I don’t often write letters of complaint or bad reviews. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth; I worry about the person receiving negative feedback. That person could be me. If I don’t like something or the way I’ve been treated, I take a deep breath and count to ten. It will usually pass. Actually, I did write a bad review once, but it was just on Trip Advisor and I was in a super sh*tty mood. You can read it here if you like – it’s under my husband’s nickname, but if you read this blog even just a little bit, you’ll know it’s me.
Anyway, I have recently been moved to write a letter of complaint again. It’s tongue-in-cheek really, and I hope the recipient will take it as such. But there’s just something that has been bugging me for years and I’ve been promising my children I would do something about it. So, today I’ve decided I will. This is a copy of an email that I am honest-to-goodness, hand-on-heart just about to sent to a local West Country radio station by the name of ‘Heart FM’. And I’m sorry, but they’ve really had it coming.
I have been listening to your radio station in my car for some years now – on the way to work and on the return from work (like most people). But only sporadically. There’s a reason for this which I am about to divulge to you. You’re a fundamentally good radio station and, for the most part, I like your DJs. Your travel and traffic updates have saved me from certain chaos and late-to-work-ness (real, and in no way made-up, word) on many an occasion. You SHOULD be my radio station of choice for that reason alone. But alas, you cannot be.
You see, it’s like this. Your music selection is dire. Okay, let me back-up there a bit. Not all of the music is ‘dire’, as such. But it has simply been played to death BY YOU on so many occasions, that I am sick to the back-teeth of hearing it. Your station has a couple of taglines that they like to use; ‘more music variety’ and ‘the best music from the 80s, 90s and today’. But that isn’t really the case, is it? What you actually mean is, you’re playing the music that you’ve already paid for and so you think to yourselves, ‘I know, I’ll get my money’s-worth and play it all of the live-long day!’. That would be acceptable (if annoying), if it was fairly current music. Most radio stations must adhere to their top-40 playlists. But you don’t play current music from today. You play music that is just over a year old, and that we’re all nauseated with hearing. You don’t actually play a variety of 80s or 90s music either, per se. What you play, on an alarmingly regular basis, is this:-
‘Return of the Mack’ by Mark Morrison (hated this record even when it came out and like it even less now), Cira 1996
‘Finally’ by Cece Peniston (so very dull 24 years after its release), Circa 1992
‘What is Love‘ by Haddaway (seriously, why would you continue to play this?,) Circa 1993
‘Want to Want Me‘ by Jason Derulo (not that old but now want to top myself whenever it comes on), Circa March 2015
That’s not variety, is it? And you play these things again and again, like you’re doing us a favour, with a jaunty little comment like, ‘Ooh I love that one, haven’t heard it in ages, that really makes me want to get up and move!’. But you forget to mention that horribly dated song has been played five times that same day by your station. And five times the day before. And the day before that. But you see, I’ve noticed. And, apart from weekends, I only listen to your station for approximately an hour a day. So I can’t be the only one.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘why doesn’t she just switch radio station if our music bothers her so much?’. Well, I’ve tried that. Radio 1 lost my patronage the day they got rid of Chris Moyles on the breakfast show. I know they did this on purpose because they wanted rid of over-forty-year-olds like me. Their music is now so horribly current (club music, really); so soulless and torturous and monotonous, that I won’t darken Radio 1s doors again. I know, I sound like my own Dad. But there it is. Current ‘popular’ music is, for the most part, rubbish. Even my 16 year-old-daughter can’t listen to it. She wants music she can sing along to. You can’t sing along to any of that noise.
I sometimes switch over to Radio 2. I quite like Chris Evans, I quite like Steve Wright (they’re the DJs who are always on during my morning and afternoon commute). But their ‘celebrity guests’ get on my very last nerve. I don’t want to know when their new book is released or when their new play opens on the West End. I once had the misfortune of listening to Jeremy Vine (when I had to leave work early for a meeting), but I hate talk-radio more than anything in this world. And the subject matter was SO unbelievably depressing that I nearly had to string myself up by the time I got to the meeting.
I’ve tried Classic FM, too. But let’s face it, I’m just not that classy – and even if I were, Classic FM only plays classical music for the masses anyway. There’s only so many times you can listen to the ‘theme from the Hovis commercial’ and not want to drive your car off a cliff.
You’re now possibly thinking, ‘well, why doesn’t she get a DAB radio in her car and then she can listen to anything?’. I drive a rather dilapidated 2003 Ford Fusion (which probably came out about the same time as some of the more up-to-date music you play). And it isn’t a ‘Fusion Plus’, or a ‘Mk II’ or a ‘Zetec’. It’s your bog standard, first edition, basic Ford Fusion. It’s got blank buttons on the dashboard where more elite Fusions have added extras (like air-con or…well, I don’t know what, because I don’t have any of those things!). But they put those buttons there, all blank and doing nothing, as if to say, ‘look what you could have had if you’d forked out a bit more money!’. It doesn’t even have electric windows!! I have to use the actual strength of my own bloody arm to open and close them! Anyway, I digress, the upshot of that is – my car stereo has a basic radio and a tape player. Yes, you heard it right, a tape player. I don’t even have any sodding tapes anymore! Nobody does! So just to be clear, I intend to run that b*stard Ford Fusion into the ground (just like with all my other cars), and I am not prepared to spend even a tiny bit of cash on it for upgrades like car stereos. All it gets is MOTs and the cost of mechanical repairs so it will drive. THAT’S IT – until it dies. And since I don’t have any tapes anymore (like the whole population of the entire world), I’m forced to listen to bog-standard FM or AM radio.
So, that’s where you come in, Heart FM. You could really clean up with disillusioned, disenfranchised radio listeners like me; people who just want to sing at the top of their lungs on their way to and from work to cheer themselves up a bit. But you’ve let a good opportunity slide in what I can only glean is a cost-cutting exercise. You can turn this around, though. Here’s how; spend a bit of cash. It’s time to start investing in your station; you’ve got to speculate to accumulate. Cough up and pay for the rights to play some newer stuff (not Radio 1, mindless, droning clubby stuff, but good new stuff). Or classic old stuff that you don’t hear very often. Mix it up a bit. Chuck your Mark Morrison, Cece Peniston and Haddaway tracks in the bin. That’s tired, worn-out music now. Just like Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’; maybe acceptable once, but now needs to be wiped off the face of the earth, and the playlists of radio stations and wedding reception DJs alike. It’s a simple mantra you might like to use; play good music, be kind of amusing in between, play good music, be kind of amusing in between. If you want, I can pop down and help you chose a few tracks – free of charge. Well, you can pay my travel expenses, that’s all. It would be no trouble and would probably make a nice day out. Oh, and I like my coffee white, with one sweetener.
Adele (not Adele the singer, the other one)”
So there is my letter of complaint. I don’t honestly expect a reply or a letter of gratitude and thanks, or an invite down to the station to sort it all out for them. It’s more likely their lawyers will get involved. But I did it for you, my lovely blog readers. Well, sort of. A) I thought it would be a laugh, and might even make a mildly amusing blog and B) I hoped that perhaps the power of the written word could change the face of music on popular local radio. But mostly, it was for a laugh *holds beath, clicks ‘send’ and seeks legal representation*.