Tag Archives: Broadcasting

The ‘voice’ of the Tory grassroots

The last few days have seen the rise of something that I find a little distasteful; and that’s grandstanding by a few high profile conservative bloggers who don’t feel the coalition is right – Iain Dale commented only a few days ago that the requests for media appearances rather dried up after he came out in favour of a coalition – for other commentators however there just seem to be a never ending stream of invites, especially from the BBC and the Guardian, neither of which could be considered bastions of conservatism in any form in recent years.

I of course don’t have a problem with people having opinions – I’m full of them, and I’d fight to the death to defend people’s rights to have their own. No, my problem is the way opinions are being construed as fact, and facts that represent us all. Commentators like Tim Montgomerie for instance who keeps being introduced as the ‘voice’ of Tory Grassroots. Now, let me put this in perspective – I like Tim, I respect many of his views, even if some baffle me, but surely he must see that he’s being played? Not once have I heard a rebuttel that he’s not the defacto voice because of his editorship of ConHome, not once… it should be his opening gambit, he provides a platform for debate and has opinions that are his own, period.

It’s almost as if someone needs to explain to him and others – the media don’t like you, they appreciate that you’re eloquent yes, but moreso they appreciate that you’re willing to say what they want to say, when they want to say it. Coming from a background in broadcast journalism, you really don’t ever invite guests simply because they make noise, you want them to make noise that will draw the conclusions for the article you’re working on. And let’s be honest, the Conservatives have got enough problems with swivel-eyed backward looking politician like Tebbit still rattling his sabre as if he’s just stepped out of the cabinet office, without further commentary from you or others on BBC News seemingly supporting his position: believe me, he’s more than capable of making his views heard in a damaging enough way as it is.

If you believe some broadcast news from the past couple of weeks, you’d be led to believe that ConHome is representative – and it’s simply not. Nothing could be further from the truth – ConHome is representative of the people that write on it: it’s not the voice of conservatism I recognise a lot of the time. Many of the article comments regularly descend into personal abuse, games of I’m more conservative than you are, and it’s a home for Little-Englanders, UKIPers in denial and those that simply wish that Thatcher’s reign had never ended: and that’s all fine with me – it’s good that there’s a valve for discussion for those on that side of the Conservative party, but it’s not representative of the party, or many of the people in the party, or many people (like me) who aren’t members of the party but are at heart Liberally Conservative.

It’s certainly not representative of many centre right,  liberal, conservative, pro-european, pro-choice, pro-change people, and again, that’s fine – it doesn’t have to be, but let’s not let the media turn ConHome, and other blogs like it, into defacto ‘wholly-representative voices’… this game has been played before, it brought the Major government to it’s knees with Europe as the killer issue, and then after Blair’s landslide it kept the party and the whole idea of conservatism (of any sort) entirely toxic.

Conservatives strive to be personal, unique and self-determining, so debate is great – we need debate: but please, let these conversations be driven by us: not by the media – and not by a gross misrepresentation of a few online discussion places as the definitive voice that defines what everyone in the centre right must think and feel.

What’s missing in radio is technical ability

I’m reliving my childhood at the moment, listening to BFBS on a Saturday afternoon while playing with my favourite toy, I’ll admit the toy has changed – it’s now my MacBook rather than my Lego, but I’m struck by how little has actually changed: this is still a radio station playing a really wide selection of music: not pandering to the chart or stuck so deep in the Labrini girl past that it sounds the same every day.

BFBS was really the first radio station I properly listened to; I learnt about timing, talking up to vocals and trimming jingles, the technical stuff I practiced over and over in my bedroom. But more importantly than that I learnt a key aspect of good radio – personality matters. ‘That was – This is’ radio dominates the dial these days, the only place you don’t hear it generally is tiny indies and the BBC, my issue with this is that there’s now no stepping stone from the indies to the mainstream, and the BBC are slowing replacing radio talent with celebrity and thinking that it’s the same thing.

Radio is a technical medium: the very best in the business have always been technically superb – whether it’s Kenny Everett, Noel Edmonds, Chris Tarrant, Bruno Brookes or Tommy Vance – all of them have one thing in common, they were superb producers who knew their kit, who understood timing and who could blend entertainment with technical interest in both the studio production and the music itself.

Radio should make you smile, it shouldn’t just be about cramming in a liner card read before thumping out another set of adverts. Automation is often blamed for this, but the computer playing the music isn’t the cause – it’s laziness and a dogma like format that’s created slaves to the playlist. You can’t listen to commercial radio now without hearing songs cut short, vocals crashed and links rushed; the talent these days is fading away – and once it’s gone so will the ability to learn from it. So stand up for your local radio stations, get involved and don’t put up with generic gobs on sticks who don’t entertain you and don’t care about the importance of being technically good.