The Radio 1 voidscape

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Does Chris Moyles’ departure from Radio 1 spell the end of the real DJ? Is it now just down to a popularity contest rather than talent?

With Chris Moyles and the team leaving Radio 1 later this year, the BBC are in the final throes of shedding their vestiges of World Class. I’m not saying Moyles is perfect, but as egotistical people who love the sound of their own voice go, he’s far more entertaining than most. Love him or hate him, there is simply no denying he is a world class jockeyer of discs.

Moyles loves his craft and makes the art of broadcasting effortless. The split-second timing of talking over record intros, the control of the audio, and mastery of the studio effects shine through his performances, day in day out. And that is something that nobody else at Radio 1 has any more; in fact it’s a dwindling quality across the entire industry. The only person remaining at the station with any form of world class in them is Pete Tong, and I suspect it won’t be long before he abandons ship.

Over the last five or six years the station have been gradually replacing all the people with flair for the art, with people who are merely popular — usually from TV. Vacuous drones like Fearne Cotton, Edith Bowman, Reggie Yates, Vernon Kay, Greg James, Huw Stevens, Sara Cox, Trevor Nelson, Nick Grimshaw, Matt Edmondson, and excitable wannabe fanboy Zane Lowe, to name but a few. We’ll sidestep the thirty-year in-joke that is Tim Westwood; and Annie Nightingale who, in her seventies now, really shouldn’t be anywhere but pottering about in her garden with the azaleas.

As digital convergence marches onward, the station want to draw young listeners to radio and feel that giving the job to anyone who has a media friendly face will do the trick. It won’t. You need people who know the craft, work hard, and love excelling just for the sake of it. Moyles has that.

He’s not alone, but the list is waning. For all his faults and (nowadays) strange adherence to ludicrously boring features that have outstayed their welcome, Chris Evans is world class. So was Tony Blackburn in his heydey. Chris Morris is. Si James and Hill are. Ugly Phil is. Even long-time stand-in Kevin Greening RIP had an indefinable something about his performances that made them world class.

Sadly, the need to be good in a studio is being replaced with mediocrity. It’s not that I don’t relate to the presenters any more because I’m an old bastard; I can appreciate a good performance when I hear one, regardless of demographic, from someone who knows what they’re doing at a mixing desk.

If it’s any consolation, Radio 1 are not the only people suffering. But as it’s the flagship station of this ever-dwindling shell of a country you’d expect them to at least try to maintain a semblance of standards and attract people who love music to death, and know how to communicate that fact to like-minded people.

Moyles loves music; Moyles loves his work. He is undoubtedly going to leave a vacuum when he leaves that nobody at the station can fill, and the top brass simply aren’t looking in the right places for fresh talent to save the industry.

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