Radio X, the new rebranding of Britain’s favourite alternative frequency on the wireless, Xfm, was always going to start with controversy.
The press release alerting us to the change in name and direction labelled the channel as “the first truly male focussed radio station.” Aside from this being an exclusionary attitude towards half of the world’s population at best, and an outdated piece of sexist, gender-targeted marketing at worst, it is also embarrassingly inaccurate.
“Bloke radio” has been with the British populace since the 1990 Broadcasting Act allowed independent station owners to buy their own little piece of the airwaves. Virgin, Arrow, Classic Rock, and Absolute – along with its small army of sister stations – have spent decades feeding men all the Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher they can stomach. Make no mistake, as long as you can hook your new Apple Watch to the car stereo in that Bentley Continental GTC you brought for your midlife crisis, then your musical tastes are well catered for.
Moyles, the top star of the new brand, started off his new breakfast show well by mocking this kind of alienating advertising. He insisted that Radio X wasn’t just for men, claiming that “I don’t care if you’re male, female, gay, straight, white, black.” A commendable attitude, but one he soon undermined. To welcome the female audience, Chris Moyles played them a song he thought they could relate to. Love Machine by Girls Aloud. Yes that’s right, in order to play to a female base Moyles’ chose some generic pop – crooned by a group of talent show rejects – that is as disposable as a nappy and as sophisticated as a fart. I hope his choice in tune doesn’t betray his opinion of the fairer sex.
What could have been a real moment of social progression was instead passed off as an unamusing and obnoxious troll. A rick-rolling incident that will only be remembered in years to come by pub quiz question masters, but on the condition that Radio X becomes successful and relevant enough. Worst of all though, is that it took Moyles 28 minutes to play it! Oh yes, for those of you hoping that old Chrissy boy had ended the love affair he had with his own voice, you are in for an eye-rolling amount of disappointment. Also, their sexism defence would earn more merit were it not for the fact that there are eighteen DJs featured on the website and only three of them are women, all tucked away at the bottom of the page where their toxic femininity can do the least damage.
Aside from a self-inflicted aura of uncomfortable maleness, there is also a smattering of age denial. The same press release that touted the station’s ultra-masculinity, is the same one that trotted out the word “fresh” so many times I felt a draft. The “fresh” faces of Radio X are the aforementioned Moyles, Vernon Kay and Johnny Vaughn, all men removed from their previous posts to make way for the ironed out faces of the young and untarnished. For them, Radio X has become a haven where they can delude themselves into thinking that they are still too young to be sent to Radio 2, the God’s waiting room of the airwaves.
What do you expect from a radio station that sounds like it found its name when the marketing department gave a thirteen-year-old intern three seconds to come up with a snappy title? Seriously, they have the same name as what Grand Theft Auto – of all things – called their parody alternative radio station. At least Xfm took at least five more seconds to think of.
Perhaps I’m being harsh. Perhaps Radio X will be the shining light that brings radio back from the dead. Then again, perhaps Chris Moyles will shut up long enough to play two songs back-to-back.