English Radio is a Dictatorship

Posted on November 26, 2008 by yankeebean

yankeebeanI don’t want to incite a riot or anything.  Nobody should go and try to overthrow the BBC or anything after this post.  But, MAN, I miss American radio.  For several reasons…

  1. Variety.  I swear to God, in America, if I wanted to listen to a radio station for vegetarian people with brown hair, freckles and a terets syndrome I could find one.  But in England it’s Radio 1, 2, 3, or 4.  Aka – “mainstream-pop-cheese”, “almost-tolerable-pop-fluff”, “utter-randomness”, or “all-talking”.
  2. I’m Lactose Intolerant.  I Don’t like too much cheese.  And European music and FAR cheesier than what you get in the States.  You get used to it, though (unfortunately).
  3. Obnioxious DJ’s.  This is kinda the same in America though.  Although the stations I listened to back home all had cool quirky DJ’s that managed not to yell, make prank calls or talk about genitalia all the time…
  4. The ten-song-playlist.  The WHOLE POINT of listening to the radio is to hear new stuff… but you only hear the same 10 flippin songs played in a loop (especially BBC 1).  Why do they even PAY the DJ’s?  They should just build a cyborg that spews one of 15 cliches inbetween tunes.  I get that there are ‘hits’, and they have to play certain songs that suck your will to live like “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt (oh crap… it’s gonna be stuck in my head now just from typing the title).  But surely the DJ’s should try and re-balance their music-karma by playing some Sufjan Stevens or Elbow or Imogen Heap or something…

Actually, I’m pretty fond of Radio 4, but since all this ‘credit crunch’ malarky, I can’t stomach it for long.  And on warm sunny days when I have the day off and I’m feeling young-and-fancy-free, sometimes I’ll listen to Radio 2.  But that’s not often since this is Yorkshire and it’s only sunny occassionally between the hours of 7 and 10am in August and some of September.

OH, how I long for the days I could just turn the radio on while I’m doing the dishes and sometimes hear a song that totally grabs me.  And now when I go back to America, none of the music sounds familiar and I feel like an outsider in my own country.

Who knew a simple radio station could even make you feel like you’re not from Yorkshire?  Weird…

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Michelle March 31, 2010 at 12:40 am

    American radio in the state where I live, and in the states I’ve driven through recently, is really awful (from my point of view, anyway). Note that I don’t have digital radio – just the old-fashioned kind.

    This seems to be the selection: Five choices of country music stations, two choices of “classic rock” (and this is music that was considered “classic” rock even when I was a teenager in the late 70s and early 80s!), one National Public Radio/classical music station (always kinda static-y), a couple of talk radio stations, a couple of stations that specialize in the worst top 40 music from the 80s (Huey Lewis and the News, Hall and Oates), and a station that plays “oldies” from the 50s and early 60s. And if you are lucky when you are driving, when you are within 10 miles of a college town, you will get some “alternative” music on the little campus/town station, with fuzzy reception. Outside of the major cities and the cooler college towns, and apart from digital radio, this is what most people in the middle of the US have to choose from on the radio.

    Tip — although the UK tv websites (like BBC, Channel 4, etc.) block all video transmission outside the country, they do allow people in other countries to access all the BBC radio stations online – both the live streams and thousands of taped broadcasts.

    [I was looking through the Radio 4 archives and found a taped hour-long documentary from last year, along with a dedicated webpage with a lot of photos, that was about my rust-belt hometown in the US! My town is in such bad shape that the BBC apparently sent a documentary team over here to profile some of the down-and-out families. I had no idea that they were making this documentary here, while I was here. It wasn't in the paper or anything.]

  2. Steve Shawcross July 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    You’re most welcome. Spotify is a “snap crackle and poptastic” invention, as Smashie & Nicey would have it ;-)

    I can see where you’re coming from, now you’ve ‘come out’ as music snob, fair enough ;-)

    I would say Radio 2 is the best for musos here; it has an electic range, with more specialised documentaries in the evening.

    Speaking of love, I love your blogs here!

  3. yankeebean July 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for the in-depth look, Shaw-meister :)

    I forgot to pre-empt this post by stating that I am a HUGE music snob and so any and of my muso-musings should be taken with a big ol’ grain of salt (and maybe even a margherita…)

    Since all news events no longer centre around the credit crunch I’m happily back on to Radio 4 and I’ve also started streaming Los Angeles Public Radio on my ‘puter.

    And how could I forget to mention the AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND AMAZING AND WONDERFUL invention that is Spotify.

    I love you Spotify… lovelovelove…

    Sorry for the tangent :)

  4. Steve Shawcross July 29, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I do agree about commercial radio in the UK, they can be repetitive. Sadly most stations are owned by larger companies… GWR, Heart, Galaxy and so on

    The commercial radio scene is very cut-throat in the UK, and specialised commercial stations seldom survive– simply because they can’t attract the listeners (thus advertising revenue) to survive– or they get swallowed up by said larger companies.

    There are some community radios over the net, but they only run for limited periods for the stated reasons.

    Whilst I appreciate that specialised stations are popular in the USA, people prefer the broader scope of the BBC stations in the UK. Simply because the British like to be informed about the world at large (beyond their own circles), as well as entertained. The horrifying alternative is “Smashie and Nicey”! [LOL]

    Speaking of the BBC: Don’t forget that BBC radio is paid for by Licence Fee payers, so it is obliged to cater for a wide audience as possible. In the USA, you don’t have “public service broadcasting” in the way we do in the UK, so BBC radio’s purpose may be lost on you (without wanting to sound patronising).

    The definition of PSB is to reflect /support cultural activity in the UK. I think BBC local and national radio does this very well, and Ofcom ensures that standards are maintained.

    Radio 2 receives 10 million listeners for Terry Wogan’s breakfast show, highest rating radio show in the country; around the same viewing figures for Coronation Street– so BBC radio must doing something right!

    Interestingly many of my American friends enjoy listening to BBC radio over the net: They like the witty persiflage, eclectic music and lack of ads. Horses for course, I suppose :-)

    If you dislike aspects of BBC radio, there are regional audience panels you can actually join to express your views on BBC broadcast provision– we pay for the BBC after all!

    A guide to the main BBC radio sations:

    Radio 1= All modern music, ostensibly aimed at <35 age. range.

    Radio 2= The best BBC radio station, a large range of music and good music documentaries at night. "The almost tolerable pop stuff" played on Radio 2, were/are top chart hits here– you may not realise this!

    Radio 3= Classical/opera

    Radio 4= Talk-based, highbrow. Plays and current affairs typically.

    Radio 5= Mostly sports coverage, some populist debate and varied music.

    BBC Local Radio= Mostly a cross between R2 and R4, tailored for your local area.

    There's one huge advantage of BBC radio, you've got to admit– no adverts!

  5. peacefulyorkshire December 5, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I usually stream radio when I am at home, but when I am driving to work its Galaxy Fm, Chavtastic radio, or the usual BBC stations…. I usually just take my cds…. sigh

  6. notfromaroundhere November 28, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    What about internet streaming radio? You can get most of the US stations these days.

  7. Iota November 27, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Aren’t there any good independent stations left? There used to be loads but perhaps they’ve all disappeared.

  8. pacificyorkshirebird November 26, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Sadly, I listen to very little radio here. My radio time was a sacred driving activity that I have lost since selling my little car to move here.

    Perhaps I’m not missing much?

  9. peacefulyorkshire November 26, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    have you heard anyone ask you, are you more radio 1 or 2?
    I thought that was odd at first. But now I totally get it.

    Also, depending on what BBC radio station you listen to determines your high street shopping tastes. I have come up with this sample list– based on their target audiences ;)

    Radio 1 — New Look, Ms. Selfridge’s, H &M, (maybe Oasis)
    Radio 2– Debenhams, Next, Monsoon, Clark’s
    Radio 3- M&S, Hobbs, Laura Ashley, John Lewis
    Radio 4 — yeah, not sure about that one —??
    Radio 6 (on digital) – Joy, Cath Kidson, Urban Outfitters, Whistles
    Radio 7- used clothing stores because they’re too dramatic for the rest…

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