Saturday, February 13, 2010

Classic FM Grr!

Classic FM's Myleene Klass. Sort of pointless on radio

Whilst driving around at the weekend Agent Triple P invariably listens to Classic FM on the radio but we have to admit that it is starting to annoy us.

Now, Agent Triple P hates the radio. Ever since he was a small boy he has had the radio inflicted upon him. The Light programme, Radio 2, Radio 4, LBC and Capital Radio. Worse still, with all the proliferations of stations, are the endless news stations. If there was one sole saving grace of radio it is music. So radio with no music is particularly pointless. Why do people want to be talked at all the time with no control over the content?

Triple P wants to choose what he listens to and what he watches. He does not watch much TV live; possibly an hour a week. He listens to CDs he watches DVDs. He has control over what he watches and listens to. If he wants news he reads a newspaper then he can choose what he reads about. Radio, in contrast, means having to listen to tedious minutes of stuff you are not not interested in in the vague hope that there will be something you are. As news and entertainment delivery become increasingly interactive radio remains a prehistoric relic; largely spouting out uneditable, unstoppable and unedifying drivel.

Radio, because of its geological-length time slots, panders to egomaniac presenters like no other medium. You wouldn’t have anyone on TV being given two and a half hours to blather on about nothing. This delusion that you are some sort of master of the universe means that these ghastly radio people would be thrown into utter panic if they were unable to inflict hour after hour of endless drivel on the rest of the population, often for hours at a time, five days a week. Who on TV has that sort of footprint?

So, back to Classic FM, brainchild of Muslim, South African sanctions busting cook/presenter Michael Bukht (or Barry as he prefers to be known). Having been listening to this regularly (if not for very long at a time) for a month or so we have decided that it drives us mad! Now, Agent DVD's issue with Classic FM is that it only plays "bleeding chunks" of longer pieces. This, however, is not an issue for someone with the attention span of Triple P! No, the real reason we can't stand it is that it should offer a great opportunity to discover pieces of music that we haven't heard before (as we did the other weekend). Unfortunately, we had to leave the car before the name of the piece was given. No problem. The idea is that you can go to the Classic FM website and see exactly what was being played at any given time. Except you can't! When we looked at the playlist of the programme in question there was a twenty minute gap (that is about three pieces) with no programme information given. Very helpful!

Even worse is the fact that we are getting sick of the same music all the time! In theory, Classic FM is supposed to have a playlist of about 50,000 pieces (originally compiled by Robin Ray)which are randomly selected by computer to avoid any bias for presenter. Why then do we keep hearing the same music over and over again? Classic FM seems to be fixated on certain composers and pieces: Grieg's Peer Gynt, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Tchaikovsky (lots and lots of Tchaikovsky), a disproportionate amount of Max Bruch, slushy Italian new age composer Einaudi, Verdi arias... Also, there seems to be a lot of film music. Now Agent Triple P likes a lot of film music but it isn't really classical. 50,000 pieces sounds like a lot but is that compositions or tracks? Triple P owns about three hundred classical CD and there must be an average of at least five tracks on each. So that is 1,500 pieces already. Thirty-three times that isn't that much. For example Haydn wrote 104 symphonies. That's nearly 1% of your total already. With all the composers it always seems to be the same half dozen pieces played. If it's Sibelius it's always the Karelia Suite. What about a movement from the 3rd Symphony for a change? There was once an episode of the comedy programme The Goodies where they set up a pirate radio station but only had the one record to play (A Walk in the Black Forest), which they played over and over again. It's not quite that bad on Classic FM but the music is towards the Walk in the Black Forest end of the classical spectrum

Anyway all of this is nothing compared with the appalling commercials. They only ever seem to have three at any one time. I am completely sick of the governmnet one about not leaving things in your car that thieves might spot. Why is the government wasting tax-payers money on radio commercials anyway?

Why not listen to Radio 3, you may say? The thing is that although Classic FM came on the scene to plug a gap the gap between it and Radio 3 is still too large (even if Radio 3 has been accused of going downmarket to compete with Classic FM -BBC chasing pointless ratings again),

Radio 3 is like a particularly austere claret, an old Giscours, perhaps. Classic FM is a Mateus Rose. Somewhere in between there must be room for a nice £5.99 Argentinian Malbec.

Oh well, I suppose I will continue to give it a chance on the basis that I might discover something worthwhile but if any more Tchaikovsky comes on I am switching off...