The Snow In The Summer or So-So


Wed 05 Jul 2006

Radio 1 - an update

After last Friday's botched launch, details of the new Radio One Listener schedule have finally dribbled out. Steve Lurpack will host a one-hour show each week, and after twelve years off, there's a return for the Sunday night request show - albeit after the tedious Dance Anthems. Here's the line-up:


7pm CAUTION: Zane Lower (runs Mo-We)
9pm Steve Lurpack
10pm Colin Murraymint (Mo-Th)
12am Rock Show
2am Punk Show - Mike Davies

Tuesday - As Monday except

9pm Rev Tim Westwood
12am Asian Beats - Bobby and Nihal
2am Wunkstra's Homegrown - Rask Wame

Wednesday - As Monday except

9pm Jo Why Oh Whylie
12am Unsigned - Huw Stevens
2am Oneworld Alliance - Gilles Peterson


7pm CAUTION: Zane Lower Than Lowe
(7.30 - Session In The Nations - analogue only in Wales, Scotland, N Ireland)
9pm Pete Tonk
10pm Colin Murraymint
12am Eddie Gerry Halliwell
2am Experimental - Mary Anne Hobgoblin


7pm (?) More Pete Tong
9pm The Wunkstra Showcase
11pm Annie's Mix Tape
12am Wow Fabbio and Grooverider
2am Future Mix
4am Trophy Twins


7pm Judge Julie
9pm Rev Westwood
12am Reggae Dancehall - Goldfinger
2am Essential Mix
4am Trophy Twins


7pm Dance Anthems
9pm Your Show - Annie Mack
10pm Surgery - Dr Mark and Letitia
12am Rob da Bank
2am Annie Nightingale

It's unclear if Annie's Mix Tape is compiled by Nightingale or Mack.

In other radio news, XFM is to get an old friend back. Richard Bacon is returning to London's bestest commercial station, and taking back his old spot on driveltime. The current incumbent, Lurchio, will fill his shoes on the obscure and faintly pants Crapital Adio programme.

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posted 05 Jul 2006, 20.12 +0100

Thu 13 Jul 2006

What is radio for?

One of my good chums has begun listening in to the Home Service, or whatever they're calling it this week. What might interest an educated person with a background in science and in performing arts? I've taken the liberty of sitting down with next week's rusty old Radio Times, and these shows might be up your boulevard.

You said that you liked ISIHAC, which is (naturally) now off air until November. In its place - 6.31 Monday and 12.04 Sunday - comes Just A Minute, in which stars like Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Town Hawkes, and Clement Freud are invited to talk for a minute without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. There's more traditional sitcommery in the other 6.31 slots, I'm particularly liking The Personality Test (Weds), a set of questions about one person. Also of note is the Friday topical show - this week sees the return of The Now Show, starring Punt and Dennis. It's a bit like their Bad Week broadcast on the Light, but far more topical. You might also like Loose Ends, 6.15 Saturday evening.

There's a lot of drama on the Home Service, and sometimes the controller prefers quantity to quality. A 45-minute play each weekday afternoon turns up the occasional gem - a new Rumpole play goes out next Wednesday - but there's an awful lot of dross to weed out. There's a regular 9pm Friday play with a contemporary beat, next week's reconstructs an asylum appeal. Saturday afternoon's playhouse is the biggest gig on the network, this week is Diana Rigg and Martin Jarvis recreating their West End hit "Honour".

In addition to all this new work, there are pocket dramas around a theme each night at 7.45 - next week's theme is "Birthday Girl". There's fiction at 3.30 and 10.45, and a factual book at 9.45 (repeated midnight 30). If it's real cutting edge drama, off to the Third Programme's "The Wire" strand, and their Sunday drama - demands of the Proms mean the drama goes out on Saturday next week.

Your interest in the way the mind works will be tickled by All In The Mind (9pm Tues). There's wider science discussions at the same time on Thursday, and life's big questions are addressed on Start the Week (9am and 9.30pm Monday).

The Home Service is the flagship news station, and there's an awful lot of it about. Avoid the self-important Today programme, especially the depressing 8.10 interview. I'd rather listen to Cliff Evans. The long-form news bulletins at 6pm and midnight are the best summaries on UK radio, as they give the news straight. From Our Own Correspondent (11.30 Sat) is a sequence of five-minute talks by news reporters on site - it's sometimes very revealing. Analysis (8pm Thurs) and File On Four (8pm Tues) are Panorama on the radio.

I should also mention the diversions, programmes that are entertaining without being comedy. On Sunday, Here Is A Box, A Musical Box (1.30) remembers the world of Trumptonshire. If you're going to listen to the show, don't read the Off The Telly article first. Tuesday will see Humphrey Lyttleton tell the second half of the American Forces Network story, and on Friday there's a correspondence from Marin Mersenne, of prime number fame.

The famous quizzes. Ah, yes. We're currently filling in, as Round Britain Quiz isn't airing this year. X Marks The Spot returns on the 24th (repeat 11pm Saturday from 30th). I can't improve on the UKGS write-up, mostly because it's written by the same chap who writes the puzzles, his style is refreshingly youthful. The other shows in rotation are Brain of Britain (nod sagely when they give the answer), Masterteam (shout out the answers when you know them), Counterpoint (a music quiz), and RBQ (if you can understand the answers after they've been explained, give yourself a pat on the back.)

And finally, if you're after a weekly fix of ISIHAC, take yourself over to BBC7 at 7.30 each Monday night. That station is a whole other post...

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posted 13 Jul 2006, 20.28 +0100

Sat 12 Aug 2006

RAJARs for Q2-06

A little later than I'd planned, here's my analysis of the RAJAR listening figures for the second quarter, released last week.

National stations

Radio 2 remains the nation's favourite for the thirteenth quarter, with an annualised figure remaining at 13.2 million listeners, and 3h25 per head. Radio 1 is back above 10 million for the quarter, the annualised figure creeps up to 10.2m / 2h01. Radio 4 is down a third of a million year-on-year, 9.3m / 2h25.

Slightly surprisingly, Radio 5 drops listeners during the World Cup, remains over 6 million for the quarter, but drops below 6m on annualised - 5.99m / 0h58. Classic FM has recovered a little ground from a very poor first quarter, but remains clearly fifth - 5.90m / 0h54.

Kiss should not be panicking as much as it is, it remains the second biggest national commercial radio brand in the UK - 2.32m / 0h15 represents more hours. Talkshit (2.17m / 0h23) put on some listeners, but remains behind.

Radio 3 loses the ground it gained last time, dropping a quarter of a million listeners (12% of its audience). 1.97m / 0h15 there. Virgin continues to lose listeners, but it's 100,000 this quarter - now down to 1.76m / 0h13. World Service (1.25m / 0h08) is scarcely changed.

Xfm continues to defy analysis, this quarter includes the first results from the new Manchester station. 780,000 / 0h07 represents a continued, but gradual, improvement. BBC-7 continues to come on by leaps and bounds, adding another 7% to listeners and 15% to hours (611,000 / 0h04). The Asian Network gains a few listeners, but hours have shot up by almost 50%, calling into question the reliability of the survey. (439,000 / 0h03).

Of the digital-only stations, Planet Rock suffers its annual spring slip, but is still up year-on-year. (366,000 / 0h02). 6 Music lost listeners but gained 20% hours (326,000 / 0h02). Oneword (128,000 / 0h01) has benefitted from a few Channel 4 Radio programmes, and may yet be turning the corner. Core (111,000 / 0h00) increases its hours by 70%. Life (73,000 / 0h01) lost half its audience and hours; there's now just 200,000 hours across the nation per week, compared with a million this time last year. The Arrow (72,000 / 0h01) holds steady. Cube (50,000 / 0h00) is slowly moving up; the last two stations have incomplete coverage on digital.

BBC local radio

A general reversion to the mean this quarter, with most stations coming back from poor first quarters. Shropshire (29% / 3h26) loses a further four minutes, Hereford & Worcester (26%, 2h43) gains nine minutes and 2% share. Leicester (22%, 2h24) is down a couple of minutes. Oxford (18%, 1h46) regains five minutes. Gloucestershire (17%, 2h08) adds another 1% and eight minutes; it's up almost 50% in hours over the past year. WM (16%, 1h46) posts another good figure. Phil Upton will take breakfast next month, but we won't properly measure that until February's figures. Coventry and Warwickshire (14%, 1h20) loses a further 13 minutes, and is well down on last year. Analogue Asian Network (4%, 0h17) remains low.

Commercial local radio

Starting with the regionals, and Heart 100.7 (24%, 2h09) is holding in place - a slight audience drop doesn't affect its hours. Saga West Mids (12%, 1h25) is also holding position, as is Kerrang (9%, 0h39). In the East Mids, Heart 106 (16%, 1h29) looks to be holding after the re-launch from Century last year, Saga East Mids (12%, 1h22) loses a little more.

Of the heritage ILRs, Fox (32%, 3h10) is still a mile ahead of all competition. Mercia (27%, 2h00) has lost almost a quarter-hour since the autumn survey. BRMB (25%, 1h57) is also coming down, dropping seven minutes as the station loses a little of its lustre. Wyvern (23%, 1h50) recovers somewhat from its disaster in the winter survey, adding half its lost listeners and most of its lost hours. Beacon (20%, 1h44) is slightly down in hours, as seems to be the way.

Rugby (41%, 4h05) remains the leading incremental station. Fosseway (18%, 1h29) also loses hours, Galaxy (17%, 1h27) puts on hours, and The Wolf (15%, 1h03) holds rock steady. The stations formerly known as Kix 96 and The Bear now combine to report as Touch Warwickshire, combining to (20%, 1h50). KIX's last report was 20%, 1h07, The Bear left on 25%, 2h41. Looks like the KM group has rather botched this job, especially as Centre (19%, 1h37) loses audience as it's re-branded Touch Staffordshire.

Finally, the AM services. Mercia-AM (5%, 0h29), Xtra-AM (3%, 0h16), and WABC (3%, 0h16) are all down a little.

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posted 12 Aug 2006, 10.39 +0100

Sun 13 Aug 2006

The Secret Radio Project

Over in one of Birmingham's twin cities, there's a plan to open up the radio airwaves to all-comers.

From next April, WBEW, which broadcasts to much of Chicagou on 89.5 MHz, will let hosts loose on the airwaves for two hours at a time. In theory, they'll be free to play anything that strikes their fancy. The station will also run listener-generated content, a best-of Amateur Hour if you will.

From the sounds of it, this will be completely unpredictable radio, a distinct paradigm shift to allowing disparate voices to be heard. There's very little new under the sun: see also London's Resonance FM.

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posted 13 Aug 2006, 15.01 +0100

Thu 07 Sep 2006

John Drummond

The death has been announced of John Drummond. He was 71. Mr Drummond had been the director of the official Edinburgh arts festival before taking the reins at Radio 3 in 1987. He centred the BBC's high culture radio station around a solid diet of classical music and plays; it's his era that the campaign group Friends of Radio 3 wishes to return to. After handing over the Third to Nicholas Kenyon in 1992, Mr Drummond became a staunch defender of the arts, often criticising the philistine British government.

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posted 07 Sep 2006, 19.20 +0100

Thu 21 Sep 2006

Arrested for crimes against broadcasting

Chris Evans has been arrested by police. The Warrington-born twit, best known for his ginger hair and friendship with "Honest" Danny Cockney, has been detained by police investigating his impersonation of a radio disk jockey.

Oh, hang on, it's some other Chris Evans, nicked in the cash-for-peerages scandal. This Evans is Labour's resident science wonk, and shared a stage with soon to be former prime minister Mister Tony Blair when he launched Labour's science manifesto last year.


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posted 21 Sep 2006, 16.25 +0100

Sun 24 Sep 2006

Malcolm Arnold and Radio 3

The death has been announced of Malcolm Arnold, musician, aged 84. Never one to be pigeon-holed, Mr. Arnold composed the statutory nine symphonies, but most of his work was incidental music for the motion picture industry. He'll be remembered for his theme to The Bridge on the River Kwai, and for his groundbreaking work with Deep Purple. Mr. Arnold's style was quintissentially English, melding elements of traditional classical with folk styles, and always composing with a slightly mischievous sense of humour. His successors include the pop group Blur. Mr. Arnold was originally a trumpeter, and fondly recalls a meeting he had with Mr. Louis Armstrong, a jazz musician. By speaking to the masses, Mr. Arnold helped to make the obscure more accessible without compromising it in any way.

It's fair to say that Mr. Arnold encapsulated the culture of The Third Programme, which marks its diamond jubilee this Saturday. He was able to talk to the high culture audience, and to the popular culture audience, as though they were one and the same. In its original incarnation, The Third Programme was an esoteric mixture of high culture - music, lectures, drama, talks. Budget cuts in 1957 reduced the service's hours; the absolutely barking Broadcasting In The Seventies changes removed most of the spoken-word output, ensuring that high culture would become almost identical with classical music.

Birthday celebrations start with History Through the Ears (9.30 to-night), a discussion on how people have listened. Blood transfusion - another organisation celebrating its diamond anniversary this week - is marked in Night Waves (9.30 to-morrow). The big night is Friday, when there's a repeat of Joyce Grenfell and Stephen Potter's How to Listen, followed by a commission from Jonathan Dove, a talk from Mr. Tom Service - the Controller of New Music - and an exercise comparing and contrasting the culture of 1946 with that of the present day. The decennial out-takes programme is Between the Ears at 10.15 next Saturday.

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posted 24 Sep 2006, 15.06 +0100

Wed 18 Oct 2006

Sale of the Century

The Granada Media Group has purchased the remaining two Century Radio stations from Capital Radio. Originally founded by John Myers in 1994, Century northwest and Century northeast, along with stations in the east midlands and Solent, were purchased from Border Television by Capital in 2000. It is thought possible that GMG, under the day-to-day control of Mr. Myers, may rebrand the stations Real Radio.

DAB stations in Cardiff, London, and Birmingham remain transmitting, at least for the moment, as do transmissions via cable and Astra II.

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posted 18 Oct 2006, 19.00 +0100

Sun 29 Oct 2006

RAJAR figures, Q3 2006

Hmm. It looks like we haven't previously done the Third Quarter RAJAR figures. Better late than never...

In each case, the figures are a weighted average of the most recent quarter's figure, and the middle three of the previous five quarters. This gives a trend figure based on a one-year sample, more stable than the individual quarters.

Share (in the regional tables) is the percentage of listeners who heard the station.

Hours is the average listening figure per person in the area, whether they listened or not.

National stations

Assumed national audience: 49,520,000.

UK national stations, 3rd quarter 2006
BBC national stations
Radio 1103612h02
Radio 2130513h23
Radio 319950h16
Radio 494172h29
Radio 558880h57
World Service13060h09
Asian Network4480h04
Analogue national stations
Classic FM58710h54
Talk Sport21860h23
Virgin 121517540h13
Analogue national stations
Capital Disney590h00
Planet Rock3910h03
Smash Hits7710h03

* 3C and Chill have only three and two quarters of data. 3C reports 98,000 listeners, Chill 120,000; both have 1 minute.

West Midlands local stations, 3rd quarter 2006
BBC local stations
Asian Network (WM)49683.8%0h19
Hereford and Worcester50525.7%2h50
Regional stations
Heart (WM)346924.0%2h11
Saga (WM)346911.5%1h25
Heart (EM)202416.4%1h28
Saga (EM)201712.0%1h17
Heritage local stations
Galaxy (WM)202116.8%1h23
Small-scale local stations
Bear / Kix55618.7%1h37
Heritage AM local stations
Mercia AM6605.3%0h30

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posted 29 Oct 2006, 15.30 +0000

Fri 10 Nov 2006

Three For All (except it's being axed)

Changes are afoot at Radio 3, according to leaks in Sunday's Sunset Times, Monday's Grauniad, and Gillian Reynolds in Tuesday's Telegraph. The 4pm programmes - Stage and Screen, Voices, The Light Programme, and Jazz Legends will all be axed, along with the brief children's show Making Tracks. Sean Rafferty's In Tune programme will lose its final half hour, and the Performance on 3 strand will be almost entirely taped recordings, with even fewer live relays than at present. After the performance will be a regular talks programme (distinct from Night Waves), a poetry-and-music show, and other - as yet unpromised - goodies. Late Junction will slip back from four to three nights a week, and Mixing It bites the dust. Choral Evensong will move from Wednesday to Sunday, replacing a Brian Kay request programme.

I'll start with the evening changes, as these are mostly for the better. It will be good to kick off the evening schedule at 7pm, as 7.30 feels a lot later than it is, and Rafferty's programme always feels drawn out. However, if this is to be at the expense of live productions, I'm not quite so impressed. There's a certain frisson, an electricity about a live relay, one that's absent from taped productions. On the other hand, recordings allow the broadcast engineers to deliver a perfect sound, ironing out any mild imperfections. We shall see how this pans out.

The Composer of the Week strand moves from midnight to 8.45pm, which makes it massively more available, if not more accessible. Night Waves, the discussion programme, will begin at 9.45 - it currently kicks off at 9.30. It's not immediately clear what will fill the half-hour at 10.30, but the Twenty Minutes interval talks will now appear at 11pm; it would be fabulous for these to become a daily podcast. Sad to see the loss of Friday's Mixing It, far more resolutely non-commercial than anything Radio 1 has ever done.

For the uninitiated, the programmes disappearing in the afternoon are as follows:

The BBC appears to claim that these matters are covered elsewhere in the schedule. It's true that there's two and a half hours of jazz each Saturday afternoon, but Radio 2's specialist programme was quietly dropped in the round of changes in April. Radio 2 offers light music with Desmond Carrington, and stage musicals with Elaine Paige, but these shows do not have the depth of their counterparts on 3. Paige, in particular, is incapable of holding a single thought in her head, or of sustaining an interview for more than a couple of minutes, and Radio 2 as a network has traded in much of its quality in the headlong dash for listening figures - the network is far more miss than hit for me these days, a complete reverse of the situation ten years ago.

There would be much less bad feeling from this quarter if 6 Music dared to be a little different from time to time. It is right for the BBC to be producing all of these programmes, and it is just about understandable for them to be shunted off the terrestrial airwaves. The digital station 6 Music would be a logical place to put this output, but the BBC has formatted this digital music station too narrowly. 6 Music should be even more eclectic than this blog, not just a repository for whiteboyindiestrum. Certainly, Mixing It should be there, and the BBC will be failing and failing badly if it is not.

It's fair to say that some of the programmes - the conversational editions of Stage and Screen and Jazz Legends could transfer to the speech network, Radio 4. Again, this would slightly miss the point - 4 has lost its tradition of intelligent music programmes, and its work is all talk and no music.

Finally, why does the BBC axe the one midweek religious service, the only chance many people get to view these works as art, rather than as articles of faith? And why shove it out in the middle of Sunday evening, when many of the audience will be out at church?

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posted 10 Nov 2006, 19.13 +0000

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