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Save BBC 6Music



Save-6-music Imagine a radio station that played your favourite music all the time. Not only that, it also introduced you to a whole host of new music, hosted by a range of intelligent, passionate and knowledgeable DJs. Imagine a radio station that plays bands like The Cocteau Twins and The Go-Betweens on the Breakfast Show.

Well, that radio station exists, and to its 700,000 loyal listeners, it's the best music station in the world. However, after BBC Director General Mark Thompson announced a strategic review of its services today, BBC 6Music (together with the BBC Asian Network) is set to close.

There are many reasons why this is a disaster for music lovers. Firstly, there really is no alternative out there to 6Music. If you find the inane chatter of Radio 1 too much, and feel that you're a bit too young to be subjected to Ken Bruce and Steve "Love the show, Steve" Wright, there's certainly no other place on the BBC to listen to music. In the company of broadcasters such as Gideon Coe, Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Shaun Keaveny and Jarvis Cocker (yes, that Jarvis), it's the antithesis of the likes of Chris Moyles.
 
As for the commercial alternatives, it's a similarly barren landscape. XFM may play the odd track by The Big Pink or The xx, but you won't find two hours of strange avant-garde music like you will on Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone. You certainly won't hear the dulcet tones of Elbow's Guy Garvey playing his favourite tunes from his Manchester flat. And you definitely won't find Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, an eclectic marvel presented by the legend himself.

6Music has also been primarily responsible for breaking many new acts. Names like Florence & The Machine, Animal Collective and Friendly Fires (all of whom featured prominently amongst last months' Brits nominations) all received their first play on 6Music. There's the very real danger that if 6Music were to close, there would be no output for new music in this country – that is, none that's not controlled by major record labels and Simon Cowell's conveyor belt.

There's also been an explosion in great British comedy over the past few years, thanks in part to 6Music's patronage. Long before he moved to Hollywood and hooked up with Katy Perry, Russell Brand could be found on a Sunday lunchtime presenting a show that quickly became required listening. The presence of his lifelong friend Matt Morgan meant that the famous Brand ego was kept in check, and the results were compulsive listening.

That tradition has been continued over the years by Russell Howard and Jon Richardson, while the jewel in 6Music's schedule has been the Adam & Joe Show. Now on a temporary sabbatical, the duo's features such as Song Wars, Text The Nation and a simple bellow of the name 'Stephen' have built up a fiercely loyal following.

I'm not pretending that 6Music is perfect. It often tries too hard to be all things to all men, and the puzzling hiring of the appalling George Lamb alienated a large section of the station's natural constituency. However, pushing Lamb to the graveyard slot of early weekend mornings and bringing the excellent Lauren Laverne on board shows that the station's bosses can learn from their mistakes.

So, what can be done? Thompson's announcement this morning is not the end of matters. The review will now go to the BBC Trust, which will begin a consultation period. The Guardian has reported Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the Trust as saying that "if there's massive public concern that we need to take account of, then we will go back to the Director General to rethink the strategy".

It's up to us in other words. Everyone who loves music and is concerned at the loss of 6Music should contact the Trust to let them know what a horrible mistake this would be. Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/contact/index.shtml and email them. Complete the online survey to give your opinion about the Strategic Review.

You can join as many Facebook groups and enter as many Twitter hashtags as you like, but the BBC needs to hear voices on this matter. Otherwise, we'll be seeing the death of intelligent music radio in this country, which would be a tragedy for anyone who cares about music.



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