The news that Radio 1 is going to abandon their traditional Sunday evening chart countdown in favour of a Friday show bring forth some thoughts:
- Poor Clara Amfo. Given one of the most prestigious radio shows in the UK only to have it swiftly taken away from her. Hopefully getting Fearne Cotton’s weekday show will be more than consolation.
- There is no reason why Radio 1 couldn’t have revealed the new chart on the Friday and played the Top 40 in full in the traditional Sunday slot. In the 80s they used to reveal the new chart on a Tuesday (first at lunchtime, then breakfast) before playing the same chart on the Sunday. Revealing the new Top 40 on a Sunday only started in 1987 once the chart was “computer compiled” by Gallup.
- Although I suppose that would seem an incredibly dated thing to do now.
- What do commercial radio do with the Big Top 40? My guess is nothing. Stations aren’t going to give up a lucrative drive-time show each week to count down the hits. Even if Big Top 40 sticks to the exact same format their chart will be much more up-to-date than Radio 1’s.
- If Big Top 40 do change nothing they’ll still be able to say they are revealing the new number one five days before the BBC. Is there any other area of radio where the commercial broadcasters are more current than Radio 1?
- CBBC is to air a chart countdown TV show on a Sunday at 6pm. The satellite music channels regularly run Top 40 shows so there would seem to be an audience for this. Whether they can recreate the Top of the Pops magic with studio performances and memorable moments remains to be seen.
- Given you can look on Spotify or iTunes at any time and see a very current chart suggests that a weekly countdown of the biggest songs will soon be a thing of the past. Will people really go out of their way on a Friday to listen to a chart where they already know the outcome?
Having said all that the Sunday chart has been a mainstay of British radio since the 1960s. That’s no mean feat. Every now and then, at Christmas, when Thatcher dies, it is still big news. Sadly it feels like it’s going to dribble away rather than going out with a bang.