If you enjoy listening to music, you probably enjoy listening to the radio. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality, the radio is and always will be thought of as one of the most popular and accessible sources of entertainment in the 21st century.
Pop princess Rihanna quite rightly states in Capital FM’s latest advertising campaign that it actually stands as “the middleman” between a musician and their fans. The radio offers listeners the opportunity to discover new music and reminisce with the old. It offers the chance to explore different genres and grasp a true sense of what you enjoy and what you don’t. It offers an escape from reality, a fast ticket to freedom far away from the stress and troubles of our day to day lives. (Too deep? I’m an English student, unfortunately that’s the way my mind works).
It is for this reason that I question the motives behind The BBC Trust’s new scheme to drive out the older, long-time lovers of popular UK radio station Radio 1 in order to lower the age of the average listener, which was last year revealed to be 32. As a result, the BBC have been working tirelessly to attract a much younger audience of 15-29 year olds, bringing in an array of new, younger presenters, including T4’s Jameela Jamil and YouTube sensations Dan Howell and Phil Lester.
The station also saw the hugely popular radio veteran Chris Moyles axed, with the younger Nick Grimshaw taking his place on the breakfast show. In addition, Radio 1 was given a fresh and distinctive revamp, with the playlist now featuring a larger variety of drum & bass, dubstep and dance music in the hope of connecting with the younger generation and encouraging older listeners to switch off. Seemingly, The BBC does not see age as just a number, but instead an indicator which determines your right to listen to the music they broadcast.
Change can sometimes be a good thing, and if the BBC station wants to change, they have every right to.
However, surely the true purpose of radio shouldn’t be about branding, labelling or maintaining a ‘cool’ and young image and reputation. Primarily, it is the music which is more important, regardless of who is listening to it.
Why should your music taste rely upon how long you’ve been on the planet? If a 78 year old Grandmother enjoys singing along to Beyoncé on Radio 1 while she’s knitting this year’s collection of Christmas jumpers, she has just as much right as any teenager who’s listening while they’re doing their homework. The BBC is a tax-funded service; if the British public are the ones paying the license fee, they should be able to tune into anything they choose to.
Radio 1 might be struggling with their ongoing battle to cut their older audience, but with veteran DJ’s such as Annie Nightingale, Pete Tong and Tim Westwood still on the air, they’re blatantly shooting themselves in the foot. Combined, these three have a career spanning nearly 100 years at Radio 1, which just goes to prove that you don’t need to be young to appreciate new music.
Regardless of where the station is steered next, it would be an understatement to say that Radio 1 Controller Ben Cooper has a monumental task on his hands, though he’s clearly only a puppet with the suits above pulling the strings.
Would the circumstances be any different if Andy Parfitt, who left the station in 2011, were still in charge?