Category Archives: radio

03 Dec

The Richmond Park Slaughter

O joy, joy and more joy! Here’s a treat rarer than any blue moon: A radio interviewer with brains, articulate and sharp enough to ask the killer follow-up question to any politician’s fumbled reply. They can’t do this on The Today Programme. But is it perhaps not can’t but won’t for fear that such an intelligent approach might pierce the fog of cliche in which the BBC usually manages to conceal its modus operandi of obfuscation and prejudice?

Sarah Olney, the newly-elected MP for Richmond Park, came on TalkRadio to be interviewed by the very sharp Julia Hartley-Brewer. Julia was noteworthy among radio journalists for her ability to think sequentially and to speak in sentences. From the very beginning, she was on top of her game – which is more than you could say for the flaky Ms Olney.

She began, “When are you going to hold the second bye-election?”

The flummoxed Olney stayed flummoxed.

“I mean, you want a rerun of the referendum on our membership of the EU. That was won by the Leave campaigners with a bigger majority than you got.”

Waffle punctuated by squirming silence.

“Fewer than 50% of the Richmond electorate voted for you. Leave got 54%. But you want a second referendum. Why not a rerun of this bye-election?”

“There wasn’t a clear result to the referendum.”

“Yes there was!”

A very long silence.

“If you can’t answer a few simple questions, people might wonder if you’re up to the job of being their MP.”

An even longer silence.

Enter Olney’s spin-doctor:

“We have to go.”

“No you don’t!”

“Sarah has another interview to do.”

“But how can she? This time was booked with us”

Exit Ms Olney, pursued by her quavering minder. Leaving Julia to speak the closing soliloquy:

“She doesn’t feel she’s up to these questions – which is a bit of a shame, isn’t it?”

20 Jul

Just a little point, Ms Klein…

Something has gone very wonky with the BBC Promenade Concerts series. These summer concerts used to consist entirely of music, but now they contain material which is hostile to music..

For example, this summer when you tune-in to the Proms, you might find you’re hearing “The Ibiza dance party” presented by the “disc-jockey” Pete Tong. This is billed as “a musical homage to Ibiza, home to hedonistic dance clubs for twenty-five years or more.” If that is not quite to your taste, you can catch a RadioIXtra Prom programmed by the BBC’s “urban music station” and featuring the “rappers” Wretch 32, Stormzy and Krept & Konan in “a grime symphony.”

I suggest that this programming amounts to false pretences. The Proms, since their founding by Henry Wood in 1895, were always meant to provide musical excellence in a variety of styles – from Monteverdi to Anton Webern – but to exclude stuff which isn’t music at all.

You are perhaps offended by my outrageous elitism? Certainly, Suzy Klein, a presenter on Radio Three, disapproves of me. She says, “Classical music listeners who criticise the diverse line-up are self-elected snobs and scaremongers.”

I own up: I am an elitist – because I’d rather be an elitist than a mediocratist.

It is said – nay, bleated – “everyone has a right to their (sic) own taste.” Indeed they have. But that does not mean that everyone’s taste is as good as everyone else’s. As there is literature, to be contrasted with pulp fiction, so there are standards in music: and it is precisely the great composers who determine what these standards are.

Ms Klein adds, “Fondness for classical and grime genres is not mutually exclusive. I love dancing to an addictive club anthem as much as I adore listening in the stillness of a concert hall to a Brahms symphony.”

With the utmost respect, Ms Klein, that is not the point. Of course it is logically – though not, of course, aesthetically and critically – possible to enjoy both Brahms and “an addictive club anthem.” But we do not look for these things in the same place.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask for bread, will he give him a stone?

The fact is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of radio and TV stations which provide pop and rock music 24/7. The rubbish is inescapable. Every TV documentary, every sports programme, every Hollywood movie, is stuffed full of it. Why is it too much to ask that music lovers should be allowed one sane repository – Radio Three in general and the Proms in particular – which remains free from this noise?

Ms Klein says that, because she likes both Brahms and “an addictive club anthem,” that it’s acceptable to feature them both in the same concert series.

No it isn’t. I’ll tell you what, Suzy, you wouldn’t ever get that the other way round: I mean, you’re never going to hear a Brahms symphony on a rock music station.

So, if there are indeed “self-elected snobs and scaremongers,” there are also self-elected oiks and philistines.

Filth is everywhere.

08 Nov

Wimmins’ Hour

I try to listen to Woman’s Hour whenever I can for, beyond the political chit-chat of everyday, this programme keeps me in touch with the things that really matter, things that are dear to a woman’s heart. The other week, for instance, the programme fearlessly exposed the failure of so many of our local councils to provide adequate lavatory facilities for the transgendered. There’s a lot about rape and the rumours of rape. Intense debate about the 5:2 diet, or the stone-age diet or whatever Manichean foodie obsession happens to be in vogue. Wall-to-wall celebs, it goes without saying. Inanities and banalities by the bucket load: the soap operas of course, by the side of which real life is a mere shadow. Historical novelists whose own linguistic register is out of synch with the period they write about: Hilary Mantel, that disgorger and forger of the 16th century, is ever popular.

But the programme’s fondest obsession is pop music. Today, for example, Jane Garvey confessed she had been “weak at the knees” during her interviewing an aging punkster called Blondie and her side-kick, Chris. They play you blasts of the “music” unfortunately, but that’s not the worst part. The most sickening part is the way the Woman’s Hour wimmin go all gooey over this trash. Rock music has its place. It is for teenagers, to allow them to imagine they’re being cool and anti-establishment during that most uncomfortable part of growing up. Most do grow up, but many alas live on to stretch the folly of their youth to be the shame of age – as G.K. Chesterton put it. For goodness sake, gooey Garvey is fifty years old! Shouldn’t she have got past going weak at the knees at the sights and sounds of the past it perpetrators of audible filth and learnt to go weak at the knees at such as the Beethoven late string quartets?

I will keep listening though. What cheaper or easier way is there of keeping up with the sub-theatrical absurdities of the meedja world. Oh hell, if we really do get the media we deserve, then God help us!

I can’t help thinking that things would be better if the wimmin – all with impeccable leftie CVs – reverted to being women, or even ladies, and told us the secrets of jam-making and demonstrated the creation of net curtains by the forgotten art of croquet.

Those were the days, alongside Mrs Dale’s Diary, Top of the Form, Journey into Space and, new every morning, Housewives’ Choice. It was a far, far better thing they did than now they ever do.