I like it when Radio 1 has a reshuffle.
It’s like politics but in a non serious way (for the kids, like). The chance to bring in new blood and watch as someone starts the inexorable slide towards the graveyard slot before sliding out of the backdoor and off to Comfort FM to live out the rest of their years wearing chunky sweaters and listening to ‘The Best Of Chicago’.
Of course there will be few Radio 1 reshuffles as dramatic as Matthew Bannister’s carve up in the nineties which saw the likes of Simon Bates, DLT and Gary Davies get their marching orders in a bid to return Radio 1 to a lean mean music machine.
In fairness it worked, getting rid of the old guard (apart from John Peel who we all thought would live forever) was a smart move in the longterm. The majority of the old DJ’s were more interested in regaling us with tales from the golf course and how ‘matey’ they were with their ‘mates’ rather than playing anything remotely cutting edge.
I suspect the BBC thought they had got wiped out a species when Bannister’s axe fell. But alas a generation later and maybe the station might find itself facing the same problem.
The latest reshuffle (in my opinion, you understand) doesn’t do much to reinforce the stations commitment to ‘new music’. As a rule the specialist DJ’s and champions of new stuff (step forwards Stephens, Kwame and Da Bank) seem to have been pushed further into the twilight hours to make way for personality jocks who seem to prefer the sound of their own voices to the music.
Of course the mainstays stick to their slots like glue. Dynamite wouldn’t shift Chris Moyles even though there are better breakfast shows out there (6Music,XFM London). Zane Lowe’s show remains unchanged and in fairness he does a decent job of breaking new music and delivers a great show with an unparalleld enthusiasm.
The mid morning slot is retained by Jo Whiley who I thought would have moved to 6Music by now (big radio miles on the clock, having to play chart rubbish must hurt). While Vernon Kay does his token northerner stint for the weekends and retains all the appeal of having your teeth smashed in with hammers. Over weekday lunch we get Edith Bowman (weird nostrils that girl, next time she’s on telly have a look) who without her gobby foil Colin Murray is professionally unremarkable. A safe bet in the making.
It’s the 9pm slot that should garner some interest. The ‘In New Music We Trust’ feature will run from Monday to Thursday with Steve Lamacq, Tim Westwood (his main show is now on Saturday), Jo Whiley, Pete Tong (getting back the hour he lost on his Essential Selection, it’s the death knell for him I tell ye) doing a night each looking at what is happening in their particular musical field of interest. Colin Murray will handle the 10pm space from Monday to Thursday. I’m not really a fan (actually I think he’s a tosser but that’s just my opinion) but I will be interested to see what he makes of a later slot. I do find myself asking…why?, though. Couldn’t they have made this more of a varied offering.
Annie Mac will handle Friday’s 10pm slot. A good bet if ever there was one. Knowledgeable on her subject without being boring, genuinely enthusiastic and her previous show was consistently entertaining with a spot on tracklisting (give her time, then give her Tong’s slot I say). She’s like a good nightclub in your living room.
The specialists all get moved to uniform slots at midnight with a traditional Rock Show (Monday), Bobby Friction and Nihal (Tuesday), Huw Stephens will be doubtless be bringing a new swathe of guitar and Welsh speaking bands (Wednesday). Eddie Halliwell will be doing Thursdays with his usual brand of dance music. Fabio & Grooverider will be on Friday with Goldfinger using his Saturday slot for a reggae show. Rob Da Bank will be on Sunday.
The unappreciated graveyard slots (2am) will be handled by Mike Davies, Ras Kwame, Giles Peterson, Mary Ann Hobbs (no stranger to working lates), Anne Nightingale will be shoring up Sundays (will someone give the old dear a break(beat)). While the 4 am shift will be handled by kid friendly JK & Joel with Fearne & Reggie on Fridays (these two being the presenting equivalent of a migraine, in my opinion of course).
As a whole for the listener this is going to be one of those wait and see (or hear) scenarios. Is this really a chance for Radio 1 to become a vanguard for new music or a surface change that moves some of the populist members of the Radio 1 family into more prominent positions, yet moving members of the ‘new old guard’ closer to the exit.
Maybe some of them should be watching their backs…