Do radio stations need DJs anymore?

Columns & Opinion, DAB, MP3 players

Will Head writes…

For indie music station Xfm, the answer is apparently no – at least during the daytime, anyway. From the end of the month, it’s axing presenter led shows between 10am and 4pm and turning the playlist over to its listeners instead.

The next step, presumably, is just to plug in an iPod shuffle and leave it on random all day and hope it’s charged up enough to last the day.

Obviously it would be naive to think that the daytime DJs chose that much of the music that they played – it’s all probably researched, defined, market segmented and demographically controlled to be in tune with the audience needs, wants and aspirations.

But six hours of what is, effectively, a pub jukebox with adverts interspersed doesn’t exactly sound that captivating.

There used to be a time when radio was the place to hear new music – although it’s been shoved aside on the one side by the showy nature of TV and on the other the instant access delivery of the internet.

However, the idea of letting people vote online about which tracks they want to hear seems a little counterintuitive. After all, if you’re sat at a PC hooked up to the internet you can probably find most tracks with a couple of clicks and Google search here and there.

Why, instead, would you want to register your vote on a website and then wait patiently for your turn to come around, if at all?

What about the people listening in their cars? How are they meant to have their say on what should be on the line-up? Internet access has yet to make it into Ford’s standard features list and just thinking about using a mobile phone while driving is enough to land you with a stern letter from the local constabulary.

Of course it could just be a stop gap measure until robots are sufficiently advanced and can take over the whole thing entirely. With a couple of DJ bots at the helm, there would be no need to worry about the European Working Time Directive or even having to pay minimum wage.


Will Head
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