Everywhere at the moment is the news that two digital radio stations, BBC 6 Music and BBC Asian Network, are to be closed. Rupert Murdoch must be rubbing his hands with glee, wanting to destroy the BBC’s monopoly in favour of his own – one where you pay money AND sit through adverts, and most of the TV programmes and none of the radio programming you love would never have been made.
We’ve been supported by 6 Music from very early on, Steve Lamacq made us his Band of the Week and we braved our shyness to do a radio interview. Tom Robinson played us soon after and kept playing us, on a show called BBC Introducing Fresh On The Net that simply couldn’t exist on any other station or network – it exists just to play new music that listeners have recommended, much of it independent and often unreleased. We listen to Tom, Steve, Stuart Maconie (someone give the Freak Zone a new home, eh?), Lauren Laverne, 6 Mix, Adam and Joe, Collins and Herring, Craig Charles, Jarvis Cocker, Marc Riley and more.
Nerm on BBC Asian Network thrilled us by playing ‘Virtual Boy’ on Electro East and we’ve tuned in for exciting new music (often that would be outside our experience if not for the station) from Nerm, Pathaan and Friction many a time – not to mention cricket coverage.
The reports say that these audiences should just be served by commercial radio. The same commercial radio that is reduced to several giant groups of stations that play the same tired list of oldies and recent hits daily, in a situation where important and good stations like Rinse don’t have a licence and new music never gets played to national or even large local audiences. It’s only the BBC that has that reach and commitment on mainstream platforms. New music and under-supported music need investment, the BBC provides it. We’re happy to pay our licence fee, and we don’t want the Beeb we know and love to be eroded by big commercial broadcasters with a nasty agenda.