My journey to work takes around 20 minutes (45 if it rains!) and I like to listen to the radio. I’m after three things:
1/ Rock channel
2/ Popular music channel (preferably interesting rather than just the hits. A bit like John Peel, may he RIP)
3/ Classical (serious) channel
There would be a talk channel if I understood enough, or could concentrate properly and drive at the same time :-)
In the UK I knew where I was. BBC radio 1 for the latest pop/rock, radio 2 for more of a “golden oldie” mix and DJs over the age of 20, radio 3 for classical, radio 4 for speech based entertainment and news, radio 5 for the same but with strong sports bias. There are assorted commercial channels that provide variations of the above, although nothing like radio 4. They all do a pretty good job. Could it possibly be any easier?
What have I got here?
1/ EskaRock – could be better as it has a very limited play-list but is most often where I end up
2/ Anty Radio – I used to play this all the time because it actually played tunes I liked and had not heard from any other station but went very weird a while back and is now heading downhill fast
3/ RMF FM & Radio ZET – plastic pop all day long. Only good point is that they’re available nationwide giving some relief from Radio Maryja.
4/ RMF Classic – joke. Should be called RMF Elevator Music.
5/ Radio WaWa and all the others – same limited play-list as every other station
6/ The national radio channels – generally too much chatter for me but I’ve enjoyed a few classical moments on channel 2
I’m not convinced that any of these even play a good selection of Polish music. They certainly don’t play a good mix of international music. I’m assuming of course that staying abreast of the international music scene is something Poles would like to do? I think it’s a reasonable assumption given the amount of air time given to non-Polish music but perhaps I’m wrong. If you want proof of how out of touch we are here, take a look at the UK and US charts and count how many of them you’ve heard on Polish radio. There will be a few, perhaps five, that you’ve heard 50,000 times and the rest you’ve not heard. Currently, you have Kid Rock with All Summer Long and Coldplay with Viva La Vida that have been played to death and yet only occupy 9th and 17th position in the UK chart and 25th and 9th in the US chart respectively. Alongside the chosen few current tunes we’re treated to endless replays of stuff like In the Army Now by Status Quo, Kim Wilde, Shakin Stephens, Boney M, Life is Life (na na na na puke!) and other tunes that were very average in their home country about three centuries ago and quite popular in Poland in the 80’s.
‘Kings of Leon’, who are topping various charts, are being featured on EskaRock recently but is highlighting one current band or tune really working hard enough?
God help us if Wilki, T Love, Myslovitz or any other popular Polish band releases something half decent. The radio play-lists will be 50% that tune, 30% three foreign tunes and 20% Status quo or Polish golden oldies.
You only have to try buying anything more imaginative than a Doda CD in Warsaw to realise it is not just the radio stations that are out of touch. I recently compiled a list of 10 CDs I needed to buy, taken from the top 20 of a chart for “The Greatest British Albums of all time”. The list was slightly dodgy because it was hardly an “all time”, more of a “last 20 years”. Still, it contained some albums I didn’t have by people like Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Pulp, Blur, The Smiths, and so on. I tried every shop in Warsaw and failed to find a single one of them. You may as well go out in search of British style sausages, you’ll have about the same amount of luck. None. (unless you bump into Warsaw’s mysterious Irish butcher!)
The strangest thing is that it’s not as if Poles are ignorant of what is good music or current trends, they’re absolutely not. It is just that the Polish music scene seems to be underground, not on the radio or in the music stores. It thrives on CD’s purchased at the Russian bazaar (wherever that is nowadays), on tunes downloaded for free or emailed by mates. Nobody pays for any media in this country. Every time and I mean EVERY time any Pole has offered to lend me a movie or music or get me a programme for my PC it has been something slightly dodgy. Home made, copied, Russian, downloaded, borrowed, stolen….anything other than the official merchandise.
Still, whilst that might account for not being able to buy any CDs in the shops, it can’t be a good enough excuse for the limited quality being played on the radio waves, can it?
Is there some reason why Polish radio is not as good as British, or is it just me?