Kerrang's music-loving deputy programme director James Walshe tells The Drum why he won't be celebrating the demise of 6 Music and Asian Network if the stations close as planned.
When I was at school, you were either a metal-head, an indie-kid or a raver. You never ever mixed any of the three. A bash ‘round the ear was most likely, if you dared proclaim a love for The Shamen to your GnR T-shirt wearing mates. With the sheer variety of music available to the human race in 2010, people are much less snooty about the specific types of music they listen to. Music genres have crossed and it has evolved to form a mish-mash of a million styles. Most people generally like music. But there’s a difference between those who like music and those who love it.
This band of radio listeners demand a little more from music radio. These audiences are catered for by a number of UK radio stations on the leading edge of mainstream – such as Kerrang! Radio, 6 Music, the Kiss Network and so on – who set their sights on championing new music and possessing a rich variety of alternative music within the schedules. Without stations like these, their audiences will turn instead to their iPods.
The possible loss of 6 Music and Asian Network would be a shame in the sense that audiences will ultimately be denied another outlet of music they don’t necessarily get from mainstream radio stations – and by that I mean anything from mainstream commercial radio to BBC stations such as Radio One. There are few radio stations left in the UK playing specialist and alternative music of any kind.
Part of the problem would seem to be a lack of vision and awareness over what it is you actually do. It’s vital you set out your stall to your audience. For instance, Kerrang! Radio is very clear about its music policy to all – it plays mainstream adult rock during the daytime and specialist rock, metal and indie after 7pm each night. The aim is to be completely committed to ensuring all of the audience are provided with new and alternative forms of rock music, with presenters trusted to self select the music they play using their own expertise during specialist programming. Most commercial stations signpost themselves very clearly in the marketplace. It works.
And whilst few were aware of 6 Music’s existence, ultimately the 6 Music troubles appear to be cost related. It would seem entirely possible to make some cuts, tighten up the team and at little cost to the stations ideology. It would naturally mean reducing the number of presenters, live events and so on – but in the interests of providing variety and value for money for tax payers, both 6 Music and Asian Network have never been more important.