30. I stood in the middle of the kitchen, appalled and outraged. If there'd been a camera it would have been one of those shots that whirls around me as my world falls apart. I appreciate that some people may see this as an over-reaction. It transpires that LJ is being cut by half an hour because the Radio 3 breakfast programme is starting earlier, so everything gets pushed back, and one of the jewels in the Radio 3 crown loses 25 per cent of its lustre.
It's foolish and short-sighted; Late Junction is precisely the sort of show that prevents Radio 3 from becoming Classic FM. I've nothing against its commercial counterpart, but 3's remit is so much wider: where else will you find Ligeti giving way to sacred music from the Maghreb followed by Finnish electronica and fiddle-playing from Northumberland? Max Reinhardt, Fiona Talkington et al are the perfect late-night company, and cutting half an hour from LJ feels like the thin end of the wedge. The BBC is not here to play safe; it needs to be out on a limb sometimes, and LJ is one of the corporation's glories. Take heed, programmers. Perhaps I should enlist Jonathan's help. He'd sort 'em out.Reuse content