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Global gets Radio X out for the lads

By | Published on Tuesday 8 September 2015

Radio X

So, as Global Radio confirmed yesterday morning that Xfm would morph or, rather, regenerate into the much mooted Radio X on 21 Sep, there was plenty chatter online about the concept of a radio station packaged for MEN, the line-up of quotes pumped out from the new station’s line-up of celebrity presenters, and the passing of a commercial radio station that set out to champion what was new and alternative in music.

Because while, as previously noted, some of the specialist shows will remain in night time – most notably John Kennedy’s always brilliant ‘Xposure’ – so there’ll still presumably be a few hours a day dedicated to the original Xfm mission, the sense is that daytime on Radio X will have a much safer music policy than even Xfm at its safest. And while the new venture’s strapline is “get into the music”, with Chris Moyles and Johnny Vaughan in the two flagship slots, we assume it will be chat between the records that really positions this station.

Given all the flack commercial radio gets for putting too little effort and budget into opinionated and distinct on-air personalities, opting too often for the “more music power every hour” approach that became a ‘thing’ in the 1990s, if Global was repositioning one of its pop FM stations into the Radio X format it would probably get plenty of praise.

But in the music community there seems to be more disappointment. Partly at the suggestion that a music radio station could or should be skewed towards just one gender (though rumour has it that the ‘for MEN’ thing was much more pronounced in the first draft of the Radio X launch). And partly at the demise of a nearly two decade mission to have a commercial station on the FM dial that exists primarily to champion new and alternative music; a mission that was sometimes partly successful, and at other times really worked.

Ever since the mega-radio business that is Global Radio was created, it never seemed like Xfm got all that much love from the top guard there, but perversely the firm’s indifference to the brand meant the hugely stripped-back team running the station had more of a free reign to make some great radio. And to be fair, when Global found itself with a spare FM licence in Scotland last year, it did use it to extend the Xfm network.

But perhaps – even without the conspiracy theories of Global supremo Ashley Tabor reinventing a whole radio station to give his old mate Chris Moyles a new job – it was inevitable that the old Xfm would eventually have to go, especially once BBC 6 Music started to gain momentum after its threatened closure, it sort of being the radio station Xfm’s creators actually envisaged (mainly presented by the people Xfm’s creators envisaged presenting it).

Also, as radio expert Matt Deegan wrote yesterday, the core Xfm audience were hard to please and monetise, the station’s various owners having never been quite able to persuade brands that the undeniable cool that came with Xfm (certainly at its peak) should equate to premium ad and sponsorship rates, despite the relatively modest listening figures. Deegan writes: “New music fans are miserable bastards at the best of times – it’s almost impossible to satisfy them, there aren’t that many of them, and you’re now sharing their listening with blogs and Spotify and so on”.

So goodbye Xfm, it was fun while it lasted. We hope that the dream can live on a little through ‘Xposure’ and any other late night treats. And in daytime, those seeking new music can switch to 6 or Amazing or some new fangled playlist-orientated algorithm-human-curated personalised-streaming mish mash. While Global Radio gets on with working out whether there’s good money to be made out of bland rock and raucous banter.

And now here are the quotes. Enjoy.

Vernon Kay: “I’m excited to be getting back on the radio. The launch of Radio X is the dawn of a new era in radio. There is a real buzz around the station because we know that this is going to be a lot of fun… It’s going to be a real honour to have Chris Moyles as my warm-up, bringing his unique style of broadcasting back onto the radio waves”.

Johnny Vaughan: “They say there’s nothing better than that ‘new car’ smell. Well, there is… it’s the smell of a brand new drive time show on a brand new radio station being listened to in that brand new car! Great Britain needs great banter and I can’t wait to be back on air five days a week talking to people up and down the UK as we get them home with a bit of a laugh and some awesome music!”

Ricky Wilson: “Xfm was the first station to invite me and the band down for a session, way before we were even called Kaiser Chiefs. They were right there for us and many, many other bands from the very beginning of their histories, through all incarnations, career ups and downs, break ups and come backs. Even talking recently to other bands and musicians about the station, everyone has very fond things to say about it, so it makes me both proud and excited to be right there at the beginning of a new chapter as Radio X launches as the new rebel of the airwaves”.

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