Sunday, November 11, 2012
Bouncing off the ionosphere
Generally radio here is reasonably good. There are stacks of local stations full of local news and stories. Nationally the news coverage is fine with a range of political views spread amongst the various broadcasters though politicians don't get anything like the cross examination that they are subjected to in the US or UK. News aside speech radio doesn't have anything like the breadth of, for instance, BBC Radio 4 (drama, arts, comedy, documentary reports etc) but with my "Proud to be British" hat on I suspect that very few radio stations in the world do. Sports coverage is enormously important and takes up hours of air time. Sport is synonomous with football though basketball, tennis, Formula One, cycling and golf get the occasional look in.
We have a classic music channel, Radio Clasica, which is a lot like the BBC Radio 3 of yonks ago - a bit highbrow and a bit tedious. There's nothing like Classic FM
Not knowing how to describe it adequately I'll call it pop music. Pop music gets badly treated here. I've said before that the commercial channels tend to play a limited range of songs over and over again: They play far too much dated music (not so much Beatles as lots of "Hips Don't Lie" Shakira) and the playlists change so slowly that you're sure the programme you listened to today has exactly the same content as a programme you heard six months ago.
The state broadcaster has a pop music channel too - Radio 3. A quick look at their website and you can see that they're a bit staid but, then again, it looks hopeful enough. The very first programme I listened to on Radio 3 was playing modern Spanish indie bands and the next had modern world music. Hopeful I thought. Radio 3 does have some good programmes but it also has far too many presenters who prefer the sound of their own voice to the music and they play far too much really old stuff. It also has minority programming like country and western or jazz at peak times.
Now I realise that young people can access modern music in so many ways that radio is not now the key medium it once was. On the other hand the eclectic nature of radio does mean that it can do some of the sifting for you. The radio is on, in the background, you like something, you check it out on Spotify, YouTube, Internet radio or Facebook and then, if you really like it, you download it to your computer or phone and it's yours.
I've been fretting about this for some time now and this morning when I popped into town and some bloke was droning on about some macrobiotic festival in Madrid instead of playing music I decided to do a bit of complaining. And that's what I've just done. I banged off an email along the lines of asking Radio 3 what sort of music policy it has that allows it to broadcast just three 1950s flamenco tracks per hour at ten in the morning - or something along those lines. Actually I should be honest. I wrote an email and then asked a couple of Spanish pals to correct my grammar so that I didn't come across as a fool. It was interesting that they made very few changes but they chose to make my language much more formal.
The website was opaque of course so sending the message wasn't easy and I don't suppose they'll reply but at least it formalises my right to complain.