Ever wondered what a mash-up between La Roux and Heaven 17 sounds like? BBC 6 Music brought the acts together for an entertaining collaboration. It’s a good example of the digital station fulfilling its remit by illustrating the connections between different musical generations.
But there are already rumblings that the station, which has 620,000 weekly listeners and costs £7 million a year to run, could be closed in a meaningless sacrifice to politicians demanding BBC savings and a limit on the corporation’s digital ambitions.
The BBC Trust is about to publish a review into the performance of both 6 and Radio 2. Commercial competitors want both stations to stop chasing younger audiences and Radio 2 is certain to be told to up its public service game.
The Trust, unlikely to know its Hot Chip from its White Rabbits, could argue that 6′s audience reach doesn’t justify its expense and anyway, couldn’t its audience of former punk warriors and disenfranchised John Peel fans be served in the margins of a tightened-up Radio 2?
That would be a mistake, especially given the demise of a regular new music slot on BBC One. 6 gives a valuable leg-up to noisy new bands excluded from the R&B-obsessed Radio 1 and dusts down long-forgotten nuggets from the BBC archives.
Would its commercial critics replicate its weekend run of Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service – fast becoming a mordant successor to Peel – followed by the outer limits experimentalism of Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone?
Balding Wedding Present fans aren’t used to marching at the barricades but they might need to form a vocal “Save 6 Music” campaign. Record companies too won’t want to see another route to market closed off.
Rather than sign its death warrant, perhaps the Trust could order the BBC to lavish some of the promotional airtime lavished on the Chris Evans show on to one of its hidden treasures instead?