BBC should axe Radio 1 and 2

Commercial radio’s recent shrinking of station identities and staff has come with a branding exercise criticised by traditionalists. And rightly so. The loss of previously great names like Fox and 2 Ten is a sad and worrying example of where the new more corporate world of radio is.
The move to bring Heart and the Capital brand to a wide audience is not without merits, but to extinguish in one quick move, well known names that have taken years to build within their communities is short-termist.
The reason for this change, or at least one of the reasons, is the need to implement cost-effective cross-station advertising and staffing. One station name, across a number of areas makes more sense than 20 different identities. Plus it allows big names (I use the term loosely) like Toby Anstis and Nick Snaith to appear across wider areas, to listeners who might not otherwise have access to them.
17 stations now carry the Heart brand – effectively covering England and Wales. So why not have a Heart national station instead? Because there’s no room, no licence and at the moment no commercial viability.
But what if there was no Radio 1 or 2?
At last year’s Radio Festival Global’s Ashley Tabor said Radio 1 should concentrate on breaking new British music and that Radio 2 was “too young”.
Like me, he believes the stations should provide what the commercial sector can’t. Two national commercial music stations on FM would be viable, as long as Radio 1 or 2 didn’t exist. At the moment there just isn’t a fair playing field.
The commercial sector should worry about playlists and audience research, the BBC should provide choice. Like 6 Music for example. Radio 1’s evening and nighttime line-up swapped into the day recently for a one-off. Zane Lowe at breakfast, playing new and interesting music is what the BBC should be doing.
As the BBC looks to save money, there is talk of axing some BBC2 content. Well that’s exactly the sort of programming it should do with our money. Not mass audience programmes like Strictly Come Dancing. Axe Radio 1 and Radio 2 and the BBC saves millions. Just from the two breakfast Chrises alone!
If the government was brave it could encourage commercial radio to be far more inventive and creative than it currently is, by reducing the BBC’s overwhelming competitive advantage. Axe Radio 1 and 2 and hand over the frequencies to the commercial sector. By doing so, those local stations that are Hearts could return to local content and not worry about being part of a money making machine. Listeners deserve choice.

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