People always ask me, “What’s going to happen to 6 Music?”, as if perhaps, working there, I’m party to some insider information about the network’s fate. I’m afraid I have no such insight. We’re all just getting on with it.
We live in interesting times. For the best part of two years, I came off the 6 Music subs’ bench, and concentrated on trying to make a living from TV scriptwriting. It was during this time that Richard Herring and I started our podcast, in order to recreate the fun of my old Sunday radio show, which we both missed. In many ways, I’m grateful to have had that time away from 6 Music. Then, towards the end of last year, under new management, 6 Music started to offer me “deps” [pardon my jargon] for other presenters: George, Gideon, Steve, Jon Richardson, Cerys and, latterly Nemone. I was delighted to do so. And I found morale there at a much higher ebb than when I left in 2007. Lots of new blood, an inordinate amount of interns, but, reassuringly, plenty of production staff and second-tier management who’d been there the first time around, many promoted: it felt new and fresh, but familiar, too. I genuinely believed that the output had improved, both music and presentation, and I was happy to be back.
Ironic, then, that, having put in near-constant cover over Christmas and with a full New Year diary, I found myself suddently working for “the Doomed 6 Music”. The first leak in the Times pretty much chimed exactly with the start of me and Richard’s temporary, one-month-at-a-time takeover of the Adam & Joe show. Coincidence? Yes. Coincidence.
I don’t need to go over my feelings again about the BBC’s decision to shut the network down at a time when, literally, no other BBC station is catering for the broad church of listeners we’re catering for – suffice to say, it makes little sense to me, and little sense to the record industry, and, thanks to the flurry of protest and publicity, little sense to a broadening church of politicans and commentators and, yay, new listeners. You’ll have read that our online listening figures are up by 50% and that’s largely thanks – indirectly – to Mark Thompson and/or the next Prime Minister, whoever that may be, for the publicity drive. (If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might seriously entertain the “loss leader” theory. But I’m not, as you know. It’s just internal politics and paperwork.) As a presenter, I have to be careful what I say, but what I started this blog entry for was to simply state how much fun I’m currently having back on the radio: the sheer volume and sophistication and enthusiasm of the texts and emails is staggering.
I have been doing radio since the early 90s, when I made my first inroads with Stuart Maconie on the old Radio Five and then Radio 1. It was a heady time. And I’ve been learning on the job ever since. (I literally learned how to “drive the desk” when 6 Music piloted me, and it was Chris Hawkins who showed me the ropes!) I’m still learning. But if there’s a better place to learn than 6 Music, I’d like to see it. I’d really like to see that.
It goes without saying, having a weekly national radio show with Richard Herring (Saturdays 10am-1pm) is the icing on the cake. For all your Collins & Herring/Collings & Herrin needs, please go to this website, or this one.