To the controller of Radio 1: forget trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Give us instead a real alternative to airwaves filled with dross

Dear Matthew Bannister
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Have you lost it completely? Over the past 18 months I've been listening to your efforts to reverse the decline in Radio 1's audience. At first it seemed to be going well: Emma Freud's lunchtime spot and Simon Armitage and other poets turning up on Mark Radcliffe's night-time show were an alternative to the banality that can be found all over the frequencies.

Lately it's all gone wrong. I'm not going to defend the tired old jocks whom you sacked when you arrived,but your replacement for Dave Lee Travis was nothing more than a swap of one hirsute anachronism for another. Danny Baker was touted as the saviour of Radio 1, buthe has been responsible for turning off more British radios than Lord Haw Haw.

His current holiday could have been the perfect opportunity to try out new talent, someone who might have brought back some of the listeners lost to independent local stations; instead, Danny Kelly, the editor of Q magazine, has taken over the Danny Baker show. This man is a Baker look- and sound-alike, a cheery, chirpy Cockney who even has the same "sense of humour" that the Daz salesman does, God help us: "Tell us about any strange car crashes you've had, any celebrities you've knocked over," was his opening gambit. "It's going to be great," he kept repeating, more a mantra than a promise.

Cloning at Radio 1 seems to be the thing these days. The recent arrival Clive Warren does a perfect impression of Mark Goodier. They both outdo Mike Smith in the blandness league, but it is their curious intonation and timing that are uncanny. The proliferation of these sound-the-sames is due either to a lack of imagination on your part or a brilliant piece of fiscal planning - save on salaries by paying Rory Bremner to do all the shows. There's only one flaw in this theory: even Bremner could not have dreamt up Lynn Parsons. I realised Radio 1 was finished the day I heard a competition on her show in which she asked the caller what song was playing when the guy in Reservoir Dogs cut off the policeman's ear. "Yes, that's right, `Stuck in the Middle With You'. Now go on, sing it to us, you've got to sing it to win the prize!" Quality radio?Parsonscan now be found sometime around 4am, which has to be one of your more inspired moves.

There are some glimmers of hope. Kevin Greening has an originality and subtlety not seen since the days before Nicky Campbell lost the script, and Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq play indie music while managing to avoid the usually obligatory pretentiousness that vendors of the hippest sounds display.

If you want the audience figures up, forget the lowest common denominator and do what you said you would when you started out. Offer an alternative to the dross, don't try to outdo it, otherwise Private Eye's name for your station - "Radio one listener" - will be spot on. But that listener won't be me, at least it won't be if Danny Baker (or is it Danny Kelly?) is still there on Saturday mornings.

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