The crux of the debate was the Radio One play list (this weeks playlist- full of expensive pop, tiny amount of indie and no rock) end how Mclure felt that it was blanking out lots of bands. Obviously the debate was personal for the charismatic Reverend And the Makers frontman who, despite selling out a big UK tour and having a top 20 album, is getting no daytime radio play.
His argument was not just about this though and he brought up great recent records like from Janice Graham Band that fall between the cracks because of lack of daytime radio backing.
Mclure felt that the playlist is suffocating and seems to be a byzantine system that is making it hard for bands to break through and is also unfair to bands like his who have a big following but can’t get the next break to the mainstream.
It’s always been the frustration with radio- even my band Goldblade nearly got daytime radio play with our top 75 single Strictly Hardcore- the playlist panel liked the single but said there was too much guitar in the song to be played on the radio! Mclure was also unhappy with Radio One’s claims to having done market research to ‘find out what the audience wanted’ and questioned this grey area research.
The debate was heated yet polite with head of Radio One George Ergatoudis claiming that the playlist system was fair with 15 people on a panel making the decisions and that it’s a ‘democracy and not a dictatorship’ and that new bands like the 1975 and Alt-J are getting radio support and how he doesn’t interfere with evening radio DJs choices. He also pointed out that Radio One was pitched at 15 to 29 year olds.
It’s an interesting debate. What is the role of Radio One? if it’s paid for by the public should it be reflecting what they want to hear? if it plays pop music, then it should play music that is popular- like heavy metal which never gets near the playlists yet sells out stadiums! who decides what three minute piece of sound is ok for radio play? is Radio One a self styled filter or a reflection of what people want to hear?
Apparently though the remit for Radio One is not to play pop music, the service licence provided by the BBC Trust says âThe remit of Radio 1 is to entertain and engage a broad range of young listeners with a distinctive mix of contemporary music and speech. Its target audience is 15-29 year olds but it should also provide some programming for younger teenagersâ.
That sounds like the Reverend And The Makers audience! and also the audience of those big metal and rock bands that never get played on Radio One! This needs to be addressed because, otherwise, it’s not a ‘broad audience’.
Even nowadays, decades later from its seventies heyday, Radio One is still an important influence on public taste and that’s what frustrates Jon Mclure. He is right to question why his and other records don’t get played. The Reverend And The Makers gig I saw last month was quite special in terms of the band’s music and the intense atmosphere in the room. Do we have to wait for the band to break big with hard graft and the increasingly influential internet before they get played on the radio? Why do bands still have to rely on 15 people to decide whether they are worthy of getting heard by several million listeners?
Obviously Radio One can’t please everyone. Maybe we need a new radio station to play all the other stuff? the internet is already changing the balance with many cult bands getting bigger and bigger without having to rely on the very narrow tastes of daytime radio and the media where only mercury prize nice indie gets a look in.