Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Radio 1: as it is

A while ago we found an old notebook, a good eleven or twelve years old, packed with ideas, doodles and flights of fancy. Among these was a plan we'd taken up on some summer's day to note down every record played on BBC Radio 1 from the end of the Golden Hour at 10am through to the moment Radcliffe became Sturgess/Lloyd at midnight. What purpose it served us at the time is unrecorded, but it seemed fascinating with the benefit of hindsight, records lost to the passage of time rubbing shoulders with future retro playlist classics.

As Radio 1 steps up to celebrate its fortieth anniversary at the end of September, it got us thinking. The station's listenership figures are going sharply up again after several years in the commercial and critical doldrums, yet the stick it receives from the cognescenti is unmatched since at least DLT and Bates were running things. Is it really that slow to reason and fast to trend or does it merely hold up a mirror to what the 16-24s and factory workers of today really want, in its position as Britain's only national pop station? Well, that question is for a conference of some sort, but it's about time we took notes once more.

What we're doing over the next five days, with the aid of some Listen Again ripping, is taking in a whole day's Radio 1 output, from 7am to midnight, noting down every record played and everything else we deem notable along the way. As a fairly normal day in the scheme of things we chose Wednesday 22nd August, two days before the big Reading & Leeds Carling Weekend festival but with nothing untoward otherwise, and notably a day when the regular schedule was technically unbroken. Moyles today, Whiley tomorrow, Bowman Thursday, Mills Friday, the specialist shows Saturday - time to embark on seventeen hours' checking on where the pop nation stands...

Chris Moyles, 7am-10am

Just past his own tenth year anniversary, Chris Moyles has earnt his role as emblem of the modern Radio 1. RAJAR after RAJAR his figures go up, yet for many he remains a totem of all that is wrong with modern youth broadcasting. Clearly he wouldn't be here without Evans' example, having made his radio name in the mid-90s, but his persona of high grade cajoling and drawing back only when threatened, like a gazelle might, has, perhaps because he's never had Evans' simultaneous TV exposure, crystallised what many feel is the modern Radio 1 attitude. Bloody hell, he's got a second autobiography out next month. We've not heard his show since before he started on breakfast at the start of 2004. Much of this, we suspect, will sail clean over our head. We also half suspect it'll be read out on the show before the end of the week.

Is the start always this prolonged? Do people not want records any more? Chris had a late night at a showbiz event (the Rolling Stones). Some things don't change. Chris talks about security at the O2, then something about jobsworthiness. He's still working the retro-styled jingles, which don't sound like old Radio 1 jingles at all any more. Twelve minutes in, a record!
Robyn feat. Kleerup - With Every Heartbeat (cut off before the really good bit)
The Bravery - An Honest Mistake
Some convoluted stuff about the ill sportsreader and Dave introducing some sort of football in-game
Sean Kingston - Beautiful Girls
News, then some sort of birthday feature. This must work on endless levels of irony.
The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (we suspect this wasn't on the computer system)
Hard-Fi - Suburban Knights
Justin Timberlake - Lovestoned
Joel off of JK & Joel gets auditioned for the sports news. It doesn't last long.
Ida Corr vs Fedde Le Grand Let Me Think About It ("which they should have done at playlist")
Dave has a new game and Chris chooses the intro music live. This is clearly going to take much longer than the game.
Pink - Get The Party Started
Maroon 5 - Wake Up Call
Think Of A Number, it's called. It's some sort of draw-based football prediction game. Eight minutes later it makes no more sense then when it started.
Scouting For Girls - She's So Lovely (Chris likes it. Of course he does)
When did periods of silence become a successful part of a radio persona?
News. Followed by Who Knows Dom?, some sort of Six Degrees-esque feature that makes precious little sense, and an anecdote about making gravy that's as exciting as it sounds.
Kanye West - Stronger
Freaks - The Creeps
We've just realised that we're two hours in and have barely written anything for such a length. It's Dave's Tedious Link, which today comes up with, wow...
Prefab Sprout - The King Of Rock'n'Roll
Moyles ends up doing an impression of Paddy McAloon, and McAloon's vocal style on Steve McQueen at that. Then he plays a lot of non-obvious TV themes, which he's also always been good at. This dissolves into Chris talking about who he fancies, as per, which somehow leads onto long forgotten girl band Girls At Play.
Pigeon Detectives - Take Her Back
An advert for the show's podcast sees Chris do What Darth Vader Would Have Sounded Like Had Dave Prowse Not Been Redubbed. He would have had a strong Bristolian accent, apparently.
Kano feat. Craig David - This Is The Girl
Chris does a series of impressions of Leigh Francis' version of Craig David, for all the use that is. Then, news, followed by Chris' poor take-offs on the entire BBC live England football studio team. This doesn't seem a lot of content for two and a half hours.
David Guetta feat. Chris Willis - Love Is Gone
Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control
Some sort of gubbins about Fantasy Football, the sort of thing you come up with 2 hours 50 into a breakfast show that's not had a narrative to hang on to this morning. It gets onto fit women, of course.
Armand Van Helden - I Want Your Soul
Jo Whiley's got KT Tunstall in, so the team are swapping Jimmy Krankie approximations. "Rubbish show today, wasn't it?" is a fair way to leave it, being a show that sometimes hints at structure but is more content to follow its nose and its obsessions for three hours. Given those with any awareness of Moyles' style and preoccupations already know what these obsessions are more than likely to be, especially within this hermetically sealed world of catchphrases and internally led features, it's a show that stands or falls on whether they actually have anything to discuss at length. This makes it actually quite brave in the music-led breakfast radio world, especially with little requested listener interaction, but if it doesn't come off it jars horribly.


jamila FUCKING DANCE said...

i think it's very brave of you to voluntarily listen to numerous radio 1 djs, haha. just promise me all the mediocre drivel and jo wiley's disgraceful brown nosing won't make you go and jump off the nearest bridge?

Neil Stewart said...

The pregnant pause, which is in fact dead air, particularly irks me when it comes to Moyles. It seems to be that he has picked up on "comedy of cruelty" stuff like The Office, which is always making use of awkward silences for comic purposes. The problem is, Moyles isn't funny in the first place, so these pauses just come across as stilted and annoying.

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