Radio: Is Anger just all Talk?

If it hasn’t done so already, the all-speech radio station, talk107, is threatening to become known for only one thing: anger. If it’s not anger about the litter on the streets, or a chief exec’s salary, or anti-social behaviour, it’s anger about potholes and the police. The recent news that well-known presenter, Scottie McClue, is to join the station does nothing to dispel the notion – even if his reactionary views are delivered with his ‘tongue partly in his cheek’.
In Mike Graham, during the morning, the station – which serves Edinburgh, Fife and the Lothians – seeks to make a virtue of just how incandescent with rage it can possibly be; in Heather Dee, in the afternoon, it’s shallow sloganeering of the “I’d be a vigilante/bring back corporal punishment” variety. If the station is meant to be pitched at ABC1s, its tabloid tendencies suggest otherwise. It all sounds terribly superficial, worryingly right-wing.
And yet, in the life of every city and its hinterland, there are huge issues and huge stories going on every day of the week. For instance, would talk107 ever do a piece about the future of Edinburgh’s parks, including how to guarantee horticulture skills being passed on from one generation to another, as BBC Two did about UK parks so effectively, for an hour last night?
And why has the station not become the must-listen-to station of all the festivals taking place in the capital? There can only be a couple of thousand arts, music, film and book stories taking place under its very nose at the moment.
And when one of the top stories of the day happens to be about teenagers binge drinking, to whom would an angry response be aimed at, exactly?
The kids themselves? They are probably not listening, because an all-talk station is unlikely to be their bag.
The parents of the kids? Which parent is going to listen for very long when all they’re hearing is that their parenting skills are not up to scratch?
The police or welfare agencies or government? Why would any of them make the effort to tune when, likely as not, they are going to blamed and, anyway, there’s little chance of learning something new or being able to engage in serious debate – which is what a subject like binge drinking requires?
Anger on radio is as unhelpful as anger in real life: it demoralises, it hardly adds anything to the debate and it rarely achieves its objective. And it can give you a sore head – which must be fatal if you are wanting to build up listenership.

Mike Wilson