Tuesday, April 02, 2013

"You can have any record you like as long as it's on this list"

Radio Two asked its listeners to choose which of its 100 most-played albums it liked best. This is a curious form of polling. It's like asking Dagenham and Redbridge supporters to name their favourite Chelsea player.

It's the only way radio can work. Radio can't actually respond to people's requests because that might mean going off-message and then where would they be?

They used to run a Sunday night request show on Capital. Listeners would call in and banter with Dr Fox, he'd say "what do you want to hear?", they'd name a record and he'd have it lined up to play straight away.

That's slick, I thought. It's also, coincidentally, on the playlist.

It was then explained to me that although that show was being broadcast live, everything you were hearing had been recorded a few minutes earlier. This gave them the space to tell the caller which of three records they could choose, stage the fake conversation and then tidy up any loose ends in time for broadcast a few minutes later. At which point they would be doing the same with somebody else.

The radio man looked at me as if to say "what did you think happened, you poor child?"


  1. When I switched it on yesterday morning, they were celebrating All Things Must Pass. Nice surprise. Not what I was expecting.

  2. You know, I've struggled and struggled with that opening analogy... and I still can't see why you'd think there are two teams involved.

    Isn't it actually like Dagenham and Redbridge saying, vote for your favourite player out of all those we've put out? Regardless of other teams?

    Which seems a perfectly reasonable question to ask its followers - or, indeed, those of Radio 2.

  3. My issue is less to do with the false choice (I think the 100 albums were supposed to be the all time best selling for what it's worth), but more that the result is somehow considered relevant beyond the confines of Radio 2.

    There's plenty of coverage of this today in the press. And the result of this poll got mentioned on the BBC News website. Yet the Classic Radio Hall of Fame result, also broadcast over Easter, didn't.

    Neither are news.

    Self-selecting voters using a pre-selected list isn't really much more than something for the radio station to talk about itself.

  4. Once chatted to Radio 1 DJ who did a "guess the star sign of the caller" shtick.

    It worked the same way - the researcher would ask the caller what star sign they were and the caller would happily play along because they enjoyed being on the radio.

    But sometimes they wouldn't and the occasional time the DJ got it right, the reaction from the audience would be so good, it would sell all the other times.

  5. Yet another sign of the swingeing cuts: even the short lists have been made shorter.

    But hasn't it always been thus? (I speak as someone who doesn't give a flying). But David, I would be interested, now that you've brought it up, how many platters were from 1971 AD?

  6. Ahhh! I can be a test case. I am a Dagenham & Redbridge supporter. The answer on behalf of all 1200 of us is of course John Terry as his equally controversial brother Paul played in the daggers midfield for several years.