Earlier this year, digital radio station BBC 6 music was under threat of closure. There was a hugely successful campaign to save it – here is my blog post pleading the case to save the station. Full text is below.
It’s the last day to save BBC 6music
Right now I’m listening to a live session on 6music by a band called Black Carrot. Cerys Matthews (she of the super sexy super girly lilting welsh voice – oh and she used to be in Catatonia) is telling me that this is the loudest band that she’s ever heard in session in the 6 music studios. Which is saying something from a radio station that has live music pretty much every day of the week, and has hosted sessions from The Cribs, PJ Harvey, Editors,Idlewild, Cut Copy, Manic Street Preachers, Spinnerette & Yo! Majesty. Of course there are lots of quieter bands on the 6 music session archive, lots of which you’ll have heard of, but lots of which you won’t. Which is quite nice I think.
I should probably mention all this is going on before lunch on a Sunday, not exactly prime time for going to the effort of getting a band in to interview them and setting up their kit for a few live tracks. But that’s the beauty of 6 music (ok, one of its many beauties), is that it doesn’t matter what time of day it is, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, it doesn’t matter what commercial pressures or audience figures might be – they’ll go to any lengths to bring you, the listener (and licence fee payer), music that instils passion, intrigue and joy. In fact this is precisely the reason Cerys is bringing us Black Carrot this morning, because the blurb on the back of their CD (something to do with new-wave krautrock jazz) just makes you want to stick it in the CD player and find out more. I think that’s a reasoning hard to disagree with really, and I love that that the (QUOTE) “unique way the BBC is funded” (UNQUOTE) allows unconventional shit like this to happen, and for it to find my eardrums.
As you probably know by now, the BBC wants to axe 6 music and tag the programming onto whatever radio 2 can’t be bothered dedicating to their reasonable, but essentially MOR, output. There has been huge outcry from 6 music listeners, 2 huge protests have been organised outside Broadcasting House, and the listening figures have nearly doubled (!!) in the last 3 months to over 1 million. All this activity seems to contradict the official line from Auntie that 6 music is unpopular and caters for a quirky, unimportant minority, and that to maintain the current programming style, 6 music would have to keep its listenership small, therefore rendering it forever and essentially unviable, stuck in the world of catch 22.
But I think the Beeb underestimates its licence fee payers (want proof? “Over the Rainbow“. FFS, case closed). I’ve not heard the 6music content change since the listener increase thankyou very much, and I’m certain that the station’s new listeners have found it and stayed precisely because of its passionate and diverse programming. Well, why else would you stay if you didn’t like it?
I wasn’t able to attend the last save 6 protest yesterday (the Independent on Sunday was though, as were the @love6music crew, who both have coverage online now), but I did make it to the first one back in March, which attracted around 500 people to the forecourt outside Broadcasting House, every single one passionate about the programming the the BBC provides on 6music, and the voice that 6music gives genuine music lovers in a world clogged up with commercialism, advertising, powerful A&R guys, the “yoof market” and er – Simon Cowell.
Forfolkssake have done a cracking report from that 1st protest with soundbites from protesters explaining exactly why 6music is so important – a varied but highly relevant collection of comments I think you’ll agree. The UK has a gem of a radio station, the envy of music communities worldwide. Where else can you hear music that’s new to you every 3rd or 4th song? And that’s not just new releases on the record pluggers’ lists, it’s independently released stuff, classics you might not ever have got round to investigating, older stuff that was obscure at the time (and still is now), songs from a genre that you don’t normally listen to – all of it chosen carefully by presenters with a real understanding of and joy for music.
Yesterday’s protest was the biggest yet, but 6music is still not safe, and may be in more danger than ever following the result of the general election. The protests’ aims have been to raise awareness of the station, show what it means to have a station with so much genuine enthusiasm for musical diversity in the UK, and, most importantly, encourage people to complete the BBC Trust’s consultation survey at www.bbc6music.info. Longwinded but reasonably straightforward, this consultation survey is the only route of complaint that the BBC have said they will take into account. BUT it closes on the 25th May. Today is 23rd May, so you need to get in quick if you haven’t already (assuming you do want to save it but my guess is you wouldn’t still be reading here if you were all about vocoder-ed commercial pop). Don’t forget to tell your friends!
If you still aren’t sure whether 6 music is worth all the fuss, you can either just ruddy well give it a listen, or if you prefer a visual approach you can see just how diverse and independent 6 music is here by comparing its output with some of its competitors (from the fascinating comparemyradio.com):
None of the above play a greater variety of tracks than 6 music. Only Xfm London plays more than 30% of the same tracks as 6 music, and that’s not a national station – plus just look at their teeny tiny playlist!
6 music gives its listeners as well as artists a voice and that’s precisely why it’s part of the BBC’s licence-fee-based broadcasting remit. Personally I love 6 music, and I don’t like being told that my tastes aren’t important, so I’ve completed the survey. If you feel the same, you know what to do. It looks like this: www.bbc6music.info
Some lovely links:
Listen to BBC 6Music online
Love6music.com Click the top menu for latest news, articles, opinions and more
Follow @Love6Music on Twitter
Save 6 Music Campaign on ForFolksSake. Letters, videos & inspiration
Stop the Cuts Petition from 38 degrees
AND OF COURSE, THE BBC TRUST CONSULTATION SURVEY