Monday, August 17, 2009

Malcolm Laycock: Not going quietly

Malcolm Laycock has let himself slide away from the embrace of Radio 2, slamming doors as he goes:

"Listeners are up in arms about Radio 2 and its policy towards the older age group. Some say, 'They're attacking the music.' What you have is show after show, hour after hour of white rock music," Laycock told the Mail on Sunday.

"It's just soft rock on Radio 2 all day."

Whoever would have thought that someone with a grudge against the BBC would find a sympathetic shoulder at the Mail On Sunday, eh?

Is he right, though? At this moment, Matthew Bannister is playing Paloma Faith - who self-identifies as soul; the playlist does feature some soft rock, but also Mica Paris and Beverley Knight. And that's just the playlist, which you'd imagine would be more contemporary. Besides, people in their twenties when soft rock ruled the world will now be in their sixties - shouldn't Radio 2 reflect their tastes as well as those of people in their eighties?

And if the audience is so upset, where are all the listeners coming from?

Oh, but it turns out being popular is wrong:
After Radio 2 won an award, they put up a sign above the door saying, 'The most listened to station in the UK.'

"That is wrong. That's the job of a commercial station. I think the BBC has gone off the rails. It's a great big oil tanker that is careering in the wrong direction.

"It's not existing to serve the public any more. It's existing to grow bigger and bigger, and for managers to earn more and more."

Yes, getting bigger and bigger by throwing out old Radio 2 names like Terry Wogan to make room for the far more popular Terry Wogan. I mean, if you were an "old geezer", where would you go on the station now? Besides the breakfast show every day.

Laycock doesn't, sadly, show his working of how you grow more and more popular without serving the public. but I'm sure he had thought this through.

The funny thing is, this isn't really about the music, is it, Malcolm?
He had also asked for a £14,000 pay rise, something that he said reflected the changing nature of his role, acting as both presenter and producer on the show.

"It was a full-time job," said Laycock. "They were paying me just over £24,000 for 52 programmes, 52 hours of radio. It is the same average pay for a student leaving college."

Now, I'm not so foolish as to believe that making an hour of radio a week takes just an hour (which would put Malcolm on a plumber's rate of £461 an hour), but - frankly - if it's a full-time job for you to prepare sixty minutes of programming, all of which appears to have been off gramophone records, you might not be in the right job.

Even allowing a six to one ratio of content to preparation, Malcolm's payday comes out at something like £120,000 a year, pro-rata, which would be a pretty sweet payday for most people.

Malcolm has also been a little disingenuous with his figure of student earnings - £24k is the average wage offered for graduate positions, but since many graduates don't find work in specific graduate roles, the average earnings for a new graduate following completion of a first degree is actually £19,300. For a full-time job, not a "full-time" job. [source: Association of Graduate Recruiters/Higher Education Statistics Agency]

It's also worth noting that Malcolm was freelance, and as such his payment isn't directly comparable with a paid employee in the first place.

But... this is about music, isn't it? Not the money at all.


Douglas Kleinhans - WJUB said...

Malcolm did not just appeal to those in their eighties. I am in my 50's and have my own Sunday night program in the States. People like Malcolm and Russell Davies were always a great inspiration to people like me who love this music.

I have found that it takes 8 to 10 hours to produce my program, but I concede that it lacks the depth of background information that both Malcolm and Russell provide. The program is my second job (I am a full time engineer) so my time is limited. Malcolm was always a great source of infomration often causing me to look into music I had not played before. He will be greatly missed.

As for BBC2's format. I am sorry about the change. They have become less interesting when they play the same thing as everyone else.

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