Saturday 20 March 2010

What I'll miss if BBC 6 Music disappears

NB these are my own personal views, nothing to do with my employer.

I'm not going to go through the arguments for keeping BBC 6 Music, they have been covered in much detail in many other places, and it probably wouldn't be a good career move to do so here... But I have been thinking about content, and specifically what I'll most miss if 6Music were to disappear completely. My start point is that I see 6Music as an alternative to what's currently of offer - BBC or commercial - so it follows that the programmes that hit home most for me are those that are in very short supply elsewhere.

Firstly, Lauren Laverne. I was one of probably many people who tried to get Lauren onto 6Music for many years through conversations with senior people at the BBC, so was overjoyed when she arrived in late 2009. It's not easy to create a five-day-a-week 3-hours-a-day radio show which still manages to sound genuinely passionate about the music at every turn, and balances the needs of a mid-morning slot with the audience demand for something that doesn't sound too mainstream. But somehow Lauren's show does it. There aren't many daytime shows - in my view - which are of a quality that justify listening to on-demand, but this show is so full of great features, interviews, sessions and Lauren herself that it does. Now that the programme often has chapter points in, you can quickly get to the bits you're most interested in which makes it a whole lot more web-appropriate.

Secondly, Gideon Coe. Gideon has been on 6Music since the start back in 2002. His late night mon-thurs show is terrific. I've often said that Gideon is one of the UK's most skilled interactive presenters; not in a in-your-face "text now" manner, but in a subtle, genuine ability to use audience contributions intelligently. His message board topic - on which he regularly posts - is still one of the best we have. His approach to engaging with the audience is so natural to him that he doesn't need to make a big song and dance about it, which means the show is more two-way than just about any other. But you wouldn't know if you tuned in for 10 minutes - it's too subtle for that. The only downside, imho, is the extended live concert section which is too long for me and should be broken up.

Talking about 6Music programmes you cannot of course not mention Adam and Joe. Saturday morning is a great slot because you have a large potential audience who are not as rushed and busy as they are during the week, but at the same time many stations put on high profile shows at this time so the competition is fierce. But the sheer originality, humour and distinctiveness of Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, combined with a very personal approach to introducing new and interesting music, means that the show cut through the Saturday morning competition and became the stations' most popular slot.

Then there are a bunch of more specialist weekly shows that, combined, sum up the distinctiveness of 6Music for me. Guy Garvey's Sunday night show is required listening. More thoughts on Guy Garvey here. Craig Charles' Saturday evening Funk and Soul show is one of those perfectly scheduled shows that plays a mix of music that could only be curated on 6Music. Stuart Maconie's Sunday afternoon Freak Zone is perhaps the stations most musically unique offering, and truly alternative to any offered on BBC or commercial radio. It is, perhaps, almost the definition of public service popular music broadcasting. Often a challenging listen, sometimes willfully unusual, but you'll always learn something about a range of music commercial radio wouldn't even recognise as music. The same could probably be said of Jarvis Cocker's new Sunday afternoon show, which is shaping up to be another 6Music hit.

Lastly, my favourite part of Steve Lamacq's weekday show, Roundtable. Being old enough to fondly remember the original Roundtable on Radio 1, this is pure joy.

Those are the programmes that I'll miss most if 6Music ceases to exist in 2012.

What did I miss?