The Null Device

Whither JJJ?

Crikey looks at the decline of "yoof" broadcaster JJJ; who seem to have all the sterility of commercial radio only without the market savvy; that and the fact that they're run by a bunch of old fogies who think they know what the kids like.
Furthermore, all during the dance music boom of the 90s, it was persistently in love with bad 3-chord 'indie' -- every two bit semi-tone flat nasally singing neo-punk thrash band from Kansas got a run (with their out of focus super-8 film clips wearing out the video machine's heads at Rage HQ) while plenty of excellent locals where overlooked because they didn't fit into the 'format'. They were just interested in the Chart Music that one might find at HMV, so while they had 'dance music' it was typically of the same type you find on other chart stations that would play that sort of thing. Finally dance music runs out of steam and JJJ decides it's time to cash in on that market -- but too late -- and still its moribund music policy changes glacially it appears.

(Ah yes; "JJJ" used to almost be a genre in the 1990s, signifying naff post-grunge yoof-rock, of the sort labels like Mushroom churned out by the bucketload. That and songs with drug references and the word "fuck" in them, because that's naughty and goes well with hormonal rebellion.)

Perhaps the best demonstration of this is a couple of years ago when new rock was at its unfortunate zenith, and JJJ responded by playing stock standard Triple M new rock, interposed with the odd wigger anthem and one particularly unfortunate track from the Bomb Funk MCs called 'Freestyler' and the occasional modern classic. The mixture was clearly calculated to offend each and every listener in some way. In some sets the mix was so inappropriate it was as if Classic FM ground to a halt half way through an opera and unleashed Eminem.

(via The Fix)

There are 10 comments on "Whither JJJ?":

Posted by: Graham Mon Apr 7 08:52:12 2003

To be fair, JJJ was quite tolerable until, say, 1998/9. The fact that Arnold Frolows still hasn't been farmed out to RN (after all, he'd get along well with the blues/folk asthetic of much of that lot) is fairly indicative of their problems. I think the moment when Helen Razer was "let go" was the final nail.

Having said all that, dumping JJJ for being irrelevant is like dumping on W for being stupid. We know, already.

Posted by: gjw Mon Apr 7 13:31:25 2003

Triple J is in a difficult position, but I think it's safe to say that the "dumbing down" that's occured in the last five years hasn't been a success. I wouldn't want JJJ to be exactly like a community station, but I think it can borrow some ideas anyway. Playing a wide range of music for a start - apparently they add eight new songs to the "playlist" every week. Why do they even _have_ a playlist? And, as the last sentance of acb's quote points out, genres are so dreadfully mixed up it's like a randomly generated radio show rather than a DJ who actually thinks about the music.

Posted by: cnwb Mon Apr 7 23:49:48 2003

Triple J and Radio National should maybe trade Arnold Frollows with Brent Clough

Posted by: gjw Tue Apr 8 03:34:06 2003

Yes, cnwb, The Night Air is brilliant - I've started listening to it religiously. I only wish Radio National would start broadcasting on FM in the cities so I could hear it in full stereo glory.

Posted by: Graham Tue Apr 8 08:49:28 2003

Heh, all the fun I've had trying to pick up the RN signal here. I'll have to get one of those Tivoli radios, I think.

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Tue Apr 8 13:44:44 2003

I stopped listening to JJJ about 4-5 years ago - Everclear killed it for me. I suppose it was to be expected, since I've been slowly drifting out of the target age group.

However, it seems a little unfair to judge a radio station solely by it's music playlist. JJJ does other things as well. And exactly what are your expectations from a public radio station, anyway? I certainly wouldn't expect my rather marginal music tastes to get air time.

Posted by: acb Tue Apr 8 14:47:15 2003

Well, for one it's their assumption that all "yoof" are superficially rebellious sensation-hungry mooks. I for one wouldn't want to listen to anything that insulted my intelligence by association.

Posted by: gjw Wed Apr 9 09:21:58 2003

Ritchie, Triple J probably can't cater to everyone's marginal musical tastes, but they could at least make an effort. The current system of (a) only adding 8 new songs to the play list each week (b) only playing songs released by major record labels (you won't even get obscure stuff played if you request it - you'll get told they don't play minor releases) and (c) blatantly thrashing to death this week's kewlest nu-genre.. Just doesn't cut it.

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Wed Apr 9 12:33:04 2003

Okay. I don't disagree with anything you're saying. But the question still stands: what is the role of a public radio station that (supposedly) focuses on youth? Is it to be defined solely by music?

I'm not stepping into the breach as JJJ's defender here, I just think it's an interesting question.

Posted by: Graham Wed Apr 9 13:35:17 2003

Well, I thought the idea behind JJJ was to act as an outlet for voicing the youth perspective in an intelligent manner, as it has done in the past, rather than just promoting shit music and doing the odd patronising awareness campaign so that it puts off everyone under 21. (The charters' supposed to go up to 34...) It used to be a good bulwark against the disenfranchisement of the "yoof", now it's just part of the problem.

Used to be that the 10-1 evening slot would be used quite well to deal with particular areas, with World and Metal specialist shows coming to mind. (Let's face it, these days JJJ's idea of Metal is as insipid as its idea of Dance)

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