Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Worst. Album. Ever. (And a few thoughts about the current state of youth radio)

I'd usually steer clear of attacking such obvious grist-to-the-liberal-blog-community mill - mocking Chris Moyles is like shooting angry, bullying, misogynistic fish in a barrel - but this particular dispatch from the front-line of stupidity is too awful to ignore. I mean: why?

Radio One is in a terrible state. The day-time schedule is a wasteland, a place where youth culture is institutionally treated with a lack of respect bordering on outright contempt. I have no complaint with the quality & variety of pop music pumped out by the station; I enjoy much of it and can easily ignore that which I don't. The problem is the presenters.

Chris Moyles and his gaggle of weaselly sycophants offer the laziest form of lowest common-denominator, dull shock-jockery. It's desperately sad, even insulting, that this is what the BBC think the young people of this country deserve. He isn't cool. He doesn't say anything about youth culture in the UK in 2009. He's just some boorish 36 year old bloke, chuntering away, knowing nothing about The Kids or what they want, or anything remotely zeitgeisty.

As spectacularly lame as Moyles is, he's got nothing on the presenter of the show which follows his. In Ferne Cotton we have the embodiment of everything that is wrong with mainstream pop music broadcasting today; she's been chosen as personality, clothes horse and serial dater of musicians, rather than being especially well-informed about, having a particular passion for or any sort of background in music broadcasting. Cotton is a generic 'Presenter', not a specialist music broadcaster. The BBC would not choose Ferne Cotton to present Formula One because she doesn't have an authoritative voice on the subject; it shows a lack of respect for pop music that they have not disqualified her from being a music presenter on the same basis. There appears to remain this idea across all networks with youth / music broadcasting that 'anyone can do it', and to some extent there's probably some truth to that - but it certainly isn't true to say that everyone can do it well. There must be hundreds of young people who have come through University radio etc who are (a) genuinely passionate about music in a way Cotton is not and (b) talented, intelligent, witty presenters. Give them a chance instead.

Maybe this is just a cranky rant by an out-of-touch 29 year old about a radio station whose output isn't aimed at him anyway...but I know tons of people in their late teens and early 20s -Radio One's key demographic - who feel exactly the same way I do, ie: insulted. Radio One reached a point in the Nineties when free-falling audience figures and general cultural irrelevance forced bosses to cull practically an entire generation of dinosaur DJs, and I'd suggest we've arrived at this point once more. I'm not saying we should hang all the DJs, but I can name a handful of 'em them who should be encouraged to hang up their headphones for good.