Depending where you reside in the UK, you may be a listener to XFM. The original home of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, its format has largely been studenty, with a playlist dedicated to indie guitar bands, and a presenter roster of music buffs and leftfield comedians. If that's all up your street, then I have some bad news for you. XFM is soon to become Radio X - a station exclusively for men.
Of course, I haven't heard the new regime yet as it is yet to air, but the description 'The first truly male-focused, fully national music and entertainment brand for 25-44 year olds.' rather fills me with dread. Not least of all because the new line-up is headed by Chris Moyles.
"I have many shiver-inducing memories of Moyles' Radio One breakfast show"
I have many shiver-inducing memories of Moyles' Radio One breakfast show (I never chose to listen, but worked in too many creative studios where it was the desired accompaniment). I certainly recall an actress from teen-soap Hollyoaks being told she was pretty, but too flat-chested. And times when the overweight presenter would insist female colleagues explain their leg-shaving and showering habits, much to the amusement of his sycophantic little gang of studio mates, egging him on with their howling and giggling.
Still, maybe that's all changed. Perhaps Radio X will be a thoughtful self-examination of the male persona in the 21st century. But I doubt it.
"There's a word for concern: 'banter'."
Another signing is Johnny Vaughan (someone I once admired for his broadcasting skills). He's been quoted as saying "Great Britain needs great banter." There's a word for concern: 'banter'. All too often it's an excuse for making others feel bullied and awkward, and at its worst an apology for racism and homophobia.
Then there's the notion that there's any such thing as 'men's music'. Even the most muscular rock has plenty of female fans, so the concept is quite ridiculous. Naturally, the enterprise will be funded by advertising; and I can't help thinking excluding half the country's population is pretty odd way to maximise revenues. When one thinks of all the extensive campaigns for perfume, cosmetics, hair products and sanitary protection, that's an awful lot income the station is eschewing.
"Social media doesn't discriminate between male and female users."
Besides, isn't this all a bit retrospective. The era of 'Loaded' and the lads' mag is well and truly over, as evidenced by closures. We've moved on. Social media doesn't discriminate between male and female users, neither really does television. So why build a radio station that's just for blokes? It hardly encourages a shared listening experience. Indeed it's more than likely to encourage the more objectionable aspects of men's behaviour.
Will this 'exciting' rebrand succeed? That remains to be seen. It will largely depend on how rigidly it sticks to its remit. Will there really be no female presenters (and is that even legal)? Do they genuinely not want women to listen, and if so, what unpleasantness will the deploy to scare them off? Is there actually a market for such a terribly old-fashioned targeting of a broadcast service? All this will need to be closely examined if the project is to stand a chance. I'm already very sceptical, wary and doubtful - and I'm a man.
Magnus Shaw - blogger and copywriter