6 Feet Under

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
By Harry

So, it’s true.

Erstwhile home of The Steve Show and favourite radio station of everyone who likes music, 6 Music is to be shut down by the BBC.

In a strategy report released today, the BBC announced that 6 Music and the Asian Network are to close, along with cutbacks to their website and various other tinkerings.

I fell in love with 6 Music the first time I turned on my brand new DAB radio and heard them playing Husker Du.  No-one plays Husker Du.  I woke up to the grumpy mumblings of Phill Jupitus, I nodded off to Marc Riley in the evenings, and often considered throwing a sickie just to tune in to the brilliant Gideon Coe.

And then, incredibly, we got the gig!  Where else would a bunch of utterly unqualified hangers-on like us be allowed to broadcast for two hours a week on national radio?  Apart from talkSPORT, maybe?

Now don’t get me wrong – 6 Music isn’t perfect.  I’ve never understood the point of 6 Music News Music News, the playlist can be a bit annoying during the week, and then there’s George Lamb.  Also, it took them ages to sort out our passes for the building, the security guards on reception were useless, and finding a pair of headphones that worked was always the toughest assignment of the afternoon.

6 also had a big part to play in the rise and rise of ‘landfill indie’, the dreary corporate alterno-fodder used in the trails for every E4 show.

But by playing interesting, often challenging stuff that you really don’t hear anywhere else, by giving a platform to hundreds of lesser-known artists to play live sessions, and by having some of the most musically articulate and passionate DJs around, 6 Music really is unique.  Maconie’s FreakZone?  The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show?  The aforementioned Coe and Riley? Garvey, Cocker, Robinson?

And yet it has to go.  The BBC is shutting down a station that could not exist in the commercial world.  We sometimes received bleating emails from unhinged listeners carping on about how playing something that they didn’t like was somehow against the remit of the station, which was obviously bollocks, but at least proved the passion of the station’s supporters.  Today’s decision, to me, flies in the face of the remit of the BBC.  

If they’re going to shut anything down (in what is, let’s face it, a pre-emptive strike against a BBC-hostile Tory government which may not even be voted in), it should really be Radio1 – there are countless commercial stations that replicate the output of Radio1, and the cost saving would be off the scale of anything announced today.

Of course, everyone should join the Facebook group, but frankly, once businesses make decisions like this, they tend not to change them.  You might as well join a group appealing for the return of New Coke, or the abolition of Tuesdays

If I’ve learnt anything over the last 12 months, it’s that no matter how inept a business decision, the individuals responsible will fall behind it and defend it to the death, and hope that people eventually just give up the fight.

But wait – what’s this?  The chairman of the BBC Trust has said that the decision could be overturned if there is ‘massive public concern’.  And absurd shadow culture spokesman Ed Vaizey is now apparently a huge 6Music fan.

So take to the streets.  Daub pro-Nemone slogans on your duvet covers and hang them from motorway bridges.  Don Shaun Keaveney facemasks and storm the town halls of this fair land.  Raze the studios of XFM to the ground and dissect the corpses with sharpened Fall CDs. 

Let’s save 6Music.

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