When Independent local radio started in 1973 with Capital and LBC, the IBA wanted high quality broadcasting that closely reflected the local area and they put in place strict rules to ensure that each radio station appealed to as wide an audience as possible and that it included many local items.
Over the years, the rules have been relaxed, partly to ensure that profits could be made, but this has meant that quality has suffered. What we have now are bland radio stations playing safe chart hits - avoiding too much new music and completely avoiding anything that might "educate" listeners with something unusual. Would a ILR station now take a risk with someone with natural talent like Kenny Everitt?
The DJs appear to come off a production line after being trained by Smashy and Nicey - with names like Andy Roberts, Dave Stevens, Jamie Peters (you have to have a surname that is a christian name with an 's' on the end).
How many male/female combinations line up each day for a Morning Zoo or similar? Why do they think that Shalamar must be played once every hour? Don't all the jingles sound the same? Each station now seems to ignore the local area it's in, with no local news or events and as such, they are all almost identical.
There is a lack of originality in the programming and styles. When was the last time that a local independent radio station won a radio award for a documentary, comedy show, live broadcast, concert broadcast etc etc etc
Unfortunately, my hope that the quality of local radio could improve in the UK came to an end this week with the announcement that 30 local radio stations are to be re-named Heart as part of a shake-up by their owner. So almost national uniform blandness becomes official. Of course, I have the option not to listen to independent local radio and therefore I rarely do.
My hopes are therefore placed on DAB and we have some good stations available with some exciting ones to come from Channel 4 and partners. Time will tell...