Okay. Time for me to put this bFM blog to bed. I would move on right now, but the continuing influx of emails shows that there's many, many of you who care passionately about the b, and its future.
For what it's worth, the bFM management have had to sit up and take notice. The story has been picked up on other blogs, and made it into both the Weekend Herald, where I thought Rebecca Barry did a fine job and was able to say a few things I couldn't – most importantly that Wallace resigned only after hearing that he was going to be replaced.
The Herald on Sunday included an item in their Scene page (one more injustice of living in Wellington is that I get that, but not About Town), although the Bridget-wannabe suggested that the move could be justified as “resorting back” to a “successful format”, two phrases suggesting she hasn’t the slightest clue what should make bFM different from all the other commercial dross out there.
Since my last post with your feedback, management have been heard to utter "ten emails doesn't make a case". Putting aside the fact there were actually 23 emails in that post, the emails I have received in favour of Wallace now number more than 70! In the interests of fairness and balance, I should also mention there have been three people in favour of the move.
So what should happen from here? A number of you wrote to ask about a petition. One publicaddress reader has done just that, and you can add your voice here. Whether it has any effect I don’t know – it may even mean bFM management entrench even further – but at least you’ll know you added your two cents.
I would like to finish by saying a few things. One, I love bFM, always have, and I hope that I always will. The great thing about the b is that no matter who is doing the breakfast show, there are so many other reasons to listen to that station. That’s what makes it different from the personality-branded commercial stations, you can have your world rocked in the best possible way by the most unknown DJ in the unlikeliest slot.
Second, as I wrote to one reader, Mikey Havoc is not the problem, he’s a symptom. The problem lies with the management, specifically at board level. My opinion is that the station would be in much better hands if it was being run by people with a history at bFM, people who were drawn to bFM because it stood for something, helped to make it what it was, who understand what makes it great, and who will fight to ensure that continues. I don’t have faith in many of the current board members to do that. As for who should replace them, I’m not going to name names, because it’s up to those people to step forward of their own free will. But you know who you are.
For a number of years now, bFM has been increasingly pushed along a commercial pathway. Anyone who’s worked within bFM knows this and discusses it regularly, and I dare say it’s become apparent to listeners as well. It’s become more about sales targets, sponsors and ratings; less about pushing new music and developing new talent – bFM used to give birth to celebrities rather than agonising over which celebrity it can find to fill any given slot.
The station needs to make money to survive, sure. It needs to have ads, and for years one of the best things about bFM has been those funny, irreverent ads, ads that we actually listen to, can’t wait to hear, and draw into our vernacular. I can’t give enough props to the likes of Bob & Scott, Wallace & Richard and now Paul for their extraordinary talent in this area. Any moves – of which there have been rumblings – to water down the creative policy (which states amongst other things, that generic agency ads are not played on bFM - at worst agency scripts are revoiced by bFM DJs) must be vigorously resisted both inside and out.
I agree with the opinion of one reader. For bFM to move forward – not commercially, but in terms of what it stands for – it needs to downscale, go back to basics. Work out what it needs to put the station to air, rather than what sales targets it needs to justify an advertising manager, four salespeople, a brand manager, credit controller, programme director, music director, editorial director, production engineer and so on. I’m not saying any of these people don’t work hard, but it ends up being a classic Catch-22 – you need a lot of staff to generate the income to pay a lot of staff. Other stations around the country – and bFM in the past – put quality radio to air 24/7 without having an albatross-sized wage bill around their neck.
Finally finally finally. Wallace has been genuinely overwhelmed by the level of support over the past week or so. If you’ve written to me, you should also share those same thoughts with him. He’s provided me with a statement he’d like to share, so I’ll let the last words on this matter be his:
I’ve been humbled by the feedback both here and at bFM so a response to listeners is fair.
I had always imagined a bFM breakfast show that was extremely well researched, informative, a bit of malark, lots of laughs. Kind of a cool National Radio if you like. And for the last 9 months that’s what it has been.
The subject had informally surfaced that there were going to be big changes ahead on breakfast. So I pre-empted all this, and gave notice. I don't have a producer, rare for a busy morning show, and that was beginning to really affect my health.
Management and the PD have a right to decide the future, and do what's best for the one and only 95bFM.
Meanwhile I'll keep doing mornings on b like it's the best damn show in Auckland!