FEATURE: A Change Will Do You Good: BBC Radio 6 Music: Changes, Progress and a Christmas Celebration to Remember




A Change Will Do You Good


IN THIS IMAGE: BBC Radio 6 Music presenters united (Top Row: Iggy Pop and Huey Morgan; Middle Row: Chris Hawkins, Mary Anne Hobbs; Craig Charles, Marc Riley and Tom Ravenscroft; Bottom Row: Shaun Keaveny, Lauren Laverne; Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie and Steve Lamacq)/IMAGE CREDIT: Kind permission granted by Steve Paul Myers (his work is also available through Paper Voice)

BBC Radio 6 Music: Changes, Progress and a Christmas Celebration to Remember


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IN THIS PHOTO: Shaun Keaveny (who leaves the breakfast show on BBC Radio 6 Music after eleven years to take charge of the new early-to-mid-afternoon show in January)/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/PBJ Management 

to describe BBC Radio 6 Music’s changes and what will happen in 2019! It might seem strange that we are going to see much-loved D.J.s in new slots but, at the end of the day, we are not losing anyone! It is almost like a family: having that bond and safe set of voices that guides you through life. If one/more of them has to move away or our comfortable routine is disturbed then that is hard to get the head around. I was a bit shocked when it was announced a few of the station’s D.J.s were going to new timeslots. I have written about it before but it is worth repeating. Shaun Keaveny  - who is currently doing the breakfast show and has been for eleven years – will be replaced by Lauren Laverne; Keaveny will take the afternoon slot currently occupied by Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe (who is on sabbatical/medical leave as he is getting treatment for cancer). It is a simple change and, to be fair, lasting eleven years in a breakfast slot is impressive going! It is the oddity of not hearing familiar links and jokes that time of the morning. Laverne will bring a lot to the new show and it will be great but both D.J.s’ strong suits might have to be cut of revised. Is a more refreshed Keaveny going to be a lot less moany (if it is a word?!) and angered?


 IN THIS PHOTO: Lauren Laverne (who will move from her 10 A.M.-1 P.M. slot to the new 7:30-10:30 A.M. breakfast show as part of the station’s line-up change)/PHOTO CREDIT: Boden Diaries

There is something wonderful hearing him have a bit of a go in the morning and, whilst we might lose some of his links/beds; it will provide a chance for new features to come through and a different show. I always tune into Lauren Laverne’s show because of the audience-led segments: Desert Island Disco, Memory Tapes and Biorhythms are wonderful intriguing and it is good to be involved with the show. I guess that cannot continue on breakfast – as people would have to get up earlier and would the tone be suitable? – but I hope not too much is lost. I am interesting seeing what new changes come into the breakfast and afternoon shows and, with Laverne taking a bow and moving from the ten-one slot; it provides a chance for Mary Anne Hobbs to fill that position. Chris Hawkins (whose show I love), who is before Shaun Keaveny in the morning, gets an extra half an hour and, apart from that, there are not a lot of changes – Radcliffe and Maconie, in a controversial move, are on weekends during the morning (I was shocked such a decision was made by the BBC!). No radio station can last with the same format and line-up for so long and the fact there is such retention and loyalty at the station is testament to the dedication and love each D.J.s has for BBC Radio 6 Music.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Mary Anne Hobbs (who takes over Lauren Laverne’s mid-morning/early-afternoon time slot next year)/PHOTO CREDIT: Jessica van der Weert

A rested Keaveny can add something different to the afternoon slot and I think it is great to see two female D.J.s side by side. It is the first time the station has had a female breakfast host and, with BBC Radio 2 employing Zoë Ball to replace Chris Evans, it is a positive change that many did not see coming. Sara Cox is doing her own drivetime show – the first woman on the station to do that for I don’t know how long – and Jo Whiley will also get a chance to step out and present a show. It is good to see changes because, as much as anything, there is more gender equality and a chance for D.J.s to try new slots. If you have the same thing every day, yes, it is comfortable and familiar but there is never anything new and progressive. Maybe it will be a while before all at BBC Radio 6 Music (those affected) adjust to their new roles but, before you know it, it is like nothing has happened. I think Justin Moorhouse said it best when speaking with Shaun Keaveny earlier this morning. The personal shift is like moving furniture around the house. It looks new and fresh but, essentially, it allows for more room and benefits everyone.

There will be, however, a bit of a tear in the eye when we see the ‘final’ shows from Shaun Keaveny, Lauren Laverne and RadMac in a matter of days. I shall come onto the special celebration that is happening but how will we see the breakfast show bow out? Is Keaveny going to get emotional or will it go out with a bang?! (It sounds like I am pensioning them off!). I know Lauren Laverne will keep it strong and together (or maybe not?) but her faithful following are used to her delighting us before lunch and it seems strange that she will no longer be there. It is great, as I have said, Mary Anne Hobbs gets more airtime – she is currently in the position RadMac will occupy next year – and, whilst there are some small movements, it adds to a big change. Many BBC Radio 6 Music listeners have voiced their concern and sadness things will change but it is a positive move that will benefit the station. You only need to look at the listening figures to know BBC Radio 6 Music gets stronger by the year and, as we move towards 2019, that will continue without compromise. I feel, even though no new D.J.s are coming in, many new listeners will come through and discover the station. I feel 2019 is a year when BBC Radio 6 Music should draft in some new talent; either promoting smaller-league D.J.s who cover and do the odd show or scout like-minded stations and nab someone there (maybe a full-time slot for Huw Stevens at the weekend and a more regular run for the excellent Jon Hilcock!).


 IN THIS PHOTO: Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie (RadMac) will leave their afternoon show and host the weekend breakfast show from next year/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/BBC

It is sad to see the end of an era and a configuration alteration but this year has been a huge one for the station. I have failed to mention all the other people who have made it such a bumper year. From D.J.s like Steve Lamacq, Marc Riley; Craig Charles, Liz Kershaw, Nemone and Cerys Matthews through the music news presenters (Georgie Rogers, Matt Everitt; Claire Crane and Elizabeth Alker); to the producers and assistants that make every drop and note of the station’s output as strong and memorable as possible! I have left some people out but, in truth, every one there is essential and it is the variation of BBC Radio 6 Music that makes it what it is. So many radio stations are rigid or beholden to a very particular style of music. Whether mainstream Pop or the less adventurous and cool; there is nothing that comes up to the standard and eclecticism of BBC Radio 6 Music. There were fears and concerns, when the station launched in 2002, that they were too aimed towards blokes, guitar music and not a lot else. That position seems to be occupied by Radio X (or ‘Lads F.M.’, as it should be branded!) but you cannot accuse BBC Radio 6 Music of being only about Alternative sounds. So much of the music I have discovered this year is because of the station and it is impossible to switch over.

From the early morning uplift and humour through to the different tones of the later day; it is a pleasure to hear different voices provide endless pleasure and new music. That blend of classics sounds the best of the underground is what makes it such a strong station. I have featured so many artists who have been played by BBC Radio 6 Music and they always get such a boost and buzz from that. Special guests (from comedians and actors to public figures) offer something different and the live sessions and immense. So many of the bigger artists emerging have BBC Radio 6 Music to thank for getting them where they are! I have to thank every one of the people who works at the station for giving me such a boost and sense of guidance in a difficult year and, as ever, the ultimate ambition is to have my own show (or a one-off) playing some cool music and being sat in a very special and sought-after space. I am confident all the changes will lead to a refreshed and ever-moving station and it will be interesting to see what everything sounds like in 2019. There is not a lot more I can add to that side of things – I have written about the station a bit this year – but I know everything will be awesome and, whilst change is sad and strange, we will all love what is coming up.



I am in two minds whether to apply for tickets to go to the station’s Christmas party on Friday 14th. It is the last shows of the year for D.J.s like Keaveny and Laverne and it is a handover show where all the D.J.s that are moving (not including Mark Radcliffe, I do not think) will be under the same roof and get to say working alongside one another. Rather than having a sad and teary goodbye (there will be some, I guess…) it is going to be like the last day in the office – everyone bringing food and having a laugh before heading off for Christmas. I would love to be there but not sure whether I can wangle the day off and where I will be. I shall make the pitch and see how things go but I know there is an awful lot of competition to be in (the legendary) Maida Vale – it will be one of the last time the iconic studios are going to be used before they are closed and no longer part of the modern tapestry. I know a few of the D.J.s have had a rather tricky time this year for personal reasons and it seems the entire BBC Radio 6 Music family have pulled together...and that includes the listeners. It is that shared love and support that not only makes the station such a tight-knit and compelling compulsion but it will mean, a week from Friday, the fans and D.J.s will be able to get together and celebrate the end of a wonderful year!



I am not sure what is planned regarding surprises and guests -but it will be great hearing everyone together and in such good spirit. There will be shows between 14th and next year but it will be the last time we will see the classic, established line-up in their familiar places. Head over to the BBC Radio 6 Music page and you can get a chance to attend the all-day party (I think you need to email each individual show for tickets). I know Mary Anne Hobbs is doing a live Desert Island Disco on Laverne’s show and Keaveny has some treats in store; Maconie will be there and it will be good to hear what he has to say. It will be a festival and great day that you will not want to miss out. Send an email in and state your claim to a couple of golden tickets – to a great party that ends a fabulous year for BBC Radio 6 Music! I will wrap things up…but there are loads of reasons to follow BBC Radio 6 Music into the New Year and discover what they have in store. It might be weird for someone to write so extensively about a radio station but, like many, radio is an essential portal that allows escape, connection and eye-opening discovery. Although I have only met Matt Everitt from the station; I feel like I know everyone there and it is like being part of this rather large and broad family! Let’s not be sad that there are changes and things will be different: celebrate the end of a big year for BBC Radio 6 Music and make sure you tune in and listen to the new shows next year. Things are changing but, y’know, staying the same. It will be odd to hear something familiar yet not quite as we remember and, soon enough, we will all get used to it. I know many people have to thank BBC Radio 6 Music for so many reasons – I am very much included in that. It is only left to say a big thanks, happy Christmas and here’s to...


PHOTO CREDIT: @rawpixel/Unsplash

A wonderful New Year!