On 14 September this year, alternative music station XFM finally closed its doors after 23 years on the airwaves, to be rebranded as Radio X. A sad moment for myself, and thousands of other music lovers across the country. XFM was a stalwart in the alternative music community and played host to top class comedy and amazing music, like the slightly more mainstream, older brother to the BBC’s 6 Music Station.
The station was a place of cultural importance, launching the careers of many of its DJs (including Ricky Gervais, Josh Widdicombe and Russell Brand) and getting alternative music out there to a wider audience. Particularly in the mid 00s it taught me the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, whilst all the other stations were playing James Blunt and Take That. It was also a place where you could learn the true classics that you just wouldn’t hear on your typical morning breakfast show, offering a gateway to the likes of The Clash, Radiohead and The Rolling Stones. For your wannabe cool kid who regularly attends trendy hipster clubs like Camden’s Barfly, it was a station you could whack on John Kennedy’s Exposure show and impress your friends with a load of new bands you’d just heard, who probably only have about six songs between them. So where did it go wrong? How did such an integral part of the alternative music scene simply fall apart after 23 strong years?
Whilst the station and guitar music as a whole is somewhat stagnating with the rise of electronic music, was the overhaul necessary? I mean once I even caught Lawson on an XFM playlist when the station was nearing the end. Has Britain gone off guitar music in general? According to Radio X’s promotional literature, apparently not. It described the new station, helmed by the likes of Chris Moyles and Vernon Kay (yes, the guy from All Star Family Fortunes), as “the first truly male-focused, fully national music and entertainment brand for 25-44 year olds”. Surely not another Absolute? This proposed ‘meat and potatoes’, male oriented station sounds like the Radio equivalent of a Yorkie Chocolate bar, and sounds sure to alienate much of its fan base. That’s before mentioning the distinct lack of female DJs in a station that previously prided itself on its diversity.
“This proposed ‘meat and potatoes’, male oriented station sounds like the Radio equivalent of a Yorkie Chocolate bar”
Despite such a damning start to proceedings, early indications are that the new Radio X is still playing good music, even opening up with Girls Aloud’s ‘Sound of the Underground’ in an attempt to shrug off the suggestion that it’s a station only for men. However, something just doesn’t seem right!
Even with the high profile guests (Noel Gallagher was Chris Moyles’ first guest) and the shiny new website, it still all seems a bit unsavoury and a little too polished! Like when your favourite band follows up an amazing debut album with a little less edge or when a really good film gets an unnecessary sequel that is pretty much the same as the first! Is it different? Not Really. Is it the same? Definitely not! R.I.P. XFM, you will be missed.