7 March 2010 by Steve Lamacq

“The BBC has a crucial role to play (in the digital age)…..We have our responsibility to provide content which can drive digital take-up. Our portfolio of digital radio and television channels is designed to do just this. BBC Four, Radio 6 Music, Cbeebies and other new channels are winning critical acclaim, and are building audiences.”
GAVYN DAVIES, then Chairman of the BBC Governors, in 2002

How times and politics change! Back in 2002 the BBC, with a nod to the Labour Government, were on a mission to help push the nation towards the digital switchover.

Eight years later, under pressure from both media groups and politicians the current Director General Mark Thompson this week announced the proposed closure of two of its digital stations, namely the Asian Network and our beloved 6Music.

It is part of a streamlining of services, designed to either a) save money or b) reduce the size of the BBC, depending on which argument you believe. After a week of watching Mr Thompson explaining his decision, I’m not sure I’m really any the wiser.

It’s clear that the BBC – after revelations about presenter salaries and post Sachsgate – has been on the defensive. And that it’s been worried by criticism from both the Conservative Party and the commercial sector who claim the BBC – like Jamie Oliver’s school kids – has become obese.

What’s less clear is how sacrificing 6Music will help.

A recent report from the BBC Trust, compiled after a year of discussion and public consultation suggested that – although still “few in number”, listeners loved the network. And it pointed out that it was fastest growing BBC digital station over the past four years.

Tim Davie, the BBC’s Head of Radio, virtually agreed as much in his interview on Radio 4’s Feedback programme on Friday. Davie, who is also publicly in favour of wielding the axe, praised the quality of 6Music’s output but added (rather enigmatically) that “we are cutting that network as a name, 6Music as an independent network is not doing enough.”

I’m convinced there’s a bit of sleight of hand here. Davie maintains that having nine stand alone BBC radio stations is too many (when I think what he means is there’s ‘too many brands’ and losing a couple will make it easier to market what they have left – while also putting on a show for people who are demanding the BBC’s blood. We are a radio station up for a public flogging!).

The inference from Davie is that they are considering moving some 6Music shows, possibly to Radio 2, to give them “a bigger audience”. But given that Radio 2 has recently been told to become ‘more distinctive’ and create more programmes for the over-60s, that doesn’t look particularly practical.

He also alluded to other “options as to where output could go.”

One unsubstantiated rumour gaining strength, is that, to appease angry 6Music listeners they could create an evening-only digital service, possibly called Radio 2 Extra (which is a bit like having your four bedroom house compulsorily purchased and replaced with a bedsit on the edge of Heathrow).

But apart from simplifying the line-up, the closure proposals still don’t all stack up. One argument is that the BBC should be allowing space in the ‘market’ for commercial stations to operate. But what commercial outfit is ever going to replicate 6Music?

Even people in the commercial sector don’t get this (see this excellent piece by former GCap man and Quidem CEO Steve Orchard).

On a personal level, I believe that shutting 6music would be disastrous for the British music scene – and alternative music from further a field too. There is so much music being played every week on Six that simply doesn’t get played anywhere else, that losing it would be unthinkable.

Where will all these bands go? And, if someone stopped to think about it, where will all our listeners go? (the ones for whom Spotify isn’t enough, whose appetite for new music has been reawakened in the past five to ten years and is complimentary to their desire to hear the music of their youth).

It is not the BBC’s job to be part of the marketing machine for the music industry, but it is the Beeb’s job I believe to encourage and champion talent which would not get exposure elsewhere. Martin Mills, founder of Beggars Banquet and now Beggars Group Chairman puts it so much better here.

6Music isn’t perfect (my daily struggle with my own show’s running orders bears testimony to that). And it’s painfully obvious that there have been mistakes made along the way as the station has evolved and veered from one mission statement to the next.

But 6music is a complicated being. It plays music from the past – both well known and obscure, but it also champions the New. It makes an attempt to bring the BBC’s priceless archive to life while peppering shows with new sessions. And it treads an extraordinarily difficult route through that minefield of being both entertaining and challenging. It properly freaks me out some days.

Yet I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere where I’ve felt closer to the audience. Listening again to Feedback yesterday morning, I was honestly, almost in tears at the passion and eloquence of the listeners campaigning for its survival.

The cultural hole it would leave if scrapped, would have terrible repercussions for everyone from small promoters to indie labels to bands and to music fans of all ages. We’d be denying people the chance to hear music which could – even in just a few cases – alter their life, as listening to John Peel changed mine.

Don’t scrap it now before its fully discovered its true identity. Instead, in five years time, take the praise for what it will have grown into and achieved: an independently-minded station on the periphery of pop. A station which understands and celebrates our musical history – while always looking to the future.

You might be surprised.


I agree completely. But there is something else that everyone seems to have overlooked. Time Davie has admitted that the BBC failed to adequately promote 6music. I am a great example of this. I heard that this station existed on Thursday and have not stopped listening to it since. 15 years ago I would listen to John Peel, the evening session with you and Jo Whiley and Mark Radcliffe. Surely I am a target listener for 6music? Yet I’d stopped listeneing to all BBC radio stations because none of them I thought (wrongly as it turns out) played music I liked. I feel let down by the corporation. I can only hope that this unfortunate publicity will boost listening figures sufficiently to force the BBC to reconsider their decision. I have already contacted my MP just in case the dissatisfaction I expressed when filling in the BBC consultation document does not hold weight.

Christopher Day 7 March 2010, 14:33

well said steve. the management clearly don’t understand what makes 6music special and unique.

all tim davie understands is brand names, marketing and how to sell cola.

we need to make a noise so loud they can’t do anything but listen. and to do that we need bold statements from presenters. can’t be easy being publically critical of management so i nice one steve for this article.

steve thackray 7 March 2010, 14:36

Well said Steve. radio 6 is my medicine, against depression. Music is a life saver, And I must do my part in return and help Save radio 6. The place for music lovers.

Thank you for standing up so publicly to be counted, it can’t be easy. I have little to add that has not been said here or elsewhere – I too am one of those people whose love of quality contemporary music has been re-awoken these last ten years and 6 has a major part in that process. Where else is a listener like me of a ‘certain age’ supposed to go? Commercials don’t cut it , Radio 1 certainly doesn’t and although I am of the demographic that means I should be locked to Radio 2 I, and many others,cannot be pigeon holed by the insult of demographics. Although the web and some mainly US stations are valuable I need to be surprised and delighted by the new and inspiring that I don’t know how to find myself – 6 Music does that and I can see no better definition of the supposed BBC principles of being distinctive, high quality and different – lets hope that some semblance of common sense prevails

Robert Haymon-Collins 7 March 2010, 14:58

It is so good to know how much 6 music means to its presenters because to us listeners it is with out doubt a shining gem amongst all the endless dull pebbles.
I owe 6 music a lot for all the bands it has introduced me to, and for getting once more interested in going to festivals. Having moved away from London to the rural depths of England’s green pastures I found that my choice
of Music on radio was massively limited, with my poor analogue radio picking only the major BBC and BBB local stations… my interest in new music started to wain. Then I found 6 music and soon had it blaring out at work and home.
A couple of years ago I was at and had tickets to go to Truck in Oxfordshire, 6 music had been several bands that were going to playing and had some of the acts in for interviews and hub sessions. The day came for me make my way to the festival and off I went in my car. (Cue Radio 1 on my analogue car radio) I had not got more than half an hour away from work when I got a call from my colleges who were still listening to 6 music. Apparently Truck was rained off… now I didn’t believe them, surely they pulling my leg? “Yeah right, I haven’t heard anything on the radio” said I.
“It’s all over 6 music“said they. Indeed they were right, photos show the festival under a foot of water. Now if it hadn’t been for 6 music (a some good friends) I would have traveled all 112 miles for nothing. Why weren’t Radio 1 reporting this news? I expect the presenters imagine that Truck is a festival of, well, Trucks and Lorries.

kester hoefkens 7 March 2010, 15:24

Thank you Steve for being brave enough to say how you feel about this big mistake by so called management. I hope there are no repercussions for you and the other presenters who have spoken out.
I completely agree with what you say. 6 Music has been caught between management trying to appease both the politicians and the commercial interests who would love for chunks of the BBC to not exist.
But why 6 Music? So little money would be saved and the commercials would not play much of what 6 Music plays. Though they are very quick to jump on the bandwagon when groups become successful! But they are not brave enough to champion bands in their early stages. THAT is where 6 Music comes in.
It has been willing to take chances where the commercials would never even think about going. And it’s relatively cheap to run. The logic behind closure makes no sense other than as a sacrifice to the politicians and commercial groups. But perhaps they thought 6 Music was an easy target and we would all roll over. If so, THEY ARE VERY WRONG.
Here in Scotland we know how to battle!
The listeners who value this station will fight to the end. And we don’t intend to lose!

Joe Roszkowski 7 March 2010, 15:42

Thank you Mr. Lamacq for stepping out and courageously speaking up about this decision to axe 6 Music. You have pretty much summed it all up and have “taken the words out of my mouth”. It doesn’t make any sense for 6 Music to close. The radio hosts are amazing and put their best foot forward on each program, the music played is a perfect blend of the old and new(keeps things fresh!)and you don’t find that anywhere anywmore. This is what makes 6 Music unique. I think what bothers me the most is the pure ignorance of those making this decision(I’ll be nice and hold my tongue, haha) Do these decision makers think that it will be all over once 6 Music goes? No! There will be a ripple effect that will be felt across the globe. What will happen to these music artists if/once 6 Music is gone? This is their bread and butter, their livelihood and what brings food to their table! This is a terrible message to send to these artists and it’s almost as if “they’ are getting the axe. And not to mention, what does this say about the BBC and their appreciation for their radio hosts and listeners? I live in the U.S. and have been a listener of 6 music going on 2 years now and of course I support my local talent without question but I have always been a fan of music from the UK(particularly Britain)beginning with the NWOBHM as a teen, so what message is this sending not only to myself but other foreigners that listen to 6 Music? For one it tells me that the artists in your country don’t deserve recognition and that maybe some don’t care about them(those deciding to axe 6 music). What a shame. Okay, I could go on and on but I think my main points have been made. Thank you Mr. Lamacq for caring so much for your station! That is very admirable. Take care.

I feel pretty choked up and chuffed that Phil’s, Richard’s and my contributions to “Feedback” affected you so. Interesting, though, that three (typical?) listeners in the studio and two on the phone seemed to come across better than a member of the BBC Board, despite having no particular media training.

As I said (but it wasn’t used) the 6music audience has the intelligence and commitment of the Radio 3 and 4 listeners, but in addition the bolshiness of Lydon and passion/commitment of Strummer.

We will win this battle.

Peter Crocker 7 March 2010, 15:59

Well said Steve. Where indeed will those of us who don’t want to be force-fed a diet of the latest boy/girl band or Simon Cowell five minute wonder go to hear something different. In the last 10 years or so, most of my record buying has been influenced by 6 music or the likes of Bob Harris and the specialist shows that Radio 2 offer rather than the standard playlist fare of 95% of radio stations:
I did discover this on the internet. It seems to sum up my feeling of BBC management at present over this issue:
Why not have a go Steve, I’m sure you want to really!

I agree with everything you say Steve. I can’t even remember how and when I stumbled across 6music, it wasn’t as a result of the Beeb advertising it, I know that much.
For years I listened through the telly, then bought a DAB so I could take it to work and listen to 6music there too.
In our house it has got to the point where the telly sometimes doesn’t get turned on at night, and if it does, often or not the sound is muted and the subtitles are up while 6music carries on playing.

It felt like I had been given the news a friend had been diagnosed with a terminal illness when I heard the news. With the news that the Trust has the final say like a surgeon saying it could go one way or the other in the upcoming life saving operation.

Radio 2 has never done it for me and never will. I used to be able to listen to Radio 1, but of late from what I’ve heard of it it’s like crapitol radio without the badverts.

I honestly haven’t felt as sad & angry as this since the final whistle of the 1975 European Cup Final in Paris. I really feel let down by the BBC.

To finish my rant, what is the obsession with linking age groups & types of music? You either like something or you don’t, simple as.

absolutely spot on steve,

i went on channel 4 news last week and one of my artists alessis ark went on bbcnews24 to make our feelings known. As a board member of AIM, along with Martin Mills at Beggars, we are as a body committed to the cause and wont let up. I can also report that ed o’brien from radiohead has joined our campaign and will be a vocal supporter from hereon in. We mustnt give up …..there is a blog on my page about this too, in more depth,

best wishes

Well said Steve.
I am a regular listener to 6 and listen to your show everyday when I get in from school. I stumbled across 6 after getting a DAB radio for Christmas in 2008. I was bored with Radio 1 one Sunday morning. I remembered a joke somebody had made on Radio 1 saying that 6music was for anoraks and I thought, well, if they don’t like it I probably will. And it’s true. I adore 6music. It has completely changed my outlook on music in general. And I’m 16. I’ve found 6 playing the indie new releases that I crave, and old stuff, classic stuff that I just wouldn’t be able to access anywhere else. I’m far too young for Radio 2 (I listened to Steve Wright once on iPlayer to an Ellie Goulding interview) and as I tried to find it I stumbled across a conversation about milk prices and suchlike. And Radio 1, well, let’s just say I prefer people who care about music more than just “oh i’ll listen to this for one week and then I’ll never hear it again because the next big hit will have come along”. Save 6music!!!

Steve, this is a great article and we should ensure that this is used to promote the campaign to save 6Music. I have listened to 6 since it started. It was like a breath of fresh air at the time and exciting that music I was into was getting represented on radio and offering more bands that i had never heard of. It has had bad moments too as I never understood why George Lamb was added! I have even been on your own show on the Good Day Bad Day where I was talking about T in the Park and was rather hungover! I can’t buy into the idea of demographics that is being used for 6. The petitions that are being signed are being signed by people aged 18-70! The Trust believed that it would be easier to scrap 6 due to the “demographics” and they clearly thought that the listeners would sit back and just say “that’s a shame” and move on! FAR FROM IT! 1Xtra is carbon copy of what is played on Radio 1 a lot of the time. It has very few listeners yet it survives! It’s not as easy politically to ditch 1Xtra. Radio 3 is hugely expensive. I don’t wish for it to be axed but for an FM station it does not perform well if we are now going to start looking at costs and listeners. As far as BBC3 is concerned, it is unthinkable that it survives. It is BBC trying to be Channel 4 and failing BIG style. BBC4 is OK but usually repeats. The Trust should axe both of them and admit they have failed with Digital and try and start again! We will still keep fighting to keep 6Music going. If not then, will have to make do with NME Radio and Kerrang as well as some foreign stations on internet! ****SAVE 6MUSIC******

Brilliantly put Steve. Your show is where I go immediately after Eddie Mair has given me the headlines of Radio 4 on the way home.

Which I guess says it all. – For many of us Radios 1 & 2 are not the alternative to 6Music – 6Music IS our music station against Radio 4, 5Live for some, and even things like Late Junction on Radio 3.

In the same way that Classic FM is culturally incomparable to Radio 3, 6Music will be incomparable to any commercial competitor to fill its shoes.

Advertisers will not support innovative programming such as The Freak Zone, Jarvis Cocker and the host of other niche programming provided by the station. It is the duty of the BBC to provide innovative, niche programming that cannot be delivered by the commercial sector.

Alleged low audience figures are down to the failure to date of the DAB platform which a) sounds worse than FM; b) doesn’t work properly in cars and c) is a UK only standard which therefore cannot merit serious investment by car makers and major audio manufacturers.

Audience figures at circa 700,000 are not surprising given the handicap of the current DAB platform. The DAB platform’s future will be cast into further doubt by the closure of 6Music. Nevertheless, formats are transitory – DAB might be irrelevant – it’s possible that in 5 years time we’ll be listening to radio at home over broadband and over G3 mobile broadband in the car putting all radio on a level playing field – I may be right or wrong about the technological future but the current handicap of no FM support is without doubt part of the audience problem. 

I could argue that 6Music audience figures are not low in relative terms. I understand that Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin Radio) has a national reach of 880,000 over 3 (not 1) radio platforms (excluding internet and TV) – FM in London & M25, DAB nationally and AM nationally. This figure makes the reach of 700,000 (and growing) for 6Music exceptionally strong. It will be interesting to see the undoubtedly improved listener figures following the announcement.

There are equally passionate arguments to be made for the Asian Network, however I am not its target audience. I would though say that in these times of tension within the Asian community, the BBC has a particular duty to support integration and diversity.

It is notable that Radio, a clear area of differentiation for the BBC, has been the sacrificial lamb of the proposed cuts, whereas TV, where the BBC does have strong commercial competition, has warranted further investment. This is unacceptable.

The management decisions leading to this proposal have been made as a result of a dramatic underestimation and misunderstanding of the importance of radio and of modern British music, which should be championed as a cultural achievement of global importance. Britain is a world leader in the creation of new music.

6Music has unquestionably been a key component in the resurgence of new British music over the last few years. Equally, 6Music serves to introduce British listeners to new music originating from abroad, and therefore to stimulate creativity through the synthesis of other music. Rather than closure, the BBC should show the courage to give 6Music even greater freedom to develop its own distinctive environment.

The dated terminology of ‘pop music’ is meaningless to listeners with a true interest in the full diversity of music, and simplistic arguments framed within the context of meeting the supposed requirements of a ‘pop music audience’ appear painfully out-of-touch. Modern music has evolved into a sophisticated range of domains, the diversity and innovation of which has never been satisfactorily addressed by the homogenised output of Radios 1 and 2, and indeed any commercial radio stations. It is very difficult to envisage how such stations could possibly be seen as a substitute for the services that 6Music provide, except by decision makers that do not appreciate radio and the complex array of groundbreaking music originating from Britain. 

6Music provides a valuable focus for listeners who are truly interested in music, and is an essential forum for supporting innovative British artists. 

The BBC Trust must give very serious consideration to this perspective, and can consequently undertake to oppose ratification of Mr Thompson’s proposed closure of the station. Loss of 6 Music would be a ridiculously counter-productive measure for the BBC in achieving the public service obligations.


Thanks Steve for summing it all up so well. DAB radio is still a bit of a black hole even to internet savvy people. Well done to all of you on the station for doing more to promote R6 on Twitter and suchlike than the BBC has ever done since it started. I am now a confirmed listener from previously being turned off by the likes of BBC R1, R2 (R3!), Capitol, Absolute (Virgin-who?), etc etc etc. There IS a market for R6 (and the AsianNetwork too) – the BBC are just too shortsighted to see it as usual (ref. the Cerys Matthews interview with BBCManagementLady on BBC Breakfast TV earlier this week). Hopefully the BBC Trust are taking note of what is fast becoming a huge groundswell of public opinion.


Wholeheartedly concur with everything you are saying, Steve. I said as much in my blog a week ago….

A few weeks ago, I heard of a campaign on Facebook to save BBC6music. This kinda surprised me… what did 6music need saving from? So I investigated and found out about a review that the trust and board of the BBC were undertaking. As part of the review was the possibility that BBC6music would be closed in order to save money. Still, it didn’t seem that likely and as it was a campaign on Facebook it was most likely to be another scaremongering campaign trying to grab headlines and members. I joined the group in order to keep an eye on things – better safe than sorry – and following a brief announcement from the BBC, everything seemed ok again.

Roll on another couple of weeks to Friday morning, and my Twitter feed is awash in messages of support, love and shock for 6music and its presenters. The Times published a front page story on 26th February claiming that the closure of 6music, The Asian Network and half of BBC Online is a done deal.

Ok, I think everyone knows that the BBC is a big, bloated over funded monster of a corporation and cuts in its spend are to be applauded. The majority of its income comes from the British public – you, me, everyone who owns a telly. But, if that income is being spent on the mega salaries of its executives, huge pay deals for the big stars, wastage on inefficiency and overspending on expenses, the money is NOT going where the public thinks it is. So, the leaked report published in Friday’s Times states that the BBC has to cut £600M from its spend… actually no, to redirect £600M into new, QUALITY programme making. The licence fee will remain the same, the income will remain the same, but the service given will change.

This is the biggest shock of all – QUALITY PROGRAMMING??? If nothing else, BBC6music has consistently produced programmes, shows, in-depth coverage and reporting on musical matters of the absolute highest order, unequalled anywhere in the world. Ok, the station isn’t perfect, but its as close to perfect as we’re likely to see. The daytime playlist sometimes grates, but amongst the playlisted songs are masses of other songs chosen by the DJ. And the playlist is of mostly songs that won’t get played elsewhere. The depth of knowledge and scope of the presenters is nothing short of astonishing – Lauen Laverne, Jarvis Cocker, Bob Dylan, Huey Morgan, Bruce Dickenson, Tom Robinson, Guy Garvey, Cerys Matthews….. these are not the artists they play (although they do!) but some of the presenters of the shows on the station. Add to that mix Steve Lamaq, Gideon Coe and Marc Riley and you really do have a potent mix.

One argument for the closure of 6music is that it has a small audience and is only known by 1 in 5 people. This doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny though – if a radio station is ONLY available on DAB or the internet, how can it possibly be comparable to Radio1 and Radio2 that are available across the country on FM? Its an unfair comparison. I am certain that if it was properly promoted by the BBC, and if enough people owned a DAB or listened via the web, BB6music would be a much bigger station than it is now. People who purport to love music will never tire of its output.

I’ve lost count of the number of acts championed by 6music when no-one else would. Just in the last handful of years, the station broke The Ting Tings, Vampire Weekend, The Arctic Monkeys, Mumford and Sons, Glasvegas, Florence and The Machine, Kasabian, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Temper Trap, Little Boots, White Lies, Kings of Leon…. the list goes on and on and on. Without 6music, these artists are unlikely to have pushed through into the mainstream. No-one would have heard of them and Radio1 and commercial radio wouldn’t have picked up on the 6music recommendations. The already beleaguered independent music artist will suffer enormously from the closure of 6music. With record labels consolidating themselves with ancient back catalogues and safe bet girl bands, boy bands and reality TV stars, 6music is a shining beacon of intelligent music prepared to take risks and to actively introduce the audience to new music.

When it closes, the British musical landscape will be a very different one, and new music will be much more difficult to find. I’m not sure I know where to start. Using the net is all well and good and I have discovered a bit of music via spotify, lastfm and youtube, but you need to know what you are looking for. Listening to a radio show is a bit like having an older brother and cool friend passing their wisdom onto you. The radio is a very personal medium in a way that television and the internet never can be.

Thanks Steve for putting in words what I expect a lot of “insiders” feel. Part of my response to the review consultation is the enormous difference (though subtle, very subtle) there is between your old show on Radio1 and your drive-time show on 6music (if only in-car Dab thingies worked!), as an example of what this station (practically the only one I listen to) allows its presenters to do, and its audience to enjoy, better, with more commitment, and truly adhering to the Reithian vision of the BBC.

I’ve been listening since 2002, the year I met my husband, we both feel the station as seen us right the way through.
I’ve bought 4 DAB radios as over the time we’ve moved from a 1 bed flat in the city to a 4 bed house in the Fens. There’s even a DAB in the nursery which has served for 6music listening during 3am baby feeds to what’s now the play room.
Without 6music my DABs have no purpose and if the unthinkable happens I will be posting all 4 to the DG the day after 6 goes silent.

Christine Jones 8 March 2010, 08:48

Just want to endorse everything that has been said in support of 6. It brought me back to music radio after years in the wilderness; it got me back into music and introduced me to new artists and stuff that I’d missed in the meantime.
I will be lost without it and I am very grateful that Steve feels able to raise his head above the parapet as well as giving us another place to protest against this outrage.

Just hope the huge number of folk who are posting their messages of support for 6music in a variety of environments are taking the time to formally raise their objections to the proposals with the BBC Trust.

This group of messages is fairly typical in its sentiment, but perhaps more importatntly in eloquently addressing the flaws in the logic of the BBC “management” proposal (yes I did read the document – twice, and it made no better sense second time around !). For a proposal to claim “quality” as an objective, its main concrete proposal is then to cut the one quality network in the corporation’s empire.

We all know 6music not only provides exactly the kind of service the BBC is supposed to, but also supports the development of the music industry.

Let’s make sure the Trust knows it too.

Well done for speaking out Steve.

I agree with the comment that 6Music has not been sufficiently promoted over the years by the BBC – I started listening about 5 years ago by accident and have listened ever since. The sheer quality of not only the music but the DJs is unsurpassed anywhere.

I think it is amazing how now that 6Music has hit the news because of the proposed closure more people are listening than ever.

This surely must show that the BBC have something good here. To close it would really be a sad day as there is absolutely no alternative.

I for one will be heartbroken if it goes and will protest in as many ways as possible.

Woo Gilchrist 8 March 2010, 12:34

I also work for Tim Davie’s Audio & Music division at the BBC and am upset about the proposed closure of 6 Music.

My own argument for why the axe doesn’t make much sense is here:

Some Thoughts on the Demise of 6 Music

What an intelligent piece, Steve. Pretty much a reflection of why I love 6Music and your show in particular so much: Eclectic, engaging, ‘real’offerings from intelligent, passionate (and may I say, non-pretentious!) music aficionados. Not only that, but you encapsulate and represent an important aspect of music heritage – past, present and future – that would be hard to replicate elsewhere (particularly anywhere with an overly ‘commercial’ focus).

I feel very passsionately that this should not and need not happen, for all the reasons you have already covered so well. It’s warming (and encouraging!) to see so many people taking action in just about as many ways as we can think…we’re all determined to put up a fight!

Karina Flatt 8 March 2010, 17:34

What isn’t getting mentioned so much is the fact the BBC has to find $2 billion to pay for the non-working VoiP telephony system that the management bought from Siemens without checking to see if it was compatible with the hardware it had to work with, or an adequate contract which would have made Siemens liable for selling a system not fit for purpose. Folk at the BBC are using the old phones the Siemens system was supposed to replace, and the exec responsible for the whole thing has now left and no-one still in position is being held responsible. It really boils my micturate that execs who have no interest in public service can put forward proposals about cutting content and services while being almost untouchable themselves- we pay for the BBC- fill in the public consultation questionnaire at the ‘have your say’ link at www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust
and/or make complaints at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/
Caroline Thomson was on the telly saying that one of the reasons BBC3 was continuing was because it was somewhere new programming could be developed which goes on to mainstream channels, but then said that 6 radio was closing down so that the programming could go to 1 and 5- two statements which appear contradictory to me, but I’m happy to listen to the argument which proves that they are consistent, if only for amusement at the logical knots which would be necessary.
Plus, 6 radio needs to continue because I don’t know what I’ll do with my Sundays without Stuart Maconie to shout at.

Totally agree with Steve and many of the comments here. I feel I’ll be just a little lost without 6Music, NME Radio and Xfm really don’t compare. Having the odd show moved to Radio 2 won’t be the same either, what are we supposed to do during the day? 6Music has introduced me to a lot of new music, and will be sorely missed if it goes. Surely they could get rid of BBC3 and save a lot of music? I think for people who care just a little bit about music 6Music really does offer something special that Radio 1 & 2 really don’t. I hope the BBC reconsiders as this is really an awful decision.

Well done Steve. I’ll be listening when I get home from work.

Here in America, radio is complete commercial garbage for the most part. I listen to 6 Music at work and at home because I want to hear real music written and performed by real artists, and presented by people such as yourself who are truly committed to offering quality music. Thanks to some of the shows on 6 Music, I’ve been introduced to a lot of bands that I would not otherwise hear on American radio. For what it’s worth, I’ve signed on-line petitions, written an email, doing what I can to let the suits at BBC know they are making a huge mistake.

Well said Steve, I have done my bit to save 6 music, have written to all the addresses, and filled in the survey.


After a week of writing e-mails, signing petitions and penning blog comments arguing against those who would have the station closed, to the opportunity to voice a supportive word I can only say “for this relief much thanks!”.

Writinig publicly against the hand that feeds cannot be easy for you, but I (and many others) thank you sincerely. Indeed, one of the arguments I have used in my survey response is to urge the Trustees to listen to those on the front-line; it seems clear to me (if you will forgive the presumption) that it is not the loss of “a” job that would motivate you to speak out – it is the knowledge that for a DJ (not to mention production/engineering/all-the-other-roles staff behind the DJ) 6 Music is the holy grail of music radio.

Knowing that its loss would sadden you and yours as much as it would those on the other side of the speakers is why sense must prevail and preserve this vital component in our music industry.

So once more, thank you.


To echo Christopher Day (1st comment): I had no idea what 6Music did until all the fuss about closure kicked off, and had assumed it was just another BBC radio station that would play too much music I didn’t like.

I listened in for the first time after the announcement, and realised what I’ve been missing. I’ll be listening when I can, while I still can – and if I could get it in my car, that would be a lot more often.

So: what is the BBC playing at? This is like when they replaced the Little Toe Radio Show (kids’ programme on Radio 7) with recycled soundtracks from CBeebies cartoons and tried to pretend it was an investment in quality programming.

I completely agree. I have been a listener since 2002 and have been telling people about 6 music for 8 years now (happy birthday tomorrow!!). It annoys me that they haven’t heard of the station before I come along enthusing, but it’s also telling that when they do listen they enjoy it! There is so much potential audience out there which the BBC hasn’t reached as they haven’t promoted the station enough, and they seem to know it.

The other thing which makes no sense is the idea that the cuts are in recognition of the need to allow space for commercial rivals. Can anyone seriously imagine a station less threatening to the commercial networks and more at one with the whole point of the BBC’s remit than 6 music? No!

I know that discussing alternative things to cut isn’t helpful but I also have to say: BBC Red Button, £30 million per year (as quoted in the Guardian). Who, what, where, why and how???? That is worth three 6 musics.

I agree that the playlist doesn’t help 6 music be distinctive, it would be better without it. Of all the stations it is the one where I would expect that the presenters could be totally trusted to select their own tracks which uphold the station’s principles. I count myself among those who have heard life-changing music on the station but it has ALWAYS been a track that was the free choice of the presenter.

I’ll be sending my consultation response off today and I hope everyone who is even the slightest bit annoyed by all of this will take a little time to do the same, to defend alternative music’s future. Find it at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consultations/departments/bbc/bbc-strategy-review/consultation/consult_view

Hello Steve – only catching up on your comments now thanks to the Media Guardian story – but I’ve not read a more eloquent and passionate defence of 6 Music yet.

I used to work as an entertainment journalist on the BBC news website, and covered the launch of 6 Music and have followed its ups and downs. I fled the station during the George Lamb era, but the new schedule – and especially Lauren Laverne’s show – has reinvograted 6 Music, and it’s finally found its niche, complementing rather than competing with the other stations out there.

I spend my days happily bouncing between 6 Music and NME Radio (usually switching when Mumford & Sons get played). The latter is a good station, but could never be a replacement for the wide range of material on 6 Music – they’d never play the great piece of 60s beat pop that Lauren Laverne’s just played. Commercial stations couldn’t take that risk. The BBC can take that gamble – because that’s what it’s there for.

During a moment of career crisis I spent a day job-shadowing at 6 Music and was bowled over by the dedication of the team there and their love of what they did – something that’s not always apparent in other national BBC services.

It’s heartbreaking to see the same weak BBC bosses who’ve mismanaged the station over the years sound so keen to betray the station’s listeners and staff. Especially as the network’s now sounding so good, so diverse, and so confident with some of the swagger of its early days back. But it’s sadly typical of the confused and incoherent way the BBC is presently run.

I also can’t believe the front of a former head of marketing wanting to scrap a station because he says it wasn’t marketed properly. Take a bow, Tim Davie.

But I’m heartened to see the support for the station from its listeners – this proposal can be reversed if we fight hard enough.

More power to you, Steve. Good luck.

Well said, Steve. A brave and intelligent piece. A shame that it’s so obvious that none of the BBC executives appear to be interested in, ahem, music!

Long live 6 Music!

Calum Gordon 10 March 2010, 14:03

I’ve been thinking of you, Steve and all of the wonderful people who work at 6Music, every day since it was announced – joining Facebook groups and signing petitions. Last night spent nearly 2 hours filling in the public response to the BBC’s Strategy Review.

In the same way that ‘people power’ got RATM to #1 at Xmas, we must do everything we can to ensure that the proposal to axe 6Music DOES NOT happen. Please take some time (doesn’t have to be 2 hours – I just wrote a lot!!) – copy and paste your comments from here if you want. Here’s the link: https://consultations.external.bbc.co.uk/departments/bbc/bbc-strategy-review/consultation/consult_view

Dee Barnfield 10 March 2010, 17:19

Ihave to admit I may be guilty of taking 6 mucic,and possibly the BBC in general, for granted. Having followed Steve Lamacq from fm to digital a couple of years ago radio 6 has become the default radio station in my house. Friday is Bruce Dickinson,Sat is Craig Charles and Sunday is just perfect with Jarvis and Stuart. The independance of the BBC to produce shows of this consistent quality and diversity just has to prevail,otherwise all we have to look forward to is the blandscape that the commercial dictators would have us all conform to

6music is my connection to another world. A world with less conformity and more spontaneity. I can’t begin to descirbe how much I will miss it if it goes.

Melissa Bond 12 March 2010, 20:30

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