With a weekly average audience across platforms of 695,000 in the last three months of 2009 (Rajar figures), according to the Guardian, Radio Six Music has doubled its listeners in less than one year. Described by Kershaw as “lively people with curious minds”, Six Music listeners have teamed up with presenters, trade unions and politicians, in an attempt to save the station from the proposed sacking at the end of 2011. Kershaw argues: “The audience is a bit exclusive at the moment because of the technology [DAB], but the argument about size of audience doesn’t wash, because if it did, you wouldn’t support Radio 3’s cost per listener; you would say ‘ok, you don’t need Newsnight, because you’ve got News at ten’, you know Newsnight’s got a fraction of the audience [of News at ten], but that kind of argument is not what the BBC’s about.” Still her comment comes in contrast to Thomson’s motivation for the closing, who said that the station is “expensive… given its relatively small audience.”
The state of the economy and the necessity to cut costs and spend more efficiently was also underlined, with Kershaw arguing that she is simply in favour of the music that is part of the British national identity, with playlists which she claims are only available within the BBC and which, without the platform for them, will disappear. She said: “I observe waste every day I go into the BBC. I observe waste on building costs, on transport costs, on inflated fees for some particular people. I feel this as a license payer as well, and I am quite horrified at the amount of money that doesn’t go into programmes.”
Talking about the market’s need for Six Music, Kershaw said: “I don’t want people to look at us and think we are spoiled brats [about presenters lobbying against the sacking] … I think if it [Six Music] were looked at more rationally; there was a need for it when it was opened up, there was a gap in the radio market and it is a gap that only the BBC can fill. It’s still quite embryonic, digital radio is not yet available to the vast majority of the population and it would be a shame to call it before it had the opportunity to show what it could do in competition with the established analogue stations. If it were available to all, if it received the same amount of publicity as Radio One, Two, Three and it was a flop, fine; but at the moment it’s a hidden secret.”
Anyone can have their say on saving or sacking Six Music. If you want to find out more go onto www.bbc.co.uk/6musicor better still, if you already know your position and are determined to make a change, one way or another, email firstname.lastname@example.org before 25 May.