Thoughts on radio stations dropping drum and bass
Yesterday I was shocked to hear from Bailey that Ministry had dropped Intabeats, the weekly Tuesday drum and bass show from 5-7pm. Soon after, A Sides announced unofficially that all D&B shows on Tuesday had been dropped, later confirmed by all guest shows.
This comes around a month after BBC 1Xtra’s schedule dropped Crissy Criss and moved Friction to an even worse slot on a Wednesday.
I never tuned in to Crissy’s show, but despite signing a petition with a few thousand signatures trying to compel the BBC to reverse their decision, it happened.
This was already bad news for true heads, but with the dropping of what was arguably the best series of shows that showcased a lot of new material and dubplates, the scene is mostly left with a fragmented online radio landscape.
Ministry’s D&B Tuesday schedule brought in 20,000 listeners last August, and really did hit all corners of the D&B spectrum in terms of styles. I don’t know how that stacks up against other more mainstream dance genres, but 20,000 isn’t too shabby a number.
If 1 in 20 of those listeners turned up to events at the club, you’d be making money. But hardly anything except the mainstream “EDM” genres ever runs at Ministry, so for me, D&B felt like an imposter scene. In fact I’d never tune in to MoS radio, or really engage with the Ministry brand outside of those shows.
Strangely though, the shows were axed without prior warning as part of a major reorganisation of Ministry’s radio offering. In lieu of any official statement from Ministry themselves, which is surprising to say the least, one can only conclude at this point that drum and bass wasn’t making them any money, so it had to go.
I think this points more towards Ministry’s incompetence than anything. Drum and bass has a loyal following, new nights are popping up everywhere. Mainstream D&B-infused songs make their way into the top 10, and hit number 1 spots in the charts. The scene is very much alive, but they failed to capitalise on that.
It’s worrying that these two events have happened, but when you look at the bigger picture and the statistics, it doesn’t undermine the music.
As times change, perhaps drum and bass is moving out of a sweet spot, where it has mainstream coverage and the privilege of having some serious (yet modest) airtime on well-known stations and into a period where things are a bit more decentralised. I don’t think this is a bad thing because nothing lasts forever, and we can see smaller stations pick up the slack and diversify.
The argument that mainstream songs at 170+ BPM require representation in big broadcasting doesn’t really float given that you don’t hear those songs mixed in the long tail of drum and bass nights that aren’t run by Hospital or RAM. It doesn’t take away from the irony.
So no, this isn’t a symptom of drum and bass dying. It just means the true heads will need to dig a bit deeper - you never know, you might like what you find.
The last few years of locking in have done big things for my music library, and my taste in music. Bootlegs have introduced me to some great non D&B artists, and exposure to the labels on rotation broadened my horizons. For a little while until it all comes back, that’s what I’m going to miss the most.
Anyone wants recipes or something? I have 50 ish recipes (mostly vegetarian and pastry) if anyone wants. I like cooking. Let’s cook something.