Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Worth saving 6? Maybe

So the BBC has earmarked digital station 6 Music along with The Asian network for closure, in a wider move that seems to be a pre-emptive trimming of its capacity ahead of a possible Tory government and subsequent crackdown. It's the opposition with various Murdoch media that are usually in the frontline of the BBC's attackers ('Big, Bloated and Cunning' was a particularly peevish editorial last week). Save6Music is trending big on the Tweetpipe, I hear.

But no sooner had the axe been prepared for wielding that 6 Music discovered how loved it is, really. Around 100,000 have joined the Facebook campaign in a matter of days (it's only a couple of clicks). Even Ed Vaizey, shadow culture secretary, is backing it to survive (having never heard it before last Friday), ignoring unofficial policy on the corporation.

Conforming as I do to its 30-50 white (male) bourg demographic, I've of course been a regular, mostly daytime listener of 6 ever since we got our digital radio several years back. It fits around my work schedule nicely, whereas daytime on 1Xtra is not for the olders (Rinse I reserve for driving my, er, crew - ie, the children - round southeasy). It's a post-Peel wonderland where only his liking for NME bands is remembered. Most of the DJs are good in their own way, I like Shaun Keaveney in the morning, Lauren Laverne has good downloads, Marc Riley's show is worthy uber-indie and i even liked that dick Lamb's weekly shows because he played decent hip-hop and disco. Maconie's experimental Sunday show is rightly lauded. But there is no doubt that there is FAR TOO MUCH guitar music on the site. it is a dump for landfill indie, though XFM is the willing major client on that score. If it doesn't play indie-rock, it plays the long-accepted alternatives, soul (Craig Charles has a flagship show), reggae/dub (Don Letts gets to tell his story AGAIN tonight), ska, rock and roll. They do crappy events like teaming Gary Numan with Little Boots because they both play synth music. It lacks the up-to-the-minute intense coverage of radio 1's better night-time shows.

A user, yes, then if not a committed fan, and if it did get the chop I could live without it due to the myriad other options available, or, you know, just do without that side of music. I could live without the shiny happy major label industry album/gig/festival infrastructure losing another of its life support mechanisms too. But if the groundswell of support does save 6 then i suggest it could use a bit of redefinition, a bit more danceable daring at night-time, more programmes that support actually alternative music, docs that address areas we 30-50s havent heard about a million times already and some substantial news slots (not just about music) would do for starters.
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