Radio GaGa – Dubai Part 2

More on my recent visit to Batmanville Dubai where it all happens; or maybe not these days as it is very quiet there now. Nothing is ever so openly revealed in the Islamic world but you can always bet from the outset; as Don Henley so eloquently puts it; ‘There are three sides to every story; there’s yours’, mine and the stone cold truth’.
With Channel 4 Ajman now running the defunct Coast and Virgin treading the boards trying so hard NOT to be noticed, the Dubai Radio scene is getting juicy again. Dubai Eye is convinced they are No. 1 as is Channel 4 FM and quite naturally, if you speak to Head of Gulf News Radio, Vikram Dhar, you will hear how the world wants to emulate the success of Radio 1 and 2, with wait for it……..  ‘Bahrain is begging us to open up stations there’.  If only that was a reality, I would write a letter to the Queen and ‘beg’ her to have him knighted.   As of writing, Coast is off air and DJs basking in nothingness for the time being. On top of that, we have production houses from as far afield as Texas trying to slice the pie still believing they are so needed in Gotham and that includes me. So if the principle is a perception that there is a lot of ‘room for improvement’ and you are the stalwart to do it, then the road is long, hard and disappointing, but good luck. If the motive is just opportunity and money, then you are just spreading the sh*t further because there is plenty of ‘yous’ running the shows now and most are Lebanese.
Prior to 20th Feb 2009, everyone denied any knowledge of Channel 4 in a tie up with Coast. I even asked Mohammed Murad, Channel 4’s owner and sniffed around Mekki Abdulla, who set up Coast, but he looked a bit stunned at the leak. Overall I was given the ‘wait and see’ and a friendly hand, which felt more like an elbow.
Whatever it ends up as, it will be simulated British radio as perceived by a few. American radio leaves anything else standing on all counts and that means from the very worst to the outstanding best, but they do have it all and the talent. So what happened here?  Like HP sauce and Marks & Spencer, British influence is dominant in the Gulf region and that just maybe old habits, old friends from protectorate days.  It may quite possibly be the fear of too much politically educated openness which Americans verbally display and nobody is used to that in these parts. Whatever the reason, ‘American’ in Gulf media is just not there at all, with no Billboard or Howard Stern.  Instead we had the BBC or Gallop Top 50 and although remote in concept and miles apart, the closest thing you’d get to Howard Stern was Geg Hopkins or in a completely unrelated vein, Jonathan Miles. As for me, even the Bahraini Arabs would say; ‘Better the devil you know that the devil you don’t’, which is probably a British idiom as well.
With Gulf radio trying its best to emulate British radio but with no money to pay real talent and then politically and religiously too afraid to hire them anyway, the results have been very local.  Yet now, if the truth is being told and the bums I see on seats are real; huge consultancy money is apparently being spent on hiring industry self appointed gurus from within the UK scene, so maybe something will change to end up exactly the same as before.
It is extremely difficult to hire gobs who won’t offend the masses in some way or other; plus the population is completely cosmo to jungle, so most hear English as English and cannot pick up the pidgin element if spoken, or the bad grammar and heavy accents. So basically anything goes and it’s quite often quite pish. With 90% of your listeners not being mother tongue English, any wit or banter is completely wasted on most and can be soul destroying for a DJ who makes his or her mark being a little up front. As predicted, Virgin found that out quite quickly with the ‘accelerated’ sacking of DJ Revin John.   This incident was just insidious, backward and small time, but nobody but nobody is going to argue or stand up for you in any remote way, be it inane or clever once the ‘religious’ card had been played. Ironically, the lady who claimed the slaying promoted her campaign on ‘Facebook’ the very portal that those protesting devout Muslims want banned.  (Well I think it might be the next to go in some Gulf Countries, as thousands and thousands of inert web sites have been blocked in Bahrain and other states, including universities and of course the UK lottery sites. UK LOTTERY???  So irrelevant when nobody with a foreign address can ‘gamble’ on it anyway).
With no gobs on radio,  this takes us back to music-music-music content and the deluded belief that this is what ‘all of the people – all of the time’ want!
TALSIC radio as I call it is the way back to making radio wanted again. (TALK – MUSIC = TALSIC)  We have to get back to basics and I know in my soul that this is way to go.  However, if proved wrong and ‘MORE MUSIC, MORE OFTEN’ pap is really the only answer, then radio has lost its spirit. Radio has completely lost its talent already and these format kings are to blame because as really nice as some are not, few will employ a gob on the strength of their own judgment and even fewer will set out to discover their own potential stars.  INTIMIDATION!!!!   It can be quite ruthless and there is always a fear that you hire someone who will take your job as being more talented that you. It is a sort of double jeopardy because isn’t talent what it should be all about?                             If you are qualified and confident in your position and the real McCoy, then you will make it your business to nurture people with talent. I do not for one instance mean Jonnafan Roffs or Russel Brands, or a herd of other bottom line, crude to be not funny presenters. I mean, get a few with a happy, can be interesting gob if you can find them and work together.  Unfortunately,  having a unique style greatly restricts your entry and these types cannot get in initially and I think I know, because I sort of fit that mold. Odd!
It is a Catch 22 situation. As mention in earlier posts and often to the detriment of my own well-being, the clichéd indoctrination of ‘music music music’ is really a crock and cover for lack of talent anywhere else in the world; so then it must be ok to do in the Middle East. Or ‘music music music’ without paying royalties to the artists who provide and create the platform, is the  no brainer Lebanese Mafia con, who miraculously sign their way into stations and take over all advertising on all frequencies for contracted half decades or more. Despite promising the earth for the station, you’d have to be corrupt or an imbecile not to see that there is never going to be any re-investment, or concern as to what content is on air. They have the monopoly and in places like Qatar and Bahrain, they are running a monopoly. It is quite bizarre as to exactly how this is allowed to continue with nobody fighting it or no government body seemingly concerned.  Absolutely all Advertising Agencies and broadcast media dependent outfits are completely f**d I think the word is. Yet I appear to be the ONLY one highlighting the issue and fighting back.
Whatever! Playing music is the easy way out for sure and again, if you are in the biz only for the money, then take the dross advertising and run with it, because talk radio is hard on talent; being entertaining with it, is close to winning the lottery; being understood by the masses is akin to you being the next man on the moon.
However, out of all the Gulf States, it seems Dubai rocks on. Oh yes, if the radio vibe within the biz was a reality among the public, then everyone in Dubai is an avid fan and instant expert; eating, sleeping and orgasming radio like it was the be all and end all of life there.
As far as true listener-ship and ad revenue, I really have no idea who is actually bringing home the bacon, but ask around; choose a cab driver, hotel clerk or shop assistants at random and each and everyone seems to be wondering exactly what you are asking.  Ask the English set and by that I do not mean British people, I mean purely language environment, then the internationally marketed name of Virgin comes to mind, so they rhetorically query; ‘Virgin no?’ Which doesn’t mean they listen to it! But a lot of people do blurt individual DJ names and Rick Houghton appears to have cemented some popularity.
British wise, there is a bunch of connected radio people, who believe themselves to be the trend setters, the format makers. These players quite ruthlessly dictate the  ‘be all and end’ to the way we ‘SHOULD’ listen to radio. Unfortunately without ‘outing’ the closet, a lot of it has nothing to do with radio. Some are super good and like me, the passion runs through every vein, but in their case, one particular vein.  A lot really are just luvvies as Bollix Media calls them and for one reason or another are well entrenched but should not be there.  These connections harbour in the big cities of the UK and pretend to love each other and follow this bland radio format like it has been written on Masonic stone tablets and endlessly quote stats created by similar luvvies. It is a funny game, because even a brilliant talent remains absolutely invisible until a name is made and then the world is your oyster as the gang all fall before your feet and worship you no matter how outrageous a person you might be or your antics deplorable, or indeed whether you possess any talent or not.
I have never had the privilege; aura or perhaps dick size to be in with this set and have always been physically; psychologically and professionally invisible to them. Could I just be a terrible Disc Jockey or radio presenter? Well, I don’t have any misgivings there and like I say elsewhere, there are not a lot of things I can do very well at all, but a DJ or radio productions? Ho ho ho, I have the dog’s testimonials of a track record, scars on my gonads to back any B.S.  I know my worth, but I just don’t pass the network’s sobriety test for walking the format line, so I remain firmly on the other side of the void, despite some serious inroads being made in the early days.

Disagreeing with these mini gurus doesn’t help of course, as they obsess about ‘Music Policy’, the amount they can play in 24 hours, the styles, the continuity of that music and the station’s genre of music tastes, ostensibly taking them to the ‘NO. 1’ slot on the so-called ratings. Then ‘they’ have the balls to add age ranges to it with confident patronizing research claims; ‘We cater for the 25 – 35s’.  The stone cold truth here is that if you are talking of music and desire and concentrated attention, then you are probably catering to kids between the ages of 13 and 19 or thereabouts. Sure, we all like music and not all kids like rap although this is what they are given, which is again the ‘old boys set’ conditioning because they think they are on the ball and right there with the trend.  Well if the latest Gangstas Arse single is ‘the trend’; are 30 to 60 year olds, the work force of the nation, interested?  Not really, but this has to be the majority, so radio has been killing itself since the days of satellite TV and the Internet.
Before all this media, a radio station could pioneer a music policy but none really did. Listening to the old North Sea pirates and the carefree chirpy DJs talking a great deal about nothing, but talking nonetheless; without this constant hype of inane corporate station pap, it was happy radio and we all loved it. We all got to hear (what became) our favourite songs and we bred the likes of Kenny Everitt and a few dozen others who could in fact make you laugh and keep you company. Telling me the frequency of the station every 10 seconds and how much ‘MORE’ music you play along with a time check, paid for by a sponsor, is the most ‘slit your throat now shit’ that any human has to subliminally endure, but should you disagree, the luvvie format clan will in no uncertain terms tell you different, arguing that you are out touch and dismiss you with distaste.


2 Responses to “Radio GaGa – Dubai Part 2”

  1. Northern Gobshite on March 19th, 2009 6:00 pm

    God Gegs , you don’t half go on.
    But you’re right.

  2. Geg on March 19th, 2009 7:43 pm

    You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!!!! I pay for space, I’ll use it. Now here’s a little story…..
    Wait till ‘Revelations’ get posted’; better than Dallas mate.
    Anyway, pointless bitchin’ about me, start on the chronic state of affairs in our darling media industry.
    Free platform for now until they block it I suppose. G

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