We fear change
Danny Baker's arrival at Radio One should have been a triumph. And, in many ways, it was. Baker was fresh from the old Radio Five, quitting just a couple of months ahead of the network closing down to make way for Five Live - "when I suggested I might be going to Radio One, they weren't that bothered...". Although he hadn't managed to single-handedly save the station, he did at least pull it together to such a position that it was able to live out its final days in some sort of dignity. The "Morning Edition - and stick with it" baseball caps notwithstanding.
However, Baker was given a tricky beat - the old DLT slot, still warm from the departing dudgeon of the beared one, and probably the slot with the most conservative of all Radio One programmes. Gone was the snooker and the reassuring tales of life on a home counties farm with a Swedish wife, in came callers putting on rollerskates two sizes too small zooming over bubble wrap and a cast that included a Radio Five newsreader, the former editor of the NME and a man who sounded, well, working class.
The sudden shift in style was something of a leap - certainly bigger than Matthew Banister's other changes, such as the gentle fading out of Simon Bates to make room for Simon Mayo. In fact, Baker admitted to Mojo that he didn't even have a radio style as such: he just did what he thought radio was - a lot of talking with records plucked from a pile on the basis of what you want to hear next.
If Danny Baker is a bit of a acquired taste, the strongest thing on the menu was The University of Turmoil. Over the course of the programme, Danny Kelly would select images from that day's newspapers, usually of alarmed or worried looking people or animals, stick them on pieces of paper with the word "Turmoil" written on them - maybe with an inappropriate headline added on for good measure. The last page would deviate from the formula with the appearance of the phrase "WE FEAR CHANGE". Towards the end of the programme, Kelly would pass over the folder and - seeing his handiwork for the first time - Baker would attempt to describe the contents to the audience, hoping to get through the feature before his head hurt too much from laughing.
You had to be there. It was inspired.
Although, admittedly, not everyone who was there agreed.
Baker became the focus for most of those upset by the new sound of the station - quickly losing the Sunday slot, and eventually losing the Saturday one as well. However, by taking most of the heat generated over the new schedules, Baker effectively bought the space for the other changes to bed down and saved Radio One in a way that Chris Moyles could only dream of.
The University Of Turmoil resurfaced - just once - a couple of months ago on Baker's BBC Radio London show, for the first time in over a decade. It still is bloody inspired.
[Celebrating 40 years of Radio One: Radio One More Time]
Saturday, August 25, 2007
We fear change