If one were to document the trials and tribulations of the radio industry into a carefully crafted fairy tale, BBC 6Music would star in the leading role. Frequently characterised as the digital underdog of the BBC radio family; a fledging younger sibling to the manic wake up call of Moyles or the dulcet tones of Wogan, the station has finally made its mark.
On Monday evening the annual Sony Radio Academy Awards took place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, with 6Music triumphantly claiming the event’s most prestigious award – UK Station of the year. Few could have predicted such success two years ago when the BBC decided to discard the station when it was viewed as excess to requirements in a period of necessary cost cutting. With outrage rife, musicians, politicians and the public issued support for BBC Radio’s youngest son and thankfully kept its eclectic and vast array of musical styles and programming on the airwaves – a breath of fresh air.
Perhaps the most defining conclusion to take away from the events of Monday evening is the fact 6Music is the first digital station to ever receive the award. Indeed the availability of digital radio is more accessible than ever before, even in 2010 when the station was on the verge of closure.
Yet the triumph of 6Music is not simply via a path of natural technological progression. The station has earned its listeners with consistent, enjoyable programming that varies even during daytime hours. Where more established radio networks hide those who do not fit the mould of an unremitting, bi-hourly daytime loop away in the 1am slot for those fortunate (or equally unfortunate) enough to be awake – 6Music confidently bounces between beats and poetry with Cerys Matthews on a Sunday morning, Giles Peterson’s groove on a Saturday and Steve Lamacq’s showcasing of unsigned artists on weekday afternoons. To name but a few. Each DJ demonstrates both a passion for the music they play and a respect for those who will listen.
On winning, Songlines columnist and 6Music presenter Cerys Matthews commented on the station’s success: “We would like to say thanks to all those listeners who saved the station in the first place and the listeners who keep supporting those of us with eclectic and varied programmes.”
There is much to be taken from the night, not least the recognition of a station whose sole purpose relies entertaining its audience with music from all corners of the globe. Cerys concluded her sentiments perfectly: “Please keep being vocal to the BBC – it is ours after all.”