When I'm tootling about at home in the morning, or in the evening when I'm getting dinner sorted, I quite like to listen to the radio. I'm usually a Five Live man, but for a while, the dial was sometimes also set onto BBC Radio One. I listened to other stations, but I found Zane Lowe in the evenings to be a pretty good way of discovering new music and -- save us -- I used to find Chris Moyles tolerably entertaining in the mornings when I wanted to listen to a bit of light banter and some music instead of just news chat.
Well, Moyles is about the same age as me (he's actually about 2 weeks older) and it was easy to listen to him referencing things that we both grew up with and playing music from the early-90s. Quite how that fits in with the station's remit ("The remit of Radio 1 is to entertain and engage a broad range of young listeners with a distinctive mix of contemporary music and speech. It should reflect the lives and interests of 15–29 year olds but also embrace others who share similar tastes"), I don't really know.... but it's hard to argue with listening figures that have him pulling in something like 7.5 million every week.
I came to my senses obviously and have now more or less stopped listening to Radio 1 entirely. Perhaps he's always been like this, but it dawned on me that Moyles was essentially a big, self-important bully with a gang of cronies laughing at his every joke, and decided there was more to life than listening to him swaggering appallingly across the airwaves each morning. I still like Zane Lowe, but now I'm much more likely to be listening to either Sport on Five in the evening or to stream some music though the kitchen radio instead. In the mornings, I'm not exclusively a Breakfast on Five man. I know that Nicky Campbell isn't to everyone's taste, and many will remember him from his time on radio 1 in the Smashy and Nicey years, but I think he's got a nice light touch whilst also being unafraid to chase after the difficult questions... in fact, he can be surprisingly tenacious. I also used to like the way that Shelagh Fogarty pricked his pomposity, something that I'm not sure his new co-host Rachel Burden has shown yet, but it's still early days.
And I like the sports coverage too.
Lack of sports coverage was initially the main reason that I couldn't get on with the Radio 4 Today programme, but now I find that I can't listen to it because I find the presenters fogeyish, hectoring and just plain boring. They all strike me as a little bit too aware of their exalted position in the broadcasting pantheon as the BBC's flagship show, and it leaves me entirely cold. Plus, what the hell is "Thought for the Day" all about? Who wants to hear some leading religious figure climbing into the pulpit on a topical theme each morning? Screw that.
I may have to change my listening habits again though: football is back. As I got up this morning, thanks to Alex Ferguson's ongoing and extremely childish feud with the BBC, I had to listen to Manchester United's assistant manager, Mick Phelan, go on at great length about yesterday's Community Shield game against Manchester City. He parped on and on without saying anything of great import, and I was left to wonder why the BBC felt the need to play the damn interview at all. Couldn't they just have had their football correspondent paraphrase?
This evening was even worse: on the drive home, Sport on Five had already begun, and a panel of experts was deep in conversation about the weekend's game and the imminent start of the Premier League season. Arsenal have signed a new player today, I learned.... but as it was neither a big striker or a dominant centre-half, I was treated to five minutes of incredulous blustering about Arsene Wenger's broken transfer policy by no lesser a luminary than Steve Claridge, with John Motson chipping in about how something had gone deeply wrong at the club. There may be problems at Arsenal, but as a fan of a 'lesser' Premier League club, one that was nearly at the very bottom of old Division 4 not all that long ago, I find the obsession with covering the perceived 'failures' of the 'big' clubs more than a little tedious (these things are relative, after all - as a Wolves fan, I'd love to 'fail' like Arsenal). There are plenty of other clubs in the Premier League, never mind the rest of the football league pyramid, you know. Not much word on Martin Jol's transfer policy at Fulham, or of Steve Keen's chances at Blackburn this year. How about Nigel Clough at Derby? John Coleman at Accrington Stanley? Pfff. Forget about it.
I stupidly clicked on a link to read an article in the Guardian today. The article itself was fine, but the comments underneath seem to be full of idiots spouting regurgitated opinions with an added dash of bile and partiality. Compared to the comments on articles in the same newspaper on stories about cricket or rugby, which often genuinely add to my enjoyment and understanding of the game, these idiots drag football down to the lowest common denominator. Who'd be a football journalist if you have to put up with those idiots below the line all the time?
I like football and I support a club that is (just about) still in the Premier League.... but even so, this saturation coverage -- of the Premier League in particular; the football league season kicked off this weekend just past, but - with the possible exception of Big Sam at West Ham - the main focus of all the analysis I heard was on the "big" league -- is making me want to scream before a ball has really been kicked in anger.
Bearing that in mind, will you allow me to point you in the direction of the football blog Cheer Up Alan Shearer? LB and I (but mainly LB) have been doing this for a little while now, but we've recently relaunched and will be putting up insightful analysis over the coming months. Well, that or whatever old shit floats across our minds, anyway. Latest post: Glen Mulcaire.... before the phone hacking, the handy non-league football years.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a comprehensive (ahem) pre-season preview of the Premier League to write. So, if Wolves are finishing in the top 4, does that mean Arsenal or Man City will be missing out?