Saturday, October 11, 2008

Forever Tuesday evening

If they achieved nothing else, my posts about the recent shenanigans on Radio Live seem to have helped bring a very promising new blog into the world. The Joy of Radio is the baby of two media studies lecturers, and is intended to be 'a collection of comments, articles, and ideas about the state of radio broadcasting in New Zealand'.

In his inaugural post, one of the proprietors of The Joy of Radio explains that as he read my criticisms of Radio Live he realised that 'there is no regular commentary about New Zealand radio'. Another post on The Joy of Radio considers some of the wider issues at stake in the arguments about the behaviour of Karyn Hay and Andrew Fagan on that fateful Tuesday night and argues that talkback radio in this country suffers from an 'endemic' lack of talent and lack of education. I wouldn't dispute that judgement, though I am surprised to see the appallingly uninformed Kerre Woodham and that cynical old populist Paul Holmes cited as exceptions to the rule.

The latest post at The Joy of Radio celebrates Radio New Zealand's Concert station, which is presented as an oasis of musical sophistication and diversity in a desert of Top 40 and Golden Oldies stations.

While there's some truth to this judgement, I can't help but wonder whether Concert FM sometimes tends to become classical music's equivalent of a Golden Oldies station. It's all very well to note that the station selects tunes from many different epochs, and sometimes plays jazz and World Music, but I wonder how often the Four Seasons gets played, compared to the compositions of 'challenging' living composers like Steve Reich or Arvo Part? And what sort of jazz does Concert FM occasionally indulge its listeners with? Is it more likely to be the twisting, turbulent Miles Davis of late 1960s and the early '70s, or the safe old standards of Dave Brubeck?

I think the conservative set lists of Concert FM and the rather stuffy manner of its presenters delimits the station's audience just as surely as the cruder antics of most talkback hosts delimit the audiences of stations like Radio Live.

Even if I disagree with some of their judgements, I am pleased that the proprietors of The Joys of Radio are trying to foster a serious and informed discussion about a part of the media that has been neglected by many commentators in the blogosphere.

And since Concert FM probably won't play it anytime soon, here's Steve Reich's drop- dead gorgeous 'Electric Counterpoint':


Blogger Richard Taylor said...

I listen almost exclusively to the Concert Programme - it used to be IYC in the 50s and 60s etc in fact in the 60s I heard on there a very large amount of 20th Century music (I listened only to "classical" music as teenager and in fact most of my life)- on Tuesday night (two of the nights I am usually acually out at a Chess Club unfortunately) Kate Meads currently has very "current music" - experimental, electro-acoustic etc etc - they don't have much jazz but they do have some on - I have heard so much Reich etc on there Im sick of Reich (I find his music tedious) - there is an enormous amount of contemporary music on there - sure such as the Dead C (or Bill Direen - I don't consider him "popular") aren't on there a lot and there is tendency to conservatism but that is a function of the presenters - Kate Mead seems open to almost any crazy thing imaginable...

Personally I preferred it as it was - with "stuffier" presenters - I hate commercial radio stations and I dont much like jazz or popular music (most of it I have to say I file under "moron music") - I do like some but most of it is not good music as far as I am concerned. I bewail the fact that (for me) the Concert Prgramme is becoming too "cheery", too "modern" and undignified, like a commercial radio station.

[But then perhaps, as well as being 60, I am strange (but I had almost the same view when I was 16 though -e.g I took no interest in the Beatles, The Rolling Stones etc) - I preferred libraries when they were absolutely silent and forbidding places but - sacred, like old vast cathedrals - as the Auckland Public and the Remuera Library were (or they mimicked such...) in the 50s - everything has declined since then with advent of Television etc.]

That said I would like to hear more discussion on the Concert Programme (science/literature etc) as well as music - there have been such in the past - but most interviews are with musicians - for me there are too many interviews and not enough music. They have kind of "hit parade" of classical music which I believe is dangerously lowering the quality of the high art usually on there.

It is true that the overall bias is not toward John Cage (although a lot of his work and also contemp. NZ composers is on there) etc but I have heard even in recent years an immense amount of contemporary music.

I cant comment on how much jazz as I have never liked jazz very much.

When I was a boy there was no TV - 3 Radio stations (with very few adverts) and they were mostly good - now there are hundreds of TV and radio channels and they are all (except for about 2 channels) mostly excruciatingly bad.

11:42 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Ah! Sounds like I should have been listening to Concert FM on Tuesday night instead of Radio Live. I tend to listen to stations in a very unscientific way - I usually sample a random bit of Concert FM during car journeys, for instance -and I haven't run across much Reich.

9:06 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

I was probably a bit too down on "popular" music - I have this prejudice from my father I find very hard to erase...obviously I have listened to a lot of so-called popular music, jazz, some country, pop (obviously my daughters' The Nudie Suits) and group called "Trolley" my other daughter Tam (violin and keyboards) and Gerhard Lottermoser (guitar) were in, Marley, even heavy rock but overall I incline toward either "classical" or contemporary... ...and my rather mordant post here is bit exaggerated - but it is stil true that the Concert Programme is very good - the trouble is unless one studies the programmes - as I used to do but don't now - often great stuff is missed - certainly Tuesday night has some pretty strange stuff.

Actually I stayed home from my chess club and was thinking about the World Chess Championships etc so I nearly forgot that "Sound Lounge" was on...

BTW the music on the Brief disc was good - a lot of variety... from the more "experimental" to the "crazy" vibrant Frenchman - he made me laugh a lot and I loved Will Christie's song...

11:05 pm  

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