The BBC launch a new radio station.
March 11, 2002 4:47 PM   Subscribe

The BBC launch a new radio station. For too long, an entire demographic has been excluded from British radio. That is, contemporary and classic rock music that isn't exclusively chart oriented. It's only available on digital radio and streaming over the internet. So far it looks very promising. As a public sector broadcaster, this is exactly the sort of thing the Beeb should be doing - filling in the gaps left by commercial stations. Enjoy.
posted by salmacis (28 comments total)
I just found this today, too. It's a good mix of music, but did you also notice the many 70s and 80s pop culture figures who have been hired as DJs?

Tom Robinson (Tom Robinson Band), Suggs (Madness), Phill Jupitus (aka Porky the Poet, stand-up/video director/omnipresent funny guy), Craig Charles (Red Dwarf), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), and stalwart broadcaster Bob freakin' Harris from The Old Grey Whistle Test as The Beaver. See the whole list here.

(Man, I feel old).
posted by maudlin at 5:41 PM on March 11, 2002

I've been waiting for days now; woke up at six today to catch the seven a.m. launch; but Real Audio screwed up on me. I listen to Radio 4 and the World Service all day through their Radio Guide(type "BBC" into the search box)but they haven't yet included Radio 6. And the direct "listen" link just freezes on me. It's frustrating, to say the least. Do you know of any whizz-bang way of connecting, salmacis?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:43 PM on March 11, 2002

Tom Robinson and Bruce Dickinson?! Cool!
"2-4-6-8 Motorway" was one of the best straight-ahead rock songs of the last 2 decades, and Bruce and the boys are great representatives of smart heavy metal(who else has done a credible metal cover of a Coleridge poem?)

Sounds like the Beeb is taking a step in the right direction.
posted by jonmc at 5:54 PM on March 11, 2002

I admit, clicking the 'listen' button didn't work for me either, with Mozilla. I used IE to start the streaming and saved the URL as one of my RealPlay favourites. In future, I can just start RealPlay and select it from there. You should be able to type the Location into RealPLay:
posted by salmacis at 5:56 PM on March 11, 2002

Hopefully in a while they'll use Ogg Vorbis. And does anybody know what did they played first?
posted by hugsnkisses at 5:56 PM on March 11, 2002

Burn Baby Burn by Ash was the first song.
posted by maudlin at 5:58 PM on March 11, 2002

I listened to it as it went on the air this morning. They didn't read my email, they were ignoring requests, their news updates were meager, their "music news" updates were made far too often and sounded like rip-and-read wire copy, and all the little segments and gags seemed sterile and prepackaged. To be honest, except for the accents it could have been any Clear Channel station in America.
posted by aaron at 5:58 PM on March 11, 2002

... except for the accents it could have been any Clear Channel station in America.

Uh-huh, except for that little thing called a playlist. Granted, it's not bleeding edge, and I could do without Alanis and Sheryl Crow, but if you could please list the Clear Channel stations that play White Stripes, Joey Ramone, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Ian Dury, Badly Drawn Boy, and Gomez, among others, I'll see if I can pick them up on the web.

Now you might have a point re the announcers' styles and non-music content. What I have heard so far (Tom Robinson) didn't sound sterile, but I haven't caught the rest of the schedule yet.
posted by maudlin at 6:22 PM on March 11, 2002

That they have a playlist at all is the problem. It's still a prepackaged, preselected, limited list of specific songs by specific artists, about 500-550 by my count. That's not much bigger, if at all, than the average US classic rock commercial station's list. Perhaps it's a slightly more eclectic playlist than most US stations would have, but you're not going to care about that after the first few weeks; hearing the same White Stripes song 15 times in the span of a few days is going to be just as annoying as hearing the same Backstreet Boys single 15 times in the span of a few days.

I hope I'm wrong; I hope they're just starting slow. But considering how few people must be listening to them at this point, I was really expecting something a lot more daring, more interactive.
posted by aaron at 6:30 PM on March 11, 2002

I hope you're wrong too :-) Here's why I'm still optimistic:

1) The playlist songs aren't the only ones to be played: take a look at the running order for any of the shows. The playlist songs are the raisins, not the butter tart.
2) The playlist should be updated every Monday.
3) I doubt I'll hear the White Stripes 15 times in a few days becaue they have only been played once so far today.

But keep leaning on them to be more daring and interactive. I still think that what they're offering is a step beyond what's available on practically any commercial station.

(If you do want something a little more varied, try 2Kool4Radio. Lots of free-form music sets, a pile of specialty shows, and some cool features, such as a couple of major DJ sets by The Avalanches).
posted by maudlin at 6:56 PM on March 11, 2002

I would love to listen to this but ever since Real One came out, Real has been really irritating to use. Takes over my Audio CDs (even after instructing it to not do that), and starting up in the background.
posted by riffola at 7:07 PM on March 11, 2002

aaron: You'd have to come to Britain to realise just how bad commercial radio (and Radio 1) is in this country. Pure chart crap bollocks. I had hopes for Virgin Radio, but even they decided there was more money in mainstream stuff. When you look at it that way, Radio 6 is a breath of fresh air. As to the presenting style, I suspect that much is an example of how Britain and America generally does things differently. (From my experience of listening to American stations over the web, my preference is for the British style.)

riffola: I specifically didn't download Real One, as I suspected something like that would happen. Real software is a big steaming pile of crap, but unfortunately, it's pretty much necessary to have one of their players.
posted by salmacis at 11:25 PM on March 11, 2002

Salmacis: cheers! Woke up, typed in the URL and got John Lennon's "Instant Karma", which it was. Great. First dedication on 6 Music. Thanks!

I'll be adding to the discussion as soon as I've copped a bit.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:23 AM on March 12, 2002

I listened to it for most of yesterday, despite having much better things I could have been doing. First off I have to say that I loved it, but I have serious misgivings and can see its attractions waning very quickly.
Being the wrong side of 40 the programming all day was a nostalgia fest for me. It was great to hear stuff I wouldn't usually hear on the radio. It was great to have that whole Clash retrospective thing running all day. But by the end of it I felt like screaming "tell me something I dont know!" .
As Maudlin has pointed out the whole enterprise is filled up with survivors from the late seventies and failed D.J's from the same period. There was an air of slightly soiled older folk rummaging through their garages and rediscovering their youth .And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; as I say I loved it. It will have to innovate and inspire a bit more if it wants to keep me as a listener though.
A couple of things really did grate. Phil Jupitus' 6 musings were a deeply unfunny rip off of Letterman. All British comics who get their own show on radio or T.V seem to have do this and it is never funny; Letterman should send them all a cease and desist letter.
The afternoon guy was a real old style D.J: an overtalkative personality witha gimmick filled programme. Battle of the bands was / is pointless, stupid and Mayoish, I thought this station had intelligent adults in mind.
The news was just embarrassing. Anyone can get news from countless sources at any time of the day. If they aren't going to take it seriously why do it at all?
Still it is a very welcome addition and Tom Robinson was excellent.
Incidentally, I had no problems with my connection yesterday but keep losing it today.
As I write the Sterophonics have just followed the Jam. As I went to bed last night Oasis were on. I am losing patience. Radio Bloke anyone?
posted by Fat Buddha at 1:47 AM on March 12, 2002

Riffola: I installed RealOne when it was first available and it messed up everything. Uninstalling it wasn't easy either(MetaFilter came to the rescue, but I can't find the thread)but, once it was uninstalled and I'd reinstalled the standard Real player, everything has just been fine. I Use their Radio Tuner and haven't had any problems in months.

I know it's cool to trash Real, but I'm very happy with it!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:23 AM on March 12, 2002

Here it is(please scroll down). Hope it helps!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:26 AM on March 12, 2002

the sooner they move to ogg vorbis encoding, the better - I now simply refuse to use real player in any shape or format, too many harrowing memories..
posted by Mossy at 4:35 AM on March 12, 2002

I listened to it for most of the day too, and I was pretty impressed. Even if the perfect station would have no playlist, it's still cool that the BBC is doing this. It's what Radio 1 should have been all along. And it's especially welcome given that Xfm has been going downhill for the past year - maybe now they'll have to improve. I only hope that it doesn't send Xfm out of business.
Now if only they could take over Radio 1's frequencies...
posted by Gaz at 5:31 AM on March 12, 2002

Ehhh so I live in the UK and hear about this new BBC radio station via MetaFilter. Hmmm they're not pushing it hard are they?

Sounds OK so far - after couple of hours of listening, but sounds decidely down market, good playlist, iffy presenters. But I'm willing to give it a chance.
posted by snowgoon at 5:45 AM on March 12, 2002

salmacis.. Radio 1 is 'all chart crap'? Really?

You have obviously only bothered to listen between 6am and 6pm. At all other times, Radio 1 is probably the most diverse station in the country. For a start, you have John Peel. John Peel plays the most diverse selection of music imaginable.. you then have 'One World' many nights which showcase experimental electronica.. and what about 'The Rock Show'.. they play a lot of new and crazy stuff from the US that wouldn't normally get airplay in the UK. They also play some of the classics.

So, your insight into Radio 1 is definitely wrong. They don't just play 'all chart crap' thank you very much!
posted by wackybrit at 7:20 AM on March 12, 2002

Its finally cool to see them playing stuff like Copper Green
posted by stbalbach at 7:31 AM on March 12, 2002

wackybrit: OK, take your point. But the fact is that all the decent music gets pushed to odd timeslots, and appears to be a sop to people who like non-chart music, rather than a focus of the station's output.
posted by salmacis at 7:55 AM on March 12, 2002

Off-topic: Last week I heard John Peel say on his World Service programme(only 30 minutes but poppier, similar to his younger days)that in twenty years he had never received a single letter!

I've been listening to 6 Music and I have to agree it's for ex-hipsters who grew up on punk and new wave music. It's great until you realize you have every single record they play. Which somehow seems...wrong.

I love it! And the sound quality is better than Five Live even. Of course - forgive me this - it helps tremendously if you're a foreigner and don't have to pay the license fee!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:40 AM on March 12, 2002

I heard John Peel say on his World Service programme ... that in twenty years he had never received a single letter!

An awful lot of tapes, though.
posted by Grangousier at 8:56 AM on March 12, 2002

Once I worked out how to listen - the "how to listen" page there says "you can listen from this site" *but doesn't provide a link* - I heard one song and five minutes of chattering. The chattering wasn't quite as inane as that of BBC Radio 1, but the fact that it was there was enough to ruin it as a music station.
posted by godidog at 9:54 AM on March 12, 2002

I listen to Radio 1 most of the time, although when I'm in London I prefer to stick to XFM or Kiss (no other choices here in Lincolnshire). Radio 1 doesn't play anything that great during the day, but Sara Cox is sexy to listen to, and Chris Moyles is hilarious. Admittedly Mark and Lard are cr*p, but you can turn over to Radio 2 and listen to Clive Anderson. Radio 3 also plays some interesting stuff from time to time.

I'd say our radio station choice isn't too bad in the UK. It's excellent around London, but country-wide you have Radio 1 through 5, BBC LocalCountyWhereverYouAre and Classic FM. Most regional independent stations (thinking BRMB or Capital here) are naff, but hey, that's their job.

Can't wait till DAB tuners are cheaper.. you'll be able to get another handful of national channels then (Virgin, Core, forgot the rest). I feel sorry for the Americans.. how many channels can they get nationally? None when I last checked (please correct me if I'm wrong)
posted by wackybrit at 10:09 AM on March 12, 2002

All this talk of streaming IP audio and DAB yet no-one has mentioned that you can also get this new station via cable TV. Telewest carry it where I live in North London and I bet NTL will too. Not a portable source of course but then nor is most streaming IP of viable quality. Heard Greg Dyke (D-G of the BBC) on R4 spouting about how obvious it is that DAB will become ubiquitous. I'm not so sure, myself.
posted by Dan Brilliant at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2002

I feel sorry for the Americans.. how many channels can they get nationally? None when I last checked (please correct me if I'm wrong)


When these guys go national, it'll be 201.
posted by geneablogy at 6:37 PM on March 12, 2002

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