LIKE MOST people I enjoy a bit of music when I’m driving. And like most folk I have a car radio that has pre-set channels.
However, a few days ago I drove all the way from West Calder to Almondvale Centre, stabbing the radio buttons, hopping from one channel to the next in search of a tune or two. But instead all I got was talktalkrabbitrabbittalktalk.
Now, inane babble on the radio is bad enough, but all the talk – on every single channel – was of sport. Instead of soothing melodies I was informed that the FIA had fallen out with FOTA (something to do with car racing, apparently), managing director Derek Llambias had announced that Alan Shearer could be installed as manager of some team or other, Valdano expected a transfer disappointment and the Lions made it six against the Kings thanks in part to Ugo Monye… yada yada yada.
Where has all the music gone? Instead of rock ‘n’ roll we have a non-stop barrage of sports chatter.
In fact, I was listening to an alleged music station recently when the program was interrupted by a bulletin. Now, when I hear the line “We’re bringing you a breaking news story…” my heart sinks. Has North Korea launched a missile that drilled itself into a Chinese town? Has swine ‘flu wiped out the entire population of a small city? Has there been a horrible mishap at a nuclear power station? Nope. The “news” was that former West Brom Manger Tony Mowbray had been appointed Celtic manager.
All this got me thinking. Just when did all this sports coverage and manager / player / coach tittle-tattle start taking up so much time on the day-to-day news programmes? It’s sport: it’s not news. News should be the reporting of significant incidents and events of great consequence; not information about who whacked some ball into a hole, over a bar or through a net.
Well, here is a word of guidance for broadcasters and presenters. Music in the background is soothing: your mindless chatter about sporting fixtures is not. In fact, it’s as pleasing to the ear as claws being drawn down a blackboard by a screeching cat. YOU may like the sound of your own voice, but we do not.
That’s why so many people are hitting the “off” button. That’s why you’re no longer getting the listening figures that you once did. That’s why the advertisers are pulling the plug. And that’s why so many radio stations have disappeared of late. (Think Talk 107 and River FM to name just two.)
As one of my correspondents (Hello, Julie!) pointed out, she doesn’t care about football, cricket, rugby or golf. And should she want to know the results she’ll go and find them. “Sports results are NOT news.”
It’s a slogan that should be daubed on the wall of every television and radio studio in the country. Just to remind them.