Five reasons to: Save BBC 6Music
- Nicola Meighan
- 4 March 2010
First came a collective up-in-arms from indie fans across the land; then came the validation of their anguish by the BBC: its small but much-loved digital radio station, 6Music, is to close next year – alongside the Asian Network – pending a public consultation. The news has riled Lily Allen, Radiohead, David Bowie and over 100,000 music lovers who’re channelling their chagrin through Facebook.
Setting aside suspicions – nay, hopes – that this dispatch is in fact an immaculate PR ruse, (let’s face it, 6Music has never been particularly visible in its eight-year tenure, and now it’s a front-page national treasure), find herewith five reasons to let it be. And what do you know! They’ve been lifted verbatim from the BBC’s ‘statement of mission and values’...
1: It enriches people's lives
Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’ on a Monday morning; the extended version of The Lotus Eaters’ ‘First Picture of You’ on a random lunchtime; hearing the Arcade Fire for the first time; stumbling across an unknown delight – say, Liam Frost and Martha Wainwright’s ‘Your Hand in Mine’. Unexpected pop songs will always enrich our lives. 6 Music ceaselessly provides them.
Its programming has long been a haven for alternative music lovers: a station whose thriving new music playlist is augmented by a record library – and live archive – that celebrates pop culture’s variegated lineage (rock ‘n’ roll, punk, disco, hip-hop, whatever); while also exploring its myriad futures.
For most of us, its demise means no more than the loss of our favourite background channel – but with that comes the loss of a soundtrack to our humdrum actions, our everyday: everything.
2: It educates, informs, and entertains
This week’s 6 Music schedule offers the following: Don Letts’ ace documentary series on reggae powerhouse Trojan Records; interviews with Gorillaz, Fear Factory, Broken Bells and Errors; Steve Lamacq’s pick of unsigned talent.
The station’s real tenacity, however, lies in the knowledge and enthusiasm of its regular presenters – particularly Lauren Laverne, Gideon Coe and Tom Robinson. They guide us through a wonderland of songs we love, or have loved, or may come to love: of records we’ve read about, heard about, meant to listen to, or hunt down – before we got bogged down – in the internet’s burgeoning aural infinity.
3: It celebrates diversity
Herewith some weekly 6 Music specialist shows by way of eclectic evidence: Rock/Metal (Bruce Dickinson), Funk/Soul (Craig Charles), Dance (Dave Pearce), Electronica (Andrew Weatherall), Psychedelia/Out-there (Stuart Maconie). Plus all manner of spoken word edicts, classic artefacts and pop ephemera selected and presented by the likes of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ Huey Morgan.
They’re even up for playing Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’. When it’s flanked by UNKLE and Schneider TM, this heralds the zenith of diversity itself.
4: It takes pride in delivering quality and value for money
Despite a modest (i.e. miniscule) budget and limited resources, 6 Music has consistently delivered high quality rock / pop / alternative programming; intelligent, credible, passionate presenting; and specialist, informative – but never elitist – music provision since 2002. Isn’t it thus an exemplary template for public service broadcasting?
5: Audiences are at the heart of everything it does
Phil Jupitus once played the Damned’s 17-minute goth epic ‘Curtain Call’ due to public demand. Frank Sidebottom has received more airplay than falls within the ‘normal range’ – which is zero – on account of audience interest. And let us never forget the modern-day parable of George Lamb: 6 Music listeners railed, en masse, and finally ousted the breakfast ‘presenter’ for being your basic inveterate bampot. Are you listening, Mark Thompson?
Listen to 6 Music: www.bbc.co.uk/6music
Gently vent your spleen to the Beeb: www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consultations/departments/bbc/bbc-strategy-review/consultation/consult_view
Facebook protest group: www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&gid=278123313911