Less chat, more music

Matthew Bannister complained on a recent edition of Radio 4's Feedback that his station only seemed to attract critical attention when trying something new. This, he felt, was unfair, because pop radio requires a sense of familiarity, and of continuity, to be heard at its best. His critics needed to try to be more like ordinary listeners, which meant tuning in more than once.

Anyone tuning in for the first time since last year's purge of its most familiar voices would find that nothing much has changed, except that some of the new voices might now sound vaguely familiar. This means, by Bannister's criteria, that his new schedule should be working. But it isn't. Anyone, regular listeners included, who has tuned in to Radio 1 will have noticed that its output remains, after six months, erratic, confusing and poorly presented.

Playing records on the radio may not require a wide range of skills, but it does require enthusiasm and fluency. Emma Freud, at lunchtimes, sounds no more comfortable as a DJ than she did six months ago. And the schedule seems less stable than once it was. It is perhaps a sign of getting old, but, like England fast bowlers, Radio 1 DJs appear to be more often ill and to need more holidays than ever they did. It may only seem as if Peter Powell was on the radio every teatime during the early Eighties, and Simon Bates every morning since the dawn of time, but the familiarity by which Bannister sets such store would be helped if his presenters were not so often presenting each other's shows.

Nevertheless, Radio 1 still has some excellent DJs. Nicky Campbell, who hosts the drivetime show, is sharp, knowledgeable and seems to like the music. But the station's new ethos also requires him to intersperse his programmes with newsy, speech-based features.

On its own, a recent interview with a hospital administrator about baby-tagging could have come equally well from Radio 5 Live or Anderson Country. Conducted by Campbell, it is a profligate waste of talent. As a conventional DJ, he is spontaneously funny, but now he has to read from often badly-written scripts. When talking about music he can be cruel and incisive, but to be cruel about baby-tagging is to sound flippant, to be incisive dull.

The station should follow the example of another BBC institution in seemingly terminal decline, Top of the Pops, which has been rescued by a former Radio 1 producer, Ric Blaxill. Despite being if anything more vulnerable than Radio 1 to the recent vagaries of the charts, Top of the Pops has been revitalised by a tightening up of its format, and by pandering to its audience's memory of the show as once it was. No matter how awful the music, the secret is to pretend nothing has changed.

On the whole, fans of pop music will take just about anything if it is properly packaged, and even those who retain a semblance of discrimination will easily be cheered up by a little well-placed irony. The new Top of the Pops plays it straight and manages to seem gently humorous in the process. Radio 1, which no longer needs to emphasise its public service credentials, should try a little of the same.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower