Marcus Berkmann

Station to be cherished

Station to be cherished

Like every red-blooded male, I do like a gadget, and the latest pointless item of electrical flummery to adorn our absurdly small flat is a digital radio. What a wonderful machine it is. The excellence of the sound quality, the ease of use, and the fact that Radio Two is no longer blotted out by some teenage pirate halfwit broadcasting grimecore out of his bedroom to an audience of eight (all of them actually trying to find Radio Two on the dial) have all justified the purchase, and I now find myself listening to music radio more than I have done for years. Terry Wogan, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Steve Wright and Johnnie Walker: it’s a surprisingly varied menu, although ennui does creep in when the new Coldplay single has been played one time too many.

Why does this otherwise splendid radio station persist with the playlist? Why, indeed, pay lip service to the idea of the single at all? No one is buying them, unless you count downloads, which the chart compilers now must because otherwise they would have nothing to compile. I would love a slightly more adventurous range of music policy, which doesn’t mean playing music Radio Two listeners wouldn’t ever want to hear — there’s enough of that on other stations — but would mean playing music Radio Two listeners didn’t know they wanted to hear until they heard it. Radio Two is so successful — Wogan has more than 8 million listeners every day, and Johnnie Walker averages 5.2 million — because the presenters generally treat their listeners as intelligent human beings who get the joke. The music policy isn’t quite so sophisticated. It’s an opportunity missed.

At times, though, even the most dedicated Radio Two listener can feel his skull begin to bulge and recognise the need to tune in to something else.

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