The Third Leader: Classical conundrum

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The Independent Online

Tap, tap. Radio 3, we note, has recorded its lowest audiences since Rajar figures began in 1992. A cacophony arises in which various individual parts can be discerned featuring various well-known phrases including "new schedule", "dumbing down", "outdated elitism", "needs sexing up", "never been the same since they changed it from The Third Programme", "what they need is more of that lovely relaxing Classic FM stuff" and "Don't panic!".

Being but an occasional dipper, I am not really qualified to lament, harrumph, grimace stoically or adopt a lofty disdain. Nor is it my place to point out the contradiction between a measurably and increasingly well-educated population with a measurably decreasing interest in our most intellectual broadcasting outlet. Interesting ideas slightly outside the envelope of studio and hall for rectifying the position are a different kettle drum. Some, for example, might feel that celebrity endorsement as a tool has been over used. I invite them to consider the effect of Mr Roy Keane announcing that he had banned his players from listening to Radio 3.

More broadly, while I agree that the pop glamorisation of classical artistes has not been a success, there is one niche that has not so far been exploited. Stand by for sightings of Sir Edward Elgar in Malvern, and Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears in Morrisons.

Again, following a precedent that worked for Radio 2, how about giving a Radio 3 slot to Mr Jonathan Ross? Imagine the anticipation for his announcements of works by such as Ravel, Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov. Finally, if this crisis worsens, there is always the nuclear option: Charlotte Church.

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