'Specialist Music' On BBC Local Radio Campaigns News 8th February 2011

All the latest news, info, rumour, gossip, comment and more concerning the Save DJ Ritu's A World in London show on BBC London and Save' Folkwaves' on BBC Radio Derby campaigns!

(This article was originally published in the News section of the Other World Music page of Rainlore's World of Music on 8th February, 2011.)

Save AWiL Logo


Save Folkwaves Logo

Bravely the campaigns to have DJ Ritu's A World in London and Mick & Lester's Folkwaves programmes (along with the other 'specialist music' shows that were axed) reinstated on BBC Local Radio soldier on! These campaigns are more than just about the individual programmes, they are also about preserving diversity and 'specialist music' programming itself on our airwaves that are more and more polluted by mindless, mind-numbing talk shows of one inane kind or another and dull mainstream and MOR music. These campaigns hope to keep the universal blandness that is threatening the majority of radio broadcasting in general and BBC Local Radio specifically, a little bit at bay.

To paraphrase the opener of a certain 1990s cult sci-fi television series, the Save' Folkwaves' on BBC Radio Derby and the Save DJ Ritu's A World in London show on BBC London campaigns may well be our last, best hope for diversity on local radio.

Out of curiosity, I kept half of half an ear on the fifth installment of The Sunny & Shay Show that replaced A World in London, last Saturday night, February 5th, between 8 and 10 pm while carrying on with site maintenance and listening to some more enjoyable music on the computer. At least this ensured that my hearing appendages were kept reasonably clear of the faecal matter that emanated from the radio - alas, the S&S Show can hardly be described in other terms and was as appalling as ever. Among the things that assaulted my senses and sensibilities were a seemingly endless and certainly senseless discussion of the subject of women and cars (and, to a lesser degree, men and cars). If you want cars and regard your car as some sort of penis extension, go to Top Gear, you're better catered for there. Otherwise, the damned things are just a means of getting from A to B, and all that matters is that they do so safely and efficiently, and in reasonable comfort. What state they are otherwise in certainly is of no interest whatsoever here. (Yes, mine have always been bangers and hardly ever got cleaned or washed or whatever. Don't want to know, ok? Life's too short.)

Another very peculiar discussion concerned - it seemed - one partner loving the other more than the other them, with, as usual, Mr. and Mrs. G at the centre of things (who else?). Sebastian Merrick provided the following quote, and comment, on the AWiL Facebook page. 'Sunny..I think you love me more than I love you' (trousers, wears, who?). Indeed, the answer to that has been all too obvious for a while - metro-sexual man abandoned his trousers along with body hair and the acquisition of 'beauty' products...

Sebestian also was astute in reminding me of Mr. G's (no, not Ali G - he's got brains!) very Freudian slit... oops, slip, when introducing their studio guest band, 'Botown live on the BBC As...BBC London 94.9.' Well, you can't really blame Sunny G for that one, when Saturday evenings on BBC London have come to sound and feel like the Asian Network.

Now Botown (from Bollywood and town) really did catch my ear, very painfully so! Interesting concept, but 'nil point' in the musicality department. They really stood out for not even being able to play their instruments half-decently. Especially the sax/flute player - worst I've heard in a long while if not ever! I could blow my nose more musically and more in tune. (I wonder if what he did constitutes saxual abuse?) Not to mention the lead vocalist. It was really quite difficult to tell who in that band was flat and who sharp, and time-keeping wasn't a strong point with them either. I really don't like to pass bad remarks about musicians, don't even like to give bad reviews where I can avoid them with a bit of diplomacy (though inevitably, had to give a few bad or half-bad ones in my time but try to be at least constructive). Sadly, Botown are clearly beyond hope and beyond redemption, and somebody ought to have told them so long ago methinks. How they could get past a professional production team of any radio show is beyond me.

Feedback Folkwaves by Eloise01

Meanwhile, last Friday, February 4th witnessed Radio 4's Feedback addressing the numerous complaints they doubtless had concerning the programme changes on BBC Local Radio. DJ Ritu's A World in London was mentioned, but the main focus of this particular segment of Feedback was Folkwaves. In the main, this consisted of Chris Sweeney interviewing BBC Radio Derby's head Stuart Thomas. This segment, courtesy of Ralph Jordan, can be played back with the player at left. It lasts 6:12. Paxman this wasn't, but still a good effort and Thomas certainly didn't come off too well anyway. A transcript is also available on the Folkwaves campaign's Facebook discussion board, courtesy of Irene Shettle. (The latter excludes Stuart Thomas' frequent 'ums and errs.')

Yesterday, Monday 7th February, saw the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at The Brewery in the City of London, and a protest was held outside the premises by the Folkwaves campaign as planned. Flyers, which also referenced the AWiL campaign as well as other axed programmes, were handed out to participating artists and the invited guests from 3 pm (a medal to Ralphie Jordan for valiantly holding out from so early on!). Although the Folkwaves contingent was small, it certainly was highly effective, and the ranks were swelled by members of the AWiL campaign who attended in solidarity and to also highlight the AWiL cause. The AWiL contingent certainly 'drummed up' a beautiful noise thanks to Mosi Conde (of whom more here shortly!) and Nsimba and their West African folk drumming. All in all, the protest was deemed to have been a huge success in generating greater awareness of the cause especially among folk performers attending the show.

As for the Folk Awards show itself, which I had to follow in the comfort of home, it's probably a case of the less said the better. As seems to be the nature of such events, it still appears totally ruled by that old dinosaur known as 'the recording industry,' as well as seeming nauseatingly self-congratulatory and at least bordering on the mutual ego-masturbatory. Several performances were notably lack-lustre - with the equally notable exception of particularly Jon Boden's Bellowhead - and this was not aided by the somewhat uneven sound engineering. Given that the performers were all seasoned professionals, there can be no excuse for the overall poor standard of performance though. Given this, it was just as well the event was not televised live and the live performances are available only via the 'red button' (on digital services) and, if I'm not mistaken, online via the BBC iPlayer. A notable, and in my view unforgivable, omission were the sensational The Unthanks. Instead, we had to endure a carefully harmonised rendition of a shanty (South Australia) by The Fisherman's Friends. Not what I would still recognise as a shanty, and something that strikes me as deeply disrespectful to the tradition and more especially and importantly, to the poor sods who had to sing these work songs to squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of them under the most appalling forced labour conditions.

Tonight, Tuesday 8th February, another Folkwaves campaign Action Group Meeting is taking place at 7 pm at The Flowerpot pub in Derby.

If you haven't done so yet, and you care about 'specialist music' in any way, shape or form, and about 'specialist music' programming on BBC Local Radio and diversity in programming, then please join either or preferably both of these excellent campaigns NOW! You can find out more about them and join in via these links:

Save' Folkwaves' on BBC Radio Derby on Facebook
Save DJ Ritu's A World in London show on BBC London on Facebook
Save AWiL Blog
On twitter
Save AWiL Online Petition - please sign this petition. It is very simple to register and sign, and the whole process literally only takes a couple of minutes! Thank you.

While not directly relating to these campaigns, there is certainly a connection that illustrates the widening general threat to 'specialist music' that we seem to be seeing today in the (Scottish) Highland Council's decision to remove funding for one of the (if not the) most important schools of traditional music in Scotland, The Plockton School of Music. A Facebook support group has been set up and your support for this would also be much appreciated.


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