First though, four observations I should have made at the time of the switchover:
- I understand the station had to save money but cutting DJs may be a false economy. I don't tune into radio to hear uninterrupted music - I use my iPod for that. The DJs are the glue that keeps me stuck to a show; them and the community of listeners that grows around a show. For example, Billy Rankin used to regularly get hundreds of comments on his facebook page and I am still in contact with a number of people that I only know because of their contributions to his programme. You don't get that loyalty and community with an uninterrupted rock block!
- Rock Radio had the Metal Hammer show and the Classic Rock Magazine show both of which have now gone. I don't know how much money the sponsorship of these shows brought in but I wouldn't have a problem with more sponsorship if it allowed the station to hang on to more DJs. (Poor Tom Russell seems to be given no time off. Are there no employment laws about exploiting national treasures?) Perhaps the Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine would have sponsored a show, or a Blues/Guitar magazine. Or, the station seemed to have a good relationship with Roadrunner Records - would a company like that not have been willing to sponsor a show? (I'm aware here that I may be trying to teach my rock radio management grandmother how to suck eggs but thought it was worth saying.)
- I became increasingly uneasy about the Real XS trails that were supposed to reassure us. They kept telling me not to worry because they would be playing Kylie. It never occurred to me that they would not be playing Kylie! Why did they feel they had to keep telling me they wouldn't? In fact the more I thought about it, the more annoyed it made me because if Kylie ever produces an out and out belter of a rock track, I hope they would play it! For example, look at the people that collaborated with Slash on his recent album - would you have anticipated hearing someone from the Black Eyed Peas or Nicole Scherzinger on rock radio? Yet, the Slash tracks fit perfectly with a rock radio playlist. So, bitten from both ends: if they are a rock station it should go without saying that they wont play pop; but if a pop artists starts producing great rock songs, of course they should be played!
- I've kept the one that annoyed me most to last. At the time of the changeover, the people in charge appeared to treat their listeners with contempt. (Thought long and hard about that, but I think "contempt" is not too strong a word.) This seems odd since up to that point, they were a station that knew how to connect with their listeners with (as mentioned already) the DJs facebook pages; a great website; and regular events such as the birthday bashes, curry-oke nights and secret sessions. Yet when the rumours about the changes started circling, the management kept a stony silence. Now, there may be commercial reasons why they could say nothing but when the news broke "officially" on another website there was still nothing from Rock Radio management. It was Father Ted who understood the listeners and broke the news a couple of days later - against (I suspect) the wishes of management. And it was Father Ted (of blessed memory) who caught the mood of the listeners and when he thought: Rock Radio's going down the tubes, so let's party! Meanwhile, Rock Radio management's response was too little and too late when they finally put a corporate-speak announcement on the website and tried to pretend that it was business and usual: "Nothing to see here, just move along and keep listening." Bah!