While Irish daytime radio may be a boys’ club, one station across the water has been showcasing female presenters in high profile slots. Sadly, for a while it looked like the glorious BBC 6 Music was to be closed as part of cost-cutting moves. But – hurrah! – today it was announced that the station is saved (for now, at least), and with it the job of one of the station’s brightest stars, Lauren Laverne.
I’ve been a fan of Laverne since she was in Kenickie, the indie-pop band who wrote smart, sparky songs and gave some of the most entertaining interviews around back in the mid-90s. Laverne and her fellow teen girl band-mates were hilarious, intelligent and hugely likeable, and Laverne has retained all of these qualities in her subsequent role as a TV and radio presenter. And she’s a reminder of how good it is to see – and hear - a female presenter who isn’t just the sensible sidekick or the bland dollybird. She’s a smart, genuinely funny woman who is passionate about music and books and lots of other stuff. She seems like One of Us, and that’s why so many female listeners and viewers love her so.
And she’s managed to enjoy a career in what’s still a boy’s world without having to be one-of-the-boys. Today’s quality music magazines tend to assume readers are male, but Laverne knows that women care about music too. She knows that lots of her listeners are women, and many are, like her, mothers (other stations, if their recommendations on Mother’s Day are anything to go by, seem to assume what once women have children they’re suddenly only interested in MOR and sloppy ballads). Laverne gets a lot of mails and tweets from women who are listening while on maternity leave, and sometimes encourages listeners who are at home with their kids to send in reports of how their babies are reacting to the music on the station, the results of which are usually hilarious.
And in fairness, she’s not the only 6 Music presenter to reach out to female listeners – although some of the media coverage of 6 Music implied it was indeed a station for men who read The Word Magazine, 6Music is never blokey and never assumes its audience is all men (unlike, well, The Word Magazine, which is genuinely good but which I would like a lot more if it didn’t constantly assume the reader was, basically, my dad. Who does read it, as it happens). Throughout the station both male and female presenters – and it has a lot of the latter, with the daytime schedule completely dominated by Laverne and Nemone - tend to assume that both men and women love good music. As indeed we do. In fact, for me and many other 30-somethings, 6Music has replaced the music magazines we loved in our youth as an intelligent filter of good new music. Thanks to the excellent taste of its presenters and producers, it’s a wonderful way to discover new bands. And thanks to entertaining, enthusiastic presenters like Laverne, Shaun Keaveny, Adam Buxton, Jarvis Cocker and Craig Charles, it’s always a joy to listen to.
So congratulations, Ms Laverne, and everyone at 6 Music. You deserve it.