Monday, 30 November -0001

Radio Reviews: 25 May

Having fought against the axe, loyal listeners see BBC 6 Music triumph at the Sonys

Written by Louis Barfe

Louis-Barfe-newBWJust two years after it was under threat from the BBC's proposed cuts, 6 Music has won the Station Of The Year award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards. This might have been the best thing for it. From its opening in 2002, it had a small, but very loyal audience. But as the Save 6 Music campaign gained traction, the ratings shot up and have remained very respectable.

So they should. Any station employing Mark Radcliffe and his ex-Radio 1 sidekick Marc 'Lard' Riley has value. I've grown up with Riley as a benign, surreal presence. He was there when I was cramming for my finals, and now he's there while I cook for my family, introducing me to bands I've never heard before.

TV personalities rarely make good radio presenters, but there is an honourable tradition of musicians and singers, from Jack Jackson and Jimmy Young onwards, successfully turning their hand to the wireless. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp is taking a summer break from his superb Sunday show, and Fun Lovin' Criminal Huey Morgan might have to take one after lashing out at the BBC and his colleagues on Twitter.

However, Welsh singer Cerys Matthews is doing grand, eclectic work on Sunday mornings. Last week, she opened with some jazz organ, before moving on to Geeta Dutt, the 'Bollywood Alma Cogan', and then to the Malawi Mouse Boys – street musicians who also sell cooked mice on sticks. Cerys noted that the song she played was only 1 minute 50 seconds long. My best guess is they use the songs to time the mouse roast.

Matthews's interviews can be hesitant, and she referred to her guest Roger Lloyd Pack a couple of times as Roger Pack Lloyd. But what she has is warmth, the air of someone who knows what they're on about and a great, communicative radio voice.

Later on Sundays, Radio 2 has another fine Welsh musician and broadcaster, Russell Davies, with his Song Show. Concentrating on the 1930s and 1940s, he tells the stories behind the songs. Last week, he celebrated the centenary of journalist Studs Terkel when Davies recalled Terkel going on an American radio show to talk about music and ending up interviewing the interviewer.

Marc Riley, BBC 6 Music, Monday to Thursday, 7pm to 9pm.

Cerys Matthews, BBC 6 Music, Sundays 10am to 12 noon.

Russell Davies, BBC Radio 2, Sundays 9pm to 10pm.

Comeback 'kids'

Also victorious at the traditionally BBC-dominated Sonys were football pundits Richard Keys and Andy Gray, whose TalkSport programme won the award for the best sports show. The pair were rescued by the BBC after being sacked by Sky Sports for making sexist comments.

Follow Louis on Twitter: @LadyWireless or email him at:

Louis also has a new blog on

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