Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Nostalgic fm - Radio For The Unfulfilled?

I have just been spending the spare minutes of my working day in between phone calls perusing the various news sites to find out what's going on in the world, and in between which celeb got fat this week and what new superfood will save us all, I came across a little story about a new radio station. Absolute Radio (formerly known as Virgin fm) are launching a new station, called Absolute 80s, which will be playing - yes you guessed it - music from that magical shellsuit-filled era of the 1980s. This station will be dedicated to the likes of Duran Duran, Prince,
Madonna...Chris deBurgh(?!) and expressly aimed at a group termed 'reluctant adults', society's 30-54 year olds, who want to regress back to memories of their youth that has been preserved in the cheesey music around at the time.

The chief operator of the Absolute Radio chain, Clive Dickens, said there is a gap in the market for this kind of station, that listeners of this age group 'have responsibilities, are members of families but still want to participate and have fun and be involved in music', and this radio station - which will have no DJs and be run on a dukebox type system - is the way to offer this.

There are a number of things that struck me about Dickens' statement. First of all, that those around the middle aged bracket with their responsibilities and families need something provided to them to enable them to 'have fun'. What a depressing prospect! Both that hitting middle age means you're going to be bored and unable to appreciate modern music, but also that the invention of a mere radio station will be able to solve such pining! At 22 I do already appreciate the memories that can be brought back through music, but to think that I will eternally crave for the music of my youth because it holds the only memories worth remembering...shall I just slit my wrists now?! Surely responsible adulthood holds some opportunity for fun? Surely 'the noughties' haven't brought that much disappointment?

Also, despite only being alive for 2 full years of the 80s, I and many of my friends would love to tune into such a retro radio station. True, it does not bring back many memories to speak of, but we would listen because we have been influenced by our parents' tastes, and - as with the slightly questionable return of shoulder-pads shows - because the 80s is very cool right now. It's a cheesey kitsch dream and allows for the most horrendous of dance moves. Dickens hasn't thought of this in his 30-54 year age range, either because us young 80s lovers are an unknown pocket of radio listeners, or because he wants to cover up his possible desperation. You see, the reason Absolute 80s has come to be is to fill in the gap left by Absolute Xtreme, which was dedicated to rock music but has been largely outdone by the other rock giants such as Xfm, NME Radio and Kerrang. So, are there really this large group of adults who are so disappointed with grown-updome that they wish to lose themselves in times gone by? Or is the Absolute group clutching at straws when there are so many other radio stations who have taken almost every niche going? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I personally hope it is a success, then we can get a 90s radio station going when I too am middle aged and discontent...Spice Girls, 5ive, Backstreet Boys, N*Sync...

(Original story at www.guardian.co.uk)

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