In Review: RADIO ONE. part 2 - afternoon
- Mark Radcliffe »
Just over seven hours in, my journey through the strange world of 'wunnerful' Radio 1 (FM!) continues... and continues... (pray for me)
Mark Radcliffe ~ 1.00pm - 3.00pm
1.00: The opening music strikes up before Kylie’s voice is heard to say: “Relax girls - they’re ugly“
Mark Radcliffe’s first appearance on Radio 1 was presenting ‘Out On Blue Six‘, an hour a week show where he got to play a mixture of obscure psychedelia and space-rock. He was hired after his Radio 5 show, ’Hit The North’, which showcased Northern bands, became a cult hit with students.
Fairly soon Radcliffe and his sidekick, the ’hapless boy’ Lard (ex-Fall bassist Mark Riley), were ensconced in the ’graveyard shift’ (as Radcliffe called it) of 10 - 12 weekdays. This show is now sorely missed by all who religiously tuned in, and it isn’t just for the wide range of lovingly handpicked music that was on offer. The night time show featured cult movies, books and albums; poetry from Simon Armitage, Ian McMillan, John Hegley and Joolz; a stunning array of Live Session bands; knockabout interviews with stars and generally “two hours of top flight showbiz“
Sadly it didn’t last, in ‘97 the station was undergoing a shake-up. Radio 1’s biggest, loudest star, Chris Evans walked out and the audience were going with him (though not because of him). Drastic action was being taken after R1 started haemorrhaging listeners and to get them back it was decided it should become more ’youth friendly’, and the more esoteric shows were all dropped. Now the playlist would become more rigid and streamlined, even into the early evening. Apart form the uncomplicated indie sounds of The Evening Session, only immovable veteran John Peel and the ’specialist’ after midnight shows had any sort of free range.
Anyways. The ‘Northern tosspots’ failed to stem the flow of departing listeners, so, after a mere six months hosting The Breakfast Show, Mark & Lard were once again moved. This time to their current afternoon slot.
1.11: Plays Tanya Donnelly’s excellent single, ’The Storm’, a former ‘Record of the Week‘. Radcliffe is allowed to chose four tracks for the show himself, this is clearly one of his choices. The rest of the output is, yup, playlist.
1.25: Whilst Mark tries to guess this weeks winning Lottery numbers, I notice that the music that is constantly played in the background (the ‘bed’ music which existence is to, presumably, keep the station sounding ’funky and hip’ whilst boorin’ old talking goes on), is - at this moment at least - ‘Sun Rising’
1.27: ‘Raving Granny‘ Annie Nightingale slurs her way though an ad for her Sunday morning show.
1.28: Alien Ant Farm ‘Smooth Criminal‘. It actually sounds tamer than the original. What’s the fucking point of that?
1.42: ’Circle of Chance’. At last! A quiz worth listening to! But, even so, what is it with R1 and quizzes? It seems like it’s: playlist, playlist, quiz, playlist, playlist, quiz. All day long. Does every non-music part of ‘Daytime’ have to be a quiz? The answer to that is, clearly, yes.
1.45: The slightly disappointing new single from Belle & Sebastian. I won’t bother saying it sounds like Love ‘cos that would be too obvious. But true.
2.20: ‘Morris Idol’. Nothing whatever to do with ‘Pop Idol’. Each day ‘Malicious’ Mark Radcliffe and two other ’Morrisoligists’ (old night-time mucker, Ian McMillan and Bernard Rigley) cast a keen eye over young, Morris Dancing loving hopefuls who are determined to joint the ‘Mark and not Lard Morris Men’ troupe.
There’s a strange streak of Olde Englande whimsy running through Radcliffe. Possibly, in part, to go right against the grain of the other DJ’s desperate, cred seeking, ‘partypartyparty’, up-to-the-minute hipness stance, but otherwise it looks as if it comes from a seemingly genuine love for all things rural. He is, after all, in a Poguesey folk band, The Family Mahone (and quite good they are too, from what I’ve heard on Radio 2’s Folk Show), and, while his fellow DJ‘s larged it up in Ibiza, he took Travis to the ridiculously sleepy, picture book seaside resort of Robin Hood’s Bay in West Yorkshire. Not only that but many of the show’s comedy features are all quite quaint. There’s ‘Slim and Shady’ the tale of two loveable, cuddly (and foul-mouthed) woodland squirrels, narrated in a cod storybook style; and ‘Frogging’ is basically ‘One Man and His Dog’ related in a baffling surrealistic language. Also the nation’s capitol is always cheekily described as London Village, as if it were some out-of-the-way rural backwater, contrarily in direct contrast to the rest of the stations London-centric obsession. And even Mark & Lard‘s famous hobby band are called The Shirehorses.
So, with Lard strangely absent, Mark introduces today’s Morris Idol contestant, a squeaky voiced 13 year old from Bournemouth who, naturally, supports Man Utd and is into - amongst other things: “comics, crisps, Limp Bizkit and chasing girls“
Mark picks up on the fact that the contestant has failed to mention his love of Morris Dancing, “but don’t you have an interest that is normally associated with old men?“ he urges.
”ooh, yes Mark, the Stereophonics!“ the contestant blurts.
He then has to dance to a traditional Morris Dancing tune. And so, for almost a minute, Radio 1 broadcasts uninterrupted accordion music. The sheer, wilful perversity of it all is delightful.
2.27: The Coral are the recipient of ‘Single of the Week’.
2.34: In a programme ident, Pharoahe Monch describes the pair as a ‘coupla wildcats“
2.37: Long time whipping boy, Jamiroquai have their new single sarcastically described as a ‘radical departure“
2.50: Coldplay is the disappointing choice for today’s ‘Son of Cheesily [Chart Challenge]’
A far cry from the night-time shows of course, but still Mark & Lard daily manage to knock out a show that, even within the confines of ‘Daytime’, is both funny an highly individualistic. Part of the joy of it is how the stations whole ethos is subtly - and not so subtly -subverted and ridiculed. I’m sure he would strongly argue otherwise, but behind the unpretentious, good Northern blokiness image, Radcliffe is bloody-mindedly pulling against the constraints imposed upon him, and behind all those playful swipes at the latest production line chart gonks lies his despair for the homogeny of playlist dictated radio.
I would dearly love for Radcliffe to be in charge of his own show once more. He himself can sometimes be heard wistfully mentioning his old ‘Graveyard Shift’, and it’s clear he misses it as much as his listeners do. That it ended was madness, but what is needed now is a reinstatement of the freedom he once had, whether this would mean a return to an evening slot, I don’t much care.
Now, from the ridiculous and the sublime to...
Chris Moyles ~ 3.00pm - 5.45pm
3.00: Voiceover: “It’s Toosday! It’s three o’clock! Now! Live! From London! It’s... Chris... Moyles!“
Chris Moyles: “Hello“.
Memorably described by John Peel as “Dave Lee Travis in waiting“ and even more memorably described by Mark Lamarr as “an oily pig in a dunce’s hat“, Chris Moyles has had, in the cosy world of Radio 1, a meteoric rise. Joining in 1998 he was dumped in the traditional newbies pre-dawn, out of the way slot. Nevertheless, he wasted no time in setting out his stall. One of his first features on this show was to request listeners to send in naked photos of themselves, marking the envelope ‘Pop Quiz’. Also he would phone other DJ’s - one’s he hated like Nicky Campbell - and wake them up for a chat. What larks.
Only a few months into his new job and the position of Breakfast Show host becomes available after Chris Evans sennnnn-sationaly walks out. For an Evans aficionado like Moyles it looked like a shoo-in, he’d made all the right noises - loud ones - and had cultivated the right personality: that of the bellicose egotist who belittles those around him in order to gain superiority. It was perfect!
Sadly, for Moyles, Matthew Bannister had had a belly-full of Evans‘ antics to merely swap like with like, plus he wanted someone with a higher profile to rescue the falling show’s ratings (for, although Evans had initially bought in new listeners, the ratings towards the end of his stay were dropping). The lower risk factor of an already popular kiddie telly presenter - and one that went to nightclubs, to boot - won the day, and Zoe Ball was ushered in. Still, it was looking up for ‘Moylesy‘ as he was sent to his current late afternoon slot.
3.09: The Chris Moyles show, then: it’s all about what they got up to in the pub last night, casual sexism under the cloak of [semi]ironic New Ladism, and a love of Dad-Rock. Lazy criticism? Well, in the first link the team talk about what they got up to the previous night down the pub. Moyles recounts about how producer Will Kinder got drunk and leery and he repeats some of the sexist comments he made to women while attempting to chat them up. Will giggles along.
3.15: The Stereophonics‘ godawful cover of that ’Gladrags’ song is played. Chris declares it to be “fantastic“. He really has a tin ear for music. Previously he has championed the likes of Shed Seven, Texas, Ocean Colour Scene and just about every other Chris Evans endorsed Brit-Rock abomination.
During the early nineties there was a great purge of all the old ‘Smashy & Nicey‘ style DJs, Simon Bates, DLT all that lot. They were ’personality’ DJs who cared little for modern music and were only interested in smearing their own vaunting, oleaginous vanity all over the air-waves. They had become an embarrassment and an irrelevance, so, station controller Matthew Bannister decided to replace the old guard with people who may not necessarily have been career DJs but did clearly know and care about music - people like Radcliffe, Whiley, Lamacq, Hobbs - all too soon, however, and the ethos changed again. Knowledge of music, for the new recuits, wasn‘t quite the pre-requisite it had been. Now the station was after presenters with a ‘funkier‘, youthful and dance-oriented vibe. People who went clubbing and got pissed rather than those who went to gigs and bought records. So the likes of Ball/Cox, Moyles, Mills, the utterly useless Emma “absalooolee brilliaaaant!“ B, TV‘s Jamie Theakston and ‘big name‘ club DJs like Pete Tong were shipped in
3.40: A track by boyband Blue is played, and in light of one of the band member’s ridiculous comments about the fate of elephants being more important than the twin towers tragedy, Moyles amusingly mocks the hapless idiot: “what about baby butterflies? he shouts as the others chide him, “I can say that as I’m the outspoken one!“
3.42: An un-named new DJ peers through the glass into the studio. Moyles goes ballistic, shouting and ranting at how rude it was of them to watch him do his show.
3.44: A Harry Potter quiz. If there is a bandwagon near-by, Moyles is sure to jump on it. For all his psuedo-ironic boasting about how he is “the saviour of Radio 1, Chris Moyles is, essentially, a conformist, both eager to tow the party line and also desperate to remain populist. He would hate to ever feel left out of any popular ‘event’. An example of this is when the first series of Big Brother aired, the corpulent DJ, at first, dismissed it, giving the standard moan, ‘who wants to watch saddoes lie around all day?’
But as the programme became a national phenomenon so Moylesy was suddenly all the other way, and pretty soon the majority of his show was given over to discussion on the programme’s contestants and, naturally, the tabloid reaction.
And so, in the week where ‘Harry Potter’ became the national talking point, The Chris Moyles Show makes sure it doesn’t miss any boats. Young listeners are asked to phone in and quiz the team about the titular wizard, despite the fact that none of them really knows anything about the character, the books or, particularly, the film. For no other reason than that it’s popular, Harry Potter gets his own quiz.
3.55: Alien Ant Farm ‘Smooth Criminal’
4.13: It’s quiz time, and young teenage HP fans phone in. One of them, an 11 year old home-educated, well spoken girl called Phoebe appears to charm the team with her precocious, cheeky back-chat. “Do you think I should read Harry Potter?“ Moyles asks her, “No, it’s too intellectual for you“ comes the rejoinder (talk about ‘out of the mouths of babes‘). To his credit, Chris takes it with good humour.
4.45: Sport Talk. Apropos of I don‘t know what, Chris adopts a fantastically annoying Scottish accent as he grills the dopey producer for sports news.
4.53: ’Heaven is a Half-Pipe’, welcome back, old friend. Still sounds grrrrrrrrrrrrrate! even after 22, 000 listens. Si-i-gh.
5.10: I switch off for a while as I pop into the ’Offy’ for some booooze. Looks like I’ll need it.
5.27: Chris gets quite irate as he reads out messages sent to him asking why Delirious aren’t getting played on Radio 1, is it because the band are Christian?
Chris - somewhat needlessly - bellows that he hasn’t got a clue what they are talking about, and why are they bothering him? He’s got a point, he doesn't have a choice over what is played, he just plays what he is told to.
5.30: Another listener sends in a suggestion for a new feature, something called ’Secretary Snap’, the exact details are unclear but it seems it would involve phoning up different companies and talking to the secretaries, if two sound alike then you have ’Secretary Snap’.
Chris is incredulous, “What a great idea“ he sneers, “tell you what, why don’t you send it to Scott Mills? It’s the kind of thing he’ll do“, he adopts an effete ‘DJ’ voice, mimicking Mills, “Cock-a-Doodle-Do me darlin’, would you like to take part in ’Secredary Snap’?“
5.35: An Oxide and Neutrino mini-disc fails mid play. Chris takes it off and flings it down the corridor. “Don’t worry, everyone, I’ll make sure we play it again - next year, maybe.“
5.37: ‘Joe Tonguing Update’, a friend of the show in New York is called to be gleefully grilled about a first date he had been on.
Due to the leeway he is given, Chris Moyles is able to make the show wholly his own in a way in which only Mark & Lard are able to do to the same extent, in the daytime.
This is, generally speaking, a good thing, though it does mean the show either stands or falls on whether you think Moylesy is the ‘saviour’ he thinks he is, or not. Thing is, he has swallowed whole - or, perhaps, has, himself, been swallowed by - FHM Lad culture. Birds, beer, footy - the occasional interviews he does are usually with the female ‘stars’ of Hollyoaks, S Club 7, Page 3 etc. People who aren’t ‘above his station’ and who won’t necessarily mind him pursuing a line of questioning that will feed his lecherousness / ego.
Moyles is heavily influenced by Chris Evans and Nick Abbot. And though he doesn’t quite share their wayward talent, he does share Evans’ bitter, self-loathing which manifests itself in a notorious thin-skinned ness. But, whereas Evans would resort to shockingly spiteful, on-air bullying to assert his dominance, and would clearly walk over / exploit anyone on his unrelenting drive for success, Moyles, ultimately, seeks acceptance. They are like the two kids at school who were always bullied and pushed aside. The fatso and the ginge.. And so they have since determinedly worked their way to a place of certain power, and now, finally, they can turn the tables. The bullied becomes the bully. Though, Moyles’ co-hosts and the callers are ridiculed by him frequently, they aren’t humiliated daily like Evans’ victims. This, I think, because Moyles wants to popularity over Evans’ preferred revenge by success. That’s why he always seems delighted when Heat magazine or the tabloids take notice of him, or he is invited to an awards show or some such - he’s wanted! He’s popular! At last, at last, at last! And any bad review of his show whips him up into his usual spitting, ranting frenzy, reading out bits of the review in a mock silly/pompous voice followed by shouted abuse. He cares so much about what people think of him, it cripples his judgement.
He can be funny though, and his show has the right amount of daft, scatological banter, irreverence and a pleasing, vocal, disrespect for a lot of the songs he has to play. And sometimes you even forget you that you want to smack his face in.
Dave Pearce ~ 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Something called ‘On Demarrrrrnd’. Oh bloody hell, a request show! What are R1 doing having a duff, old request show on their line-up? Every local radio station has one and they’re all phoney as phuck. The only requests that are chosen, on these things, are those that match the shows pre-determined playlist. Phone in and request ‘Debaser‘ if you don’t believe me, see if they play it. You know it’ll be all Fatboy Slim and Dido. Like it always is.
Jesus, they’re not even pretending on this one. Listeners are given a short list of tracks to choose from. The list includes S Club, Sum 41, DMX
6.03: David Gray is up first.
The first 25 minutes is nothing but an unbroken stream of bland pap. God, this is boring. I’m really getting weary of this now, even the incessant petty bickering of the dumb-fuck Club 18-30 types on Shipwrecked, playing mute on TV, is looking mighty fine. He-e-e-lp!
6.25: Listeners leave answer phone messages requesting their favourite tracks. Sum 41 fans sound giggly and thick whilst Pharaohe Monch fans all adopt wAcKy personas. This is rubbish.
I’m wondering quite what Dave Pearce is doing here. I’m sure Dave Pearce is wondering what Dave Pearce is doing here. What is he doing here?
He’s been - proper - DJing since 1981 (!), and is currently a popular club DJ and remixer. His dance background was perfect for R1’s new dance-freindly image. Upon joining the station he was dumped in the usual early, pre-breakfast slot, but soon was moved to the prodigious early Sunday morning slot. Whoo-whee! He presented the ’Raver’s Breakfast’ show, or something along those lines, where people coming back from the clubs could tune in and continue listening to more, what my Mum calls, ’Housey-Housey’ music. And now he’s here, doing this.
I just don’t see the point of this show, what is it for? It just seems to fill in a blank between afternoon and evening shows, and it’s just aimless.
6.35: Westlife. Yes. Aren’t I luckyyyyyyy? Actually, I often hear Radio 1 be critisised for playing ’all that chart and boyband crap’ as if Westlife and the like are a mainstay of the stations playlist. This is actually a misnomer, not only is this the first time I’ve heard the Irish boyband through the whole of today (it’s on the C-list) but the more soporific, teeny bands rarely get a look in. And that DJ Otzi thing only got played on the Sunday chart rundown.
6.40: Another ‘Entertainment News’. New of Graham Norton winning an Emmy award causes Dave to quip, “If you want an art show - Graham’s your man“. I don’t know what that means either. And Dane Bowers according to Dave eats a lot of kebabs and is “getting bigger“. You can talk Dave, you fat git. There is also an interview with Roger Sanchez who is “in Japan“. S’funny, he was on Jo Whiley‘s show only this morning.
7.00: The ‘Mix Selecta’. This is more like it, actually. Dance hits back to back. Untill...
7.20: Starsailor. What?
7.40: Top of the Pops competition, the prize is free entry to the TOTP awards show, interviewing the stars on R1‘s behalf, “the chance to break into the entertainment industry“ boasts Dave. But first...
7.45: Alien Ant Farm ‘Smooth Criminal’. For the last time today, please God.
7.50: “Who wants to be a music journalist, then?“ (ha!). Two contestants are lined up, both students wanting to be music journos (ha!). The girl student would ideally like to interview Kelly Jones (ha!) and Turin Brakes, the boy would like to ask Thom Yorke: “what seams going through his music are“ which sounds a bit Yoda-ish to me. To win though, these two indie-loving students have to answer questions on: Kylie, Mariah Carey, Natalie... Imb... Umbrella, TOTP, Jamie Theakston (ha!) and Travis
7.54: And it’s with Travis that the show finally ends.
Like I said, the whole show seems like a stop-gap, it drags on through lazily thought out ideas and a bored DJ who must have only taken the job to raise his profile and therefore gets to sell more mix CDs and gets a lot of bookings. For this can’t be the type of show he would really want to present, he’s just a hired hand. The whole show’s gotta go. But for me, thankfully, it’s the end of playlist dominated radio. Bring on the night.
Coming soon - The Evening Session with Steve Lamacq; John Peel; The Rock Show with Mary Ann Hobbs.