Every now and again I like to look at what’s floating my proverbial boat in the world of Radio. So far I’ve looked at BBC’s Radio 1 with its previously strong night time selection (but frankly passable daytime offerings). 6Music with its independent bias and intentions towards a slightly older demographic (and rather good it is too, but then again maybe I am getting closer in years to the intended audience group).
This time round I am going to be looking at XFM London. Available in olde worlde FM format or for you hip new kids either DAB or online. Either way what you’ve got here is a nice half way house between Radio 1 and 6Music. Daytime programming on the former has become notoriously ‘ned friendly’ with DJ’s leading the listener to believe that the latest offerings from Snow Patrol are truly wondrous things of beauty or that the latest chipmunk laced chart dance fodder is ‘fun’. 6Music meanwhile has a tendency to bypass this by going for the golden oldie section of the market and while there is nothing whatsoever wrong with a bit of Clash or Blondie there is always the chance that things can get a bit predictable.
XFM falls neatly between the two, the absolute gets less airtime but new alternative material does make its presence felt. Sure ‘America’ by Razorlight might be on heavy rotation but you can’t have it all ways. Certain aspects of programming stand out as well, Lauren Laverne’s Breakfast Show is a nimble little affair and I’m always in favour of someone who knows their onions when it comes to presenting a program. I’m actually surprised Radio 1 didn’t make inroads towards scooping her up before now.
At the other end of the scale XFM might not have the specialist heavyweights for the evening segments but it doesn’t fare too badly. Sarah Darling’s show makes a conscious effort to champion new music and its done in an honest rather than contrived kind of way. Other stations make a big song and dance about giving unsigned music a shout whereas here the new offerings are slotted almost incongruously into the lineup.
John Kennedy’s late evening show has something of an old school charm about it courtesy of a somewhat laid back almost humble presenting style. Bands are invited in to perform tracks from new or forthcoming releases (a la live lounge) and for an informal chat, it works nicely and the general content is never too full on which is apt considering the time of night.
Highlights for the weekend start with Marsha for Breakfast again presenting a rather levelled playlist of old and new stuff that thankfully avoids the frothier pop content. But for me the real content comes courtesy of Sunday night kicking off with Eddy Temple Morris’s show The Remix at 7pm on Sundays. This is where “Rock meets Dance” and its as good an opportunity as any to get to hear familiar material in chopped and diced forms. The show doesn’t shy away from playing heading into the crazier elements of dance music and once again the mix of a knowledgeable DJ with a genuine enthusiasm for his subject matter is what makes for a winning combination.
Its complimented nicely by Flo Motion with Nick Luscombe who favours the more chilled out aspects of dance music and electronica. After Eddy’s somewhat more frenetic pace its nice to have something to come down with and if your weekend has been one that has made you somewhat ‘tired and emotional’ this makes for quite an appropriate tonic.
So there you have it when the goggle box lets you down (as it so often does these days) and it’s too cold to venture you can always avail yourself of the wireless for a bit of entertainment. As it stands XFM represents what should be considered one of the stronger contenders in the realm of the commercial/alternative stations.