Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why GLR can never be allowed to happen again

Went to a party last night to mark twenty-five years since Radio London became GLR. There was a good turn-out, as is usually the case with GLR functions. Nobody got paid more than petty cash for whatever they did there and yet they still feel more loyalty to its memory than they do to most of their other jobs.

Trevor Dann was interviewing people for his radio podcast. He asked me if I thought there was any chance of something like it existing in the future. I mumbled something about it being unlikely and how you're more likely to find the spirit of GLR living on in a million websites than on any radio station.

In classic fashion I was halfway to Oxford Circus before I realised what I should have said:
Trevor, if I've learned one thing through my dealings with radio in the last ten years it is that the people running it are determined to ensure that nothing like GLR can ever be allowed to happen again - and that determination is just as strong in the BBC as it is in the independent sector. No matter how they dress it up, radio is immeasurably more controlled today than it has been at any point in its history. That's the way the people running it like it. Let's hope they know what they're doing. Now, was it recording?


  1. The spirit of stations like GLR still lives on in many, but not all, of the 200+ community radio stations broadcasting on FM up and down the UK. There's still a demand for people who don't like the BBC or the major commercial players.

  2. Pertinent to today's Danny Baker show on R5L. In the middle of an entertaining interview with Ronnie Wood and Mick Taylor they cut to F1 qualifying in India! Wood and Taylor decided to leave. I'm sure many listeners did the same. This over-controlled pedantic inclusivity disregards what the audience might actually want to hear - or are enjoying - and is becoming unbearable.

  3. Anonymous12:09 pm

    A large problem with R5L is that it constantly feels the need to justify its "L" - ie to suddenly jump to live events. Over on R4, there'd be no problem at all with having a schedule which jumped from the reminiscences of old Stones to the latest from the sporting subcontinent - but it would be scheduled to do so, with the first programme designed to come to a natural conclusion rather than leaving it dead. Presumably the thinking is that if some people switch off at that point, then others will switch on.

    Put another way, Five Live is caught between doing two things the BBC does well: cover live events and produce properly thought-through content. That will always be an uneasy balance because live events frequently refuse to fit a schedule. That's where editors have judgement calls which can't possibly please all the people all the time: would it have been acceptable to jump to India if, say, there had been a life-threatening crash? Some would say not - but that's the balance the editors have to find.