Eddy Says

Eddy Says: Dear Auntie…

By | Published on Monday 1 March 2010


OK, so I had a bit of a rant on Twitter last week. More than a bit. I had a proper, balls out spleen-vent, the kind I normally reserve for Christmas with one of my nearest and dearest. Predictably, the object of my anger and frustration was the BBC, and the latest news about their cutbacks, especially with regard to 6music.

I saw red, such a bloody shade of red that some people really got the wrong end of the stick, and I had messages saying things like: “You’re not a fan of the BBC but you should be on it…” That’s a sweet thing to say and I fully understand it’s reasoning, but it starts with a premise that is fundamentally wrong. I LOVE the BBC. All this anger stems from love. It makes the sense of betrayal that I’m feeling run so much deeper.

I see the BBC as family. My lovable but difficult and slightly batty auntie, who is independently wealthy, generous at Christmas, but old fashioned almost to the point of annoyance, and always being taken advantage of by hawkers who knock on her door.

But, despite her awkwardness, I love her, because it was she who turned me onto music, while my dad was disapproving. It was this auntie who taught me to find beauty in everything, from architecture and antiques, to the amazing planet we live on, and in every bit of its flora and fauna. And she taught me about cultural diversity, and about culture itself, in all its forms.

I cut my teeth, as did Chris Evans, Richard Bacon, Gideon Coe and countless others, in BBC local radio. I went on, via an ad in the newspaper, to get a job at Radio 1, in the roaring 90s, where this crazy journey of mine really began.

You’d think that because I work for another station that I’d be celebrating the loss of a major digital rival, but that loses sight of the core of my being: I am, first and foremost, a music fan, and 6music shares its soul with Xfm, as a station for people who really care about music. We are kindred spirits, not rivals. That’s how I see it anyway.

I understand the need for cut backs in this climate, but in axing 6music the BBC are overlooking their fundamental raison d’etre. That is NOT to be commercial, but to provide an alternative to the mainstream, to ensure diversity, objectivity and fairness.

Let’s face it, 1Xtra is an urban station, and Radio 1, during daylight hours, shares the same urban obsession. Why on Earth would an organisation supposedly committed to diversity then sack off a station just because it hasn’t got a huge number of listeners? They’re all there for a reason, because their listeners can’t get what they want anywhere else. That’s the key.

If I’m an R&B loving kid, then I have Radio 1, 1Xtra or any of the myriad independent local radio stations around the country. It doesn’t matter where I live, I will have my needs catered for. But if I’m, well, me, or any of my mates, and I live outside London, where do I go for the music I love? I mean, for fuck’s sake, I live in Clapham, but I can’t get Xfm – or pretty much any non-BBC station – on my DAB radio, the ONLY station I can get, that plays the music I love, is 6music.

All the others are playing, in the words of Steely Dan, “nothing but somebody else’s favourite song”.

I believe the closing of 6music is against the terms of the BBC’s charter. This is something we should fight tooth and nail to keep, even if we don’t listen to it. Like The World Service, it HAS to be there, because it is ESSENTIAL to enrich the lives of the people who listen to it, and because these people have NOWHERE ELSE TO GO.

I believe with all my heart that the BBC is the single greatest thing about this country. This statement started an interesting thread on my Facebook page, with quite a few people saying: “What about the NHS?” And I say, as a massive fan and supporter of the NHS, yes, it is wonderful. It’s full of overworked, underpaid angels in human form, but is it the best in the world? I can’t say that. I’ve been treated much faster and in a much more modern and cleaner environments overseas.

However, the BBC is absolutely, without question or argument, the greatest broadcasting organisation in the world. It is something every other country is jealous of and wishes they had and it is the yardstick by which all others should be measured.

But this fact doesn’t give it licence to fuck us over, and that is what it’s doing right now. It’s lost sight of what it’s there for. We need to remind our auntie what is important, so remind her, write, email, contact your MP, get your outrage on and get the message across. We are a minority, but just because we’re not united by the colour of our skin or our religion, we’re being screwed. Don’t let this happen, my friends, fight for what we believe in: Let’s fight for music.

Much love,
eddy X

Eddy Says from this edition of the CMU Remix Update.