Tuesday, April 12, 2005


We don't want to knock a fine-sounding idea, but Radio One's introduction of a new playlist category sounds to be like the introduction of extra codification where none is needed.

The 1-Upfront list will contain five songs from "emerging" artists (we don't know, but we'd guess it means whatever they damn well want it to mean). These five tracks will be guaranteed between two and four plays across the week.

The principle is good - guaranteed slots for new artists, hurray - but the question has to be: why, exactly, does Radio One need to have this sort of Soviet-era system?

Radio One head of music and live events Alex Jones-Donelly said: “In Radio One’s daytime output, we’ve never got the opportunity to play all the records we’d like to play."

But... but... if you'd like to play them, and they're worth playing, why aren't you playing them anyway? Have Virgin broken in and stolen them? Is there a secret BBC ban on playing certain records unless they're on a list? The only thing that, surely, stops Radio One playing what they want is the existence of a playlist at all. Trust your DJs, trust your producers, Radio One: don't introduce another mini-playlist - just scrap the list altogether. Then you can play all the records you'd like to play. All day. And forever.

If you haven't read The Nation's Favourite, by the way, you really should.


Robin said...

Of course, for a while in the early 80s there was no playlist at all, so Trevor Dann could get away with his bonkers-but-successful "use" of the DLT show to push the music *he* liked, meaning that Travis became the unlikely champion of Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime" and didn't play much Shakin' Stevens. Even in the early 90s things were so disorganised that Gary Davies could play a record, only to have Steve Wright play the same record two minutes later (allegedly).

Music radio generally seems to have become more rigidly formatted - as far as most commercial radio is concerned the least said the better, but Radio 2 is far better now than it was before 1998 when it didn't have anything even vaguely resembling a playlist. As far as current Radio 1 is concerned, though, I'm inclined to agree with you.

simon h b said...

But surely the pre-1998 problem with Radio 2 was less its lack of a playlist, more its fear of recent and new music?

Robin said...

True enough - it was more of a coincidence that Radio 2 got better when the playlist was introduced; it wasn't specifically *because* there was a playlist. And it has never become as heavily playlist-dominated as Radio 1 is.

Simon said...

Those 'new emerging artists' in full, then (via http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/chart/playlist.shtml) - Audio Bullys (couple of previous playlisted singles), Mint Royale (Sexiest Man In Jamaica, Don't Falter), System Of A Down (I remember Radcliffe taking the piss, so they must have had daytime playlistage), Maximo Park (OK, I'll give them that) and... Stevie Wonder!

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