XFM's losing me

by Suw on May 11, 2007

For nearly ten years now I've been a fan of XFM. I remember the excitement I felt when they got their license and I finally had a radio station that played stuff I loved. And I remember the sense of loss when I moved away from London and could no longer get XFM on the dial … then the delight when I found them on Sky Digital and when they started broadcasting over the web so that I could listen no matter where I was.
Indeed, Kevin bought me my DAB radio last Christmas specifically so that I could listen to XFM without having to deal with the nasty artefacts left by whichever crappy codec they were using for the live stream.
(Of course, their stupid decision to make you have to register to access their live stream and the change to a Window-only codec really screwed their internet listeners. That was a totally idiotic thing to do.)
But now, well, a lot of the joy I used to feel has dissipated. In the last month or so they've lost Richard Bacon, Lauren Laverne and Iain Baker. They'd sidelined Iain for a long while, so I understand why he left, but they gutted their daytime line-up too, leaving only the fabulous Ian Camfield on the drive time show. The replacement DJs, Marsha, Tonks and some bloke called Graeme, are really weak – whilst I am sure they are all lovely people, they just don't have the charisma or style to successfully pull off a daytime show.
Worse than that, the playlist has gone from being nicely varied with lots of new indie bands to the sort of heavily repetitive and limited list that makes Radio 1 tedious and boring. (Of course, shitty playlist decisions, a hideous desire to be 'down wiv da yoof', and godawful DJs also makes Radio 1 tedious and boring.)
I hate to say it, but I'm on the verge of deserting XFM completely. And you know what pains me? The fact that the best station I can find on my DAB radio is bloody Virgin Xtreme. Virgin. Xtreme. Gah. That's like suddenly realising that you like the music on Radio 2. But the truth is that their playlist is more interesting – in just a few hours yesterday I heard lots of new stuff by bands that I've never heard on XFM but which would fit it stylistically, and only one song that made me want to stab the DJ.
The trouble with Virgin Xtreme is that it's almost like internet radio – almost no DJ interaction at all. I don't really listen to the radio to discover new music – although a varied and new playlist is important – because if all I wanted was to find new music, well, there's Last.fm for that.
I listen because I want to be entertained by the DJs, I want to hear people who I think are like me, who talk about things I'm interested in, who care about their listeners. I want my day given shape by the changing of DJ shifts, by the news and weather, by Paul Anderson's Movie Minute, by the X-List. I want Music: Response to be the signal that 7pm has arrived and that dinner will be late tonight. I want to hear human voices.
But XFM is failing its listeners. It has lost its sheen, lost its joy, lost the very people who made it special. The only reason to tune back to XFM now is to catch Camfield at 4pm.
I can't believe it's come to this. I feel betrayed.

Anonymous May 11, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Funny coincidence, my college girlfriend's nickname was Bloody Virgin Extreme as well. I also remember getting to the point where I couldn't stand listening to her.

Anonymous May 14, 2007 at 11:26 am

You've managed to say exactly what I was thinking.
The only reasons I listen to X these days are Ian Camfield, James Hyman and Eddy Temple-Morris (and I havn't listened to the latter two for weeks after they got shifted into Terrible schedule slots!)
It would appear that Xfm has lost all that “zing” it had as a young upstart as it lost all it's good DJ's 🙁

Anonymous May 15, 2007 at 8:06 pm

I bailed ages ago – and that with Iain Baker being a good mate of mine; and my being desparate for him to linger on (your pale blue eyes).
Try BBC Six Music. It's there, or thereabouts.

Anonymous May 17, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Graeme Smith did daytime radio shows in the north on Galaxy for many years that were anything but dull. Perhaps these are Djs simply doing as they are told by management?

Anonymous May 17, 2007 at 2:56 pm

I agree
I' ve been listening to X for about 8-9 years and it is at an all time low.
It really annoys me, because it was at one point good, and it could be so good.
However, things are only getting worse….

Anonymous May 21, 2007 at 2:55 pm

How about giving Pandora a try?

Suw December 2, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Back over on my old blog, Ray Copeland commented “..now the format has settled down, so do we still feel betrayed?”

The answer is yes, I do still feel betrayed. I have listened to XFM since they shifted formats, and I hate it. It’s cold, soulless, boring, and a betrayal of everything XFM used to stand for. There’s very little for me on DAB now – I swap between Virgin Xtreme and XFM, which are two very similar, very dull, DJ-less deserts, but they have a playlist that is roughly aligned with my tastes and there’s nothing else available. (And no, I am not about to start listening to the interminable BBC Six Music.)

To be honest, I hardly ever turn the radio on now. I listen to my own music, or to internet radio which, although it has no DJs also has no ads.

I don’t even bother to turn XFM on at 4pm to catch Ian Camfield anymore either. I used to have it on all day, every day, without fail. Now, it has totally lost me, lost my loyalty, lost my listenership. I can only pray that this has been as much of a disaster for them as it has been for me, and that this will prompt the to bring the DJs back. If they hired some real talent again, I’d be back in a flash. But I fear they are too far gone for that.

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