Saturday 14 July 2012

Radio 1 - The Chris Moyles Show

A few posts back, I mentioned my preferred choice of radio station: BBC Radio 1. It's the second most popular radio station in the UK, behind BBC Radio 2, and its daytime shows are very much geared towards chart-based music. It broadens its appeal significantly with the evening and late-night shows, covering various genres and niches, but certainly the 7am - 7pm slots are focused very much on 'popular music'.

And, really, that's to my taste. There's a lot of people that dislike Radio 1 because of this tendency to play the more "commercial" songs (although it definitely does do a good job of highlighting some lesser-known artists and giving them a huge audience boost) and, if your taste is a little less mainstream and a little more alternative, then you may well find it easy to complain about its playlist. However, whilst my musical taste isn't confined to "the hits of today", I am happy to stand up and say that, yes, I like what they play. Or most of it, anyway.

Up until about six or seven years ago, I mainly listened to local radio stations. At that time it was SGR Colchester, which is now part of the Heart network. They played chart music, but also threw in various songs from the last thirty years or so. But, although I knew it is necessary for a commercial radio station to have them, the advertising drove me crazy. A friend/colleague then declared that I should really be listening to Radio 1. He moved the frequency, put it on, and that's what I'd listen to each afternoon at work. As a result I found myself getting back into music a little more, having become rather restricted in what I was listening to.

About five years ago, I started having the odd day where I would have to start work a lot earlier. I'd be out in a delivery van from around five or six in the morning and, even with someone sitting beside me, conversation is difficult when my mind is still focusing on how much it wants to be back in bed. Therefore the radio filled in the early-morning silences. And it was Radio 1's breakfast show that did the job: The Chris Moyles Show.

For the past eight and a half years, Chris Moyles and his team have been doing the breakfast show (from 6:30/6:55am - 10am). I have only listened for the last five years or so, and only on those days where I'm actually awake at that time in the morning with access to radio. So perhaps three out of five weekdays I'm a listener. But it is by far my favourite radio show, and far surpasses any of the other morning shows available. The show, and Chris Moyles himself, have certainly had plenty of criticism and controversy over the years; the majority of which is unfounded. And even I'm happy to admit that, from time to time, there are moments in the show that are a bit "laddish" and not especially to my taste.

But... on the whole, I love the show. The zoo format works particularly well as each team member is very individual, and it genuinely gives the impression of a group of friends just sitting around having a chat and a laugh. And, as a listener, I somehow feel very much part of this.

Ironically, considering both the *cough* purpose *cough* of this blog and Radio 1's supposed commitment to music, The Chris Moyles Show plays substantially fewer songs that any of the other shows. Fortunately, the chats and interviews that make up most of the show are enjoyable, usually funny, and enjoyable to listen to overall.

During last Wednesday's show (the 11th of July 2012), Chris Moyles announced his plans to 'wrap-up' the show, bringing it to a close in September. The reasons, although not given during the announcement, seem to be varied. Although still the second most-popular breakfast show (again, Radio 2 has the top spot, with Chris Evans), the listening figures have been dropping a little - although this is generally the case throughout radio. Also, Chris has been doing a lot more work outside of Radio 1, including television and an upcoming stint on stage as King Herod in Jesus Chris Superstar. Perhaps more significantly, Radio 1 is desperately trying to attract its desired 15-25 demographic. The average age of a listener at the moment is 32. Chris Moyles is 38. Other shifts in programming recently have suggested an attempt to bring the age of the average listener down, and ending Moyles' reign on the breakfast show similarly falls in line.

Personally, as a 29 year old, I think the obsession with the required demographic is foolish. Just for starters, I don't believe that those in their late teens even have much of a desire to listen to radio anymore. Music is consumed in so many different ways now, and traditional radio is probably not the key port-of-call for the lower end of the age-group that Radio 1 seems desperate to attract.

But ho hum... that's not really what I've chosen to write about.

It is disappointing that in a couple of month's time The Chris Moyles Show, with all of its sarcastic self-inflation and playful dramatics, will be no more. It genuinely has been the highlight of many mornings over the past few years, and it will be strange to no longer hear it. The new breakfast DJ, Nick Grimshaw, will no doubt do an excellent job (I do like his evening shows whenever I catch them), but somehow I can't see myself listening quite as intently. With any luck, Chris Moyles will remain working in radio in some form or other; preferably with a show elsewhere on Radio 1, and hopefully still with his team. Or perhaps he'll come back to fill in when Nick is away, who knows?

I shall miss The Chris Moyles Show.

"Any good music must be an innovation." - Les Baxter

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