Blessed are the geeks…

Now I’m not being funny but the world of radio attracts geeks.  I was the child who recorded hour after hour of ‘radio shows’ on my little cassette recorder to send to Kenny Everett.  I was the child who taped jingles off the radio and catalogued them in a little exercise book with the dates in red and everything.  I was the kid who loved the presenters and wanted to be like them when I grew up.  Yes, reader – I was (and am) a radio geek.

But where will the new generation get their inspiration? These days British commercial radio sounds weirdly generic.  The same songs, the same style of presenting…and a cloying sense of safety, as if all the staff in the radio station have been told to wear a hard hat and goggles before they’re allowed anywhere near a studio.

We live in an age where political correctness is prized by media corporations far more than a presenter’s personality.  We hear stuff where media bosses implore their staff to indulge in ‘blue sky thinking’ (whatever that bloody means) but only as long as that sky isn’t clouded by controversy or inappropriate passion or daring creativity because somebody somewhere will almost inevitably be offended by something, probably.  After Sachsgate, it feels as if we’re all too bound up with self-censorship to truly let our minds fly; we all know the risk of courting controversy and while the lure of notoriety might be appealing to would-be anarchists, the trauma of it all is too damn risky.

Last week Tom Binns lost his job at BRMB because he said the Queen’s Speech was boring.  Whether you agree with him or not, he dared to express an opinion; he dared to be risky.  I’m always reading in Broadcast about commissioners of entertainment shows urging new blood to be ‘edgy,‘ (whatever that chuffing means too) because ‘edgy’ is regarded as being cool, full of swashbuckling ebullience and a devil-may-care attitude to conformity.  But actually, in the real world, media execs don’t really want edgy do they?  Edgy scares the shit out of them because edgy provokes a response from a public that’s peppered with Daily Mail readers who just can’t wait for an excuse to get their pitchforks out.  Was Tom Binns being edgy or just reckless?  And what the hell’s the difference anyway?

So my hope for 2010 is that radio will find itself again.  It will embrace the freaks, the geeks and the people who are brave enough to be themselves…even when they’ve been told to sound as if they’re wearing a biohazard suit.

 

This blog can also be read at Radio Today.

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Emma Clarke

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