Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Everybody out for some sweet and sour labrador

It's always fun on BBC strike days, watching to see who's had no problem with waltzing through the picket lines. Last night, on the late edition of Look East, we got Nick Conrad, the 9am-11am presenter from BBC Radio Norfolk. Immediately, I thought "Oh look who it isn't. Not only a dog-eater, but also a scab".

A dog-eater? Why yes. I listen to a lot of BBC Radio Norfolk's output, but I'm afraid the radio goes off whenever I hear Conrad. He seems to think he's edgy and provocative, but he strikes me as terribly bland and not a little smug, which is never a combination designed to keep me tuned in. However, one morning in February, I didn't get to retune quick enough, and the intro to the show made me stay listening, because I thought "this could be interesting", and not in a good way either. Here's that intro.

Nick Conrad 09 02 2011 intro by Louis Barfe

What amuses me most in retrospect is the way that he reiterates the various points endlessly, simply to last until the end of the jingle, which is 2 minutes and 41 seconds long. After the first minute, he is talking loud and saying nothing new. Maybe he feels that the listenership is deaf and/or as thick as pigshit?

My faith was rewarded fully about 20 minutes into the show.

Nick Conrad 09 02 2011 dog by Louis Barfe

"Every animal should have a right to a human death," says one listener. Conrad corrects himself. It is unclear whether the listener in question couldn't spell or whether it was Conrad's reading at fault, but what is clear to me is the memory of spluttering coffee across the room as I burst out laughing.

Then comes David from Thorpe St Andrew, who has a point to make about the live transport of horses for food. He's unhappy with the inhumane way the cargo is treated. It is at this point that Conrad deploys what he believes to be his thermonuclear warhead, the thing that really puts the cat among the pigeons (in this case in a white wine sauce with aubergines and shallots). The way he admits to having eaten dog while on holiday in Vietnam clearly indicates that he's been bursting to drop this bombshell from the moment the show's subject was decided: "Yes, that'll get Norfolk's dander up. My canine snack will really get them going." The "What do you reckon to that?" is delivered in the manner of someone who feels he's holding four aces. Outrage will be created. Talk radio gold will ensue.

Only one problem. It doesn't work. David from Thorpe St Andrew responds in a boringly matter-of-fact manner and proves (perhaps surprisingly) open to the concept of relative cultural values, Conrad doesn't like it. When David says he's eaten kangaroo, Conrad's purse-lipped "Yes" seems to carry overtones of "YES, BUT A KANGAROO IS NOT A FUCKING DOG, SO I REMAIN KING OF THE MEAT HOBBY, THUS I WIN", an impression underlined by his "David, allow me to speak" interruption. The show is not going according to the plan he had thought so fiendish and clever. David is despatched with "Good to hear your voice, you take care", which I hear as "Good to hear your voice, but it's a shame you didn't use it to react in the way I expected. You take care. Don't fall down any manholes, y'bastard".

With David out of the way, Conrad repeats that he "ate a dog" (a whole one?) in Vietnam, and adds that it's something that "really infuriates people". Well, not everyone, evidently.

EDIT: In the interests of accuracy, I have been asked to point out that there was no picket line to cross at the Forum in Norwich yesterday. This doesn't make Conrad any less of a scab, obviously.


David L Rattigan said...

Desperate to generate a bit of excitement, isn't he? "David, why are we so funny about horses?" "Do you think it's revolting that I've eaten dog?" He belongs on Norfolk Nights, between Alan's Big Bath and Dave Clifton.

Tanya Jones said...

Christ's knackers, what a cunt. The smugness fair oozes out of the speakers, doesn't it?

Westengland said...

There's nothing surprising about Nick Conrad's presentation style - it's familiar throughout the BBC Local Radio stations as are examples of several other kinds of presenter - NC.s is "Morning Phone-In", others are "Breakfast", Drive Time", "Late Night", "Midday" and so on.

Is there any point in talking and writing about these people, their programmes and their stations? - yes, if you think, local radio, BBC radio and the BBC are important.

The Commercial network is a fundamentally different kind of broadcasting, regardless of the inevitable overlaps with the BBC. The same can be said for "Community" (sic) radio, so this Comment is about the BBC Nations & Regions Radio

On Local Radio, the BBC have perfected a type of clone broadcasting unique to the UK - everything taken from national BBC, commercial national and local and television is reduced to a form of LCD aural pap, so each station could effectively easily replace another in the network by merely changing the place-names - this is then put forward as the oh-so-caring public service broadcasting that the commercial stations and owners can't and won't do.

What it is, is what I call "Settlers' Radio" - that is, radio for (and by) the people who have moved into the respective counties and cities served by the stations and want LocaLite as part of their media culture, with the "Natives" being treated as a quaint, secondary audience. It is noticeable that the BBC city Local stations are slightly better at fully representing their catchment areas but the county ones are dreadful - with the exception, it has to be said straight away of some of the specialist evening music programmes.

The three National station, for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are better at representing their audiences but there is a slow decline into LCDism there too.

I cannot, now, listen to either of my BBC Local Stations: BBC Radio Gloucestershire (aka "Radio
Cotswolds") and BBC Radio Bristol (aka Radio Clifton) - I did try but now they're unlistenable, to me. The local commercial stations, are, as I said, a different form of broadcasting, not for my tastes, mostly but they largely avoid the "we're caring, local public broadcasting" attitude of the BBC stations.

I make an exception for the Star FM network - wherever they are, its a stripshow shitstream, 24/7.

Behind all the current networks is the fact that technology is going to turn - is turning - radio broadcasting inside out; some people at the BBC are well aware of this but what power do they have to help protect the Corporation?

Are Nick Conrad and his clones worth bothering about? Only, perhaps to cheer ourselves up by resorting to humour ( and I am at heart a crude rustic):

So Nick Conrad ate dog - what we really want to know is: has he eaten cock? - or cunt, if he's of the other persuasion ( a persuasion, incidentally, BBC Local Radio still finds "difficult"). I think we should be told.

PS: I look forward to hearing the BBC Local Radio interviews made on the "Trials And Tribulations" promo trial - you will get drunk before each one, won't you ;)?

David Lannister said...

And of course, with Conrad, when it's not dogs it's cats...


Utterly astonishing.

Louis Barfe said...

Westengland - You talk of the clones, and Conrad fits right into that. However, most of BBC Radio Norfolk's output doesn't fit into that at all, which is why he sticks out like a sore thumb. Generally, it's a station with a very distinct, laid back, unflappable and, to my ears, likeable personality. It doesn't set out to shock and confront, just to pass comment on events. Looking at it in dog terms, and why the hell not, Conrad's a yappy little terrier, which nobody else at the station is. I'm not saying there's no room for shock tactics or confrontation, just that on the basis of what I've heard, Conrad's not very good at them.

Westengland said...

I would agree that some programmes on BBC Local could be listenable even for a jaundiced native like me but it's the thinking behind the modern BBC Local network that pisses me off (including TV as well) - did Frank Gillard see it like it is now?

When BBC Local does get a chance to develop something valuable and innovative, like the ultra-local news gathering pilot scheme, it gets stifled by vested interests, who aren't up to the competition, whining (cf. BBC Jam).

One technical advance that BBC Local doesn't publicise (*just can't think why?*) is the ability now for listeners to hear BBC Local stations outside their area by the internet. This means it is possible to make lists (inevitably subjective) of good programmes through the network - and and equally subjective list of bad ones.

So what're the recommendations from East England for us over in the West (BBC Local stations only - local commercial radio is something else, as I said)?