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RADIO WAN

28-09-2006

Why bother having a national music station funded by a poll tax when it plays the same bland crap as the commercial stations, even during off-peak listening hours. That, my friends, is the gist of Steve Beuachampe's timely attack on the nation's least favourite.

In new music they do not trust....this week's changes to Radio 1's evening schedules amount to a regressive step in the station's much vaunted commitment to supporting new and often challenging music.

A raft of interesting shows have been lost completely: among them, One World - a showcase for experimental forms of music; Lamacq Live - the estimable Steve Lamacq's essential four our weekly guide to the indie scene; and The Breezeblock, Mary Anne Hobbs' hardcore experimental bleeps and beats.

The likes of Giles Peterson's Worldwide and the Huw Stephens'/Ras Kwame's/Rob Da Bank's One Music shows, (essentially the successors to John Peel), have been moved even later into the night, with none of them even starting before midnight.

Lamacq has been shoddily treated by the station before, this knowledgeable and enthusiastic presenter having been cut from four nights per week to just one a couple of years ago. Now scaled back to a single, inadequate one hour slot, the paring down has seen the loss of both the weekly 45-50 minute live concert slot and thirty minute documentary feature.

Live music now appears to be catered for by Jo Whiley's 60 minute show, where we get selected highlights of a gig (a mere four or five songs!) plus a rush through of other 'live' news and information. It's not Whiley's fault (and hey, she is a bit of a fox) but she can no more do justice to her portfolio than Lamacq in the time allowed.

The changes seem in no small part to be necessitated by the introduction of a two hour (10pm-Midnight) show for Colin Murray. Now Murray is probably a perfectly decent and genuine guy, but his show is frankly a waste of valuable and limited air time. Essentially a vehicle for Murray to play his favourite music from the last 10-15 years, talk about anything and nothing, run a competition, put in the odd joke item etc. Fine for 3pm in the afternoon, but the antithesis of what night time Radio One should be about.

At a time when the range and diversity of music available throughout the world has never been greater, our publicly funded broadcaster should be providing challenging, innovative programming all night every night, but especially in the 7pm - midnight hours. The new schedule is compressed and fragmented, with the best stuff on way too late for most folk. True, if you've got broadband you can always listen again, but then again, you could just not bother and stream Resonance FM instead, where a thirty minute 'homage' to 1950s Mexican Banjo music is about as commercial as it gets.

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