How Relevant Is bFM In 2011?

How relevant is bFM? That’s what we’re being asked in the latest issue of Metro which I picked up yesterday. It takes a look at the criticism bFM’s received, and what that essentially means for its credibility. Based around the quick departure of two of their biggest presenters (Matt Heath and Mikey Havoc) and the appointment of two new young breakfast hosts (Connor Nestor and Vince Wynn) last year, the article also brings up an interesting allegation about the radio station.

That claim is from former bFM staffer, Adele Hunter-Higgins, who recalls several moments of inappropriateness: “There are a number of middle-aged men in leading positions, and there are a lot of young women, often volunteers, who seem to be put in positions where they’re at best being objectified, at worst it’s borderline sexual harassment…These guys would sit uncomfortably close to them, and make very charged comments. And these would be very young people, 18, 19, and the guys would be in their 40s”, she says. There are more examples too – one from a former receptionist and another from a former female staff member who believes that bFM is an old boys club, despite the fact that many of the past station managers have been women.

Author, Duncan Greive, is the former editor of Real Groove magazine, and now a freelance writer for Metro and Sunday. He says that, “Chris Hocquard, the music industry lawyer who chairs the bFM board, told Metro he was “not aware” of any issue relating to sexual harassment at bFM. “It’s never been brought to board level.””

But perhaps interestingly of all, Greive examines where the station’s credibility is at, and if the departure of Heath and Havoc will have a lasting effect on how people perceive it. bFM is essentially starting over — Connor Nestor and Vince Wynn are lesser established voices that have been appointed into positions occupied by bFM staff that had stuck around a long time. As Greive points out, this could go either way; it pleases those who sneered because the station had been keeping the older staff around for so long, but it could also prove risky if some of their audience moves away from the station now that Heath and Havoc are gone.

There are assertions that the recent changes, as well as an emphasis to tone down the antics of the past, have made the station even more formal. That too, brings up more questions: Is the station playing it too safe? And if so, how does that sit with its audience? As station manager, Manu Taylor (former programme director of Mai FM) says in the piece: “We are here to develop young creative talent”. And with Nestor and Wynn at the helm of Breakfast and a bunch of others on bFM’s weekday Drive shows, they’re definitely headed in a new direction.

So what do you think? Do these new hosts have what it takes to keep you listening? Do you even listen to the station at all anymore? Leave your comments below.

109 Comments

  1. Birdshit Man says:

    No one’s fucking listening

    • Devast8or's Publicist says:

      I think Birdshit Man sums up the whole argument remarkably well, for someone stained with bourbon and literally encased in bird shit.

  2. Dave Sitek says:

    Doubt I will be the only person to comment on here and say that Connor Nestor is a chumpy, social climbing, fake ass, wannabe tool. He is giving BFM about as much credibility as a club night photographer has. Also, not suprised about the allegations. And sure they might not have been bought to a board level, but those situations are always tough – especially at a place like bfm, where probably nothing is “blantantly over the line” but more “everyday uncomfortableness” bought on by cool-dad dudes in power. Good on Adele for speaking up. Bfm could and should be a lot better than it is, even with its rumoured impending bancruptcy.

  3. Mark E. Smith says:

    Bfm was a toxic environment for most of the three years I was there, particularly when the boys club took the reins. Hocquard can claim he doesn’t know about any official complaints, of course, he is a very shrewd operator (just look at the ways he gets around employment law when it doesn’t suit him) but you’d have to be pretty naive to think he wasn’t party to the environment of mistrust and manipulation.

    Why did I stick around three years? The same reason everyone does, because it means you can play music you really love, and for that opportunity you’re willing to usually put up with a lot.

  4. I don’t know why I’d ever listen to bFM when I have Radio NZ National.

  5. alt bro made good says:

    Connor has been repping indie rock since 2010, so maybe this will make bFM more relevant and meaningful to bros who <3 indie club nites + being in party pics. bFM <3 the maltstream, major label indie electro songstresses @ #1 etc

    • …says Connor’s mum.

    • Adrian Greaves says:

      What is interesting, is how someone who pays to have his product advertised on a radio station, ends up co-hosting that stations’ most important show.

      One could almost be forgiven for assuming that he (in some way) bought that opportunity (with the intial outlay being undoubtedly levied by his parents). Cool. Street!

      • Matthew Crawley says:

        Or, you could look it like this: here’s a young guy who’s actually involved in the creative industry at lots of different levels. He puts on clubnights, he has a radio show, he DJs out, he bothers to bring bands and DJs over to NZ that other people might not.

        Try buying your way into a radio show and see what happens…

      • Sarin says:

        As Matthew said… that’s not really how it works. If anything, it goes the other way: Connor has been able to leverage the experience and contacts he’s gained at bFM (since he walked through the door in 2008) to make his clubnights work, and work well enough to be able to consistently advertise with bFM.

      • Adrian, I love the way you’ve just plucked a theory out of thin air (he bought that opportunity), then elaborated on it (undoubtedly levied by his parents), then commented ironically (Cool. Street!) on something you seem outraged by but YOU MADE UP!

      • Connor volunteered for ages before he got the breakfast host job. He turned up every morning at 5:45 for free, worked his butt off and never complained. Good on him for having a lot going on. I say best of luck to him.

      • Dan Taipua says:

        I think (think) Adrian’s just upset at a perceived culture of nepotistic ego-propping up at b.

        e.g.

        AD: Come to the super swell scoopneck gala this Saturday! Presented by 95bFM
        STING: And now, here’s our super swell Breakfast host: brought to you by the scoopneck gala.
        AD-LIB: “Just to let you know, this week I’m putting on the biggest gala in scoopneck history – which should be super swell”
        PLAYLIST: [song by headline act at said gala]

        This is just me interpreting Adrian’s short post.

    • incredulous says:

      Please, Please say your being ironic. Otherwise I might kill myself.

  6. If bFM is starting over, it would be best if ppl like Hocquard and co all went and had a good hard, long look at the company directives framed on the wall up in their waiting area.

    They haven’t honored those for years and they might find some success if they returned to core values instead of the absolute lost trail they are following at the moment. It’s just turned into a sad joke.

    The only thing they have honored is their old boys club, a bunch of indie rock crap and a use and abuse mentality that the station is bigger and better than the sum total of their djs. Which they are finding out the hard way, is totally wrong. The djs are the heart and soul of any station. bFM is small fry now, when they should be leading the charge with their golden years as something to aspire to – when the station was interesting, pro active in a spectrum of scenes and incredibly varied in their play list.

  7. HaRrUmPh! says:

    Good on Adele for speaking up, I heard much the same from young and old Bfm volunteers.

    To get anywhere, it takes being young, beautiful and a whole lot of sucking up to the powers that b.

    I left because of I was afraid to go there. On a number of occasions I’ve felt humiliated in front of others by Manu Tayler. Certain people will be favourites, the others will get snarky remarks at best – no thank yous, no christmas parties, no nothing.

    It’s a poisonous place to be and it’s heartbreaking to see people, who put in a lot of time, for the love of it, never even receive as much as a thank you.

    I admire anyone who manages to stay there for longer than a few months. There are people who have been volunteering there for years, like James, Hamish, Silka, Will – you are my heros! How the shit do you do it?!

    H.

  8. HaRrUmPh! says:

    PS: To go from experienced, funny, genuinely good guy and WELL EDUCATED man like Havoc to some pretty faced party boy tool like Connor who knows fuck all…

    • M'Hoonlight says:

      To be fair, when Mikey was 19 it would have been hard to describe him as you just did. Give it time.

      • hArRuMpH! says:

        It’s a drag now, though. Vince all the way. He is intelligent and funny. We love Vince.

  9. Not Henry Kisenger says:

    I think that bfm is still relevant, it is currently in a cocoon like state but I think that if we sort out the problems with songs being played so much they become repetitive or selling a small sliver of its soul for advertising money (which funds the station)it will come through this hard time and once again be the reigning king of cool whihc it has been since the 80s. And for the Metro article, the guy who wrote seems to have a lot of resentment towards b as if he wasn’t given a show when he was at uni and is now reping vengence through the nations most wanky magazine pages, no offence ment, just feels that way you know.

    • Mark E. Smith says:

      “the guy who wrote seems to have a lot of resentment towards b as if he wasn’t given a show when he was at uni and is now reping vengence through the nations most wanky magazine pages”

      Haha, it’s funny cos you have NO idea what you’re talking about (you might want to find out who the author is and his involvement with music/the station).

  10. catch my show every Saturday night 9-11pm on bFM, playing the best in electronic beats,

    bFM is still relevant

  11. A former staffer says:

    I thought Duncan was very measured in his piece.
    The part of the article I found irriatating was bFM fobbing off negative comments on the way that the station is being run as “sour grapes”, and playing the vicitim of a “witch hunt”. That is part of the mechanism that keeps sexual harrassment in the workplace under-reported. Especially in a situation where most of the young people have no real power and are at the mercy and favour of older men.

    Adele is a remarkable person, who I have always found to be honest, fair, and reasonable – there is no way she (and the other former staffers who spoke up) would drag the station through the mud to prove a point. It was done to shine light onto a situation that is not being addressed by the powers that be at b. Surely admitting that there may be issues within the station that they could work on, or at least pretend to look at would be a better response that throwing Adele under a bus.

    People who work and volunteer at bFM don’t do it for the big bucks, it is because they love what the station stands for, and being involved in it. People are the station’s most important comodity – they need to do something to explain why people are feeling so uncomfortable that they are talking to the media to seek change. Rather than shooting down any negative feedback Manu and Troy should take a long hard look in the mirror.

  12. Dan Taipua says:

    Can we please not cheapen debates with ad hominem attacks against the breakfast host?

    It’s not like he has any power over or input into the organisation as a whole, unlike Taylor or Hocquard.

    People need to realize (like Duncan does) that the issues presented in the article stretch deep into the structure of the station, and they’re affected by the direction the board has chosen to take over the past decade.

    Instead of keyboard-yelling “repeats of crossover indie suck”, take some time to consider why the station adopted a more traditional/commercial playlist format. What were the motivating factors? Have the outcomes met their internal objectives, despite what your own reaction might be?

    All this being said, I’ll post my personal view of their problems later this evening.

  13. Sorry dudes, had to remove the link to the PDF of the story at Metro’s request.

  14. Metro takes aim at bFM and most of you suckers are on Metro’s side? For fuck’s sake, this is a mag that never reviews hip hop and thinks the local scene begins and ends with the Naked and Famous! I’d rather listen to b than read Metro, any day.

    • Mark E. Smith says:

      Hi X-Large,
      so the quality of someone’s message always comes down to their taste in culture?

      Also, I don’t think it’s between you “listening” to Bfm and its djs (which you can do, through your radio device) and listening to their corporate management.

  15. Im a Wellingtonian who has also lived in Chch and Dunedin before moving to Auckland. Bfm is inferior when compared to all the other main centres Bnet stations. Total let down.

    • Dan Taipua says:

      Hi Simon,

      If you had to make a short list of reasons why bFM suffers in comparison to other bnets, what would that list include? (just 3 or 4 points)

  16. MsBananaPeel says:

    I think the innappropriateness from older men is a music industry-wide issue, not just radio and not just bFM. As a music reporter I was often talked to in a way that made me uncomfortable when I was in my early 20s. For example, I’d turn up to interview an artist and their manager said, “I had no idea you’d be so hot!” How anyone can think that’s appropriate in any professional context is beyond me.
    As soon as I went into business reporting (identical job, different industry) I never had the slightest moment of weirdness from older men. Go figure.

  17. I have a lot of respect for Duncan, but I found the story a bit disappointing. A little less on booze-‘n’-drugs and the good old days might have left some room for more interesting questions: like how and why bFM formally parted company with the rest of the bNet.

    It also misses the (pre-Manu) change that has had a considerable impact on the number of new voices on air: the blocking out of much of the schedule with daily shows by name presenters. It’s made for some good radio — most notably Charlotte’s show — but when virtually the only route to air was midnight-to-dawn shows, it threatened to choke off the supply of new talent that makes the station what it is. I’m among those pleased that there are a bunch of new kids on air, even if they aren’t perfect.

    A brief look at the governance structure — actually a little more complicated than simply a board — would have been useful. There was a point (again, pre-Manu) when it seemed possible to really extend the bFM brand and reach a bigger audience, but perhaps that was never going to happen.

    Chris Hocquard’s refusal to be interviewed was silly. The board is supposed to provide a continuity, and it would have been sensible and appropriate to have had something to say about that. I was a bit surprised no one from the sole shareholder, AUSA, was consulted. What exactly are the shareholder’s expectations of its asset? How has shaped strategy?

    Also: whither editorial? It seems worth noting that for the last few years, the Wire presenters have been bright and able — and even at its least impressive, editorial is streets ahead of what it used to be. It’s these people who get hired for grown-up media jobs too.

    I’m not inclined to dismiss the allegations about elements of an undesirable male culture, on the basis that the people saying so aren’t fools.

    But the thing is, bFM has been deemed to be in mortal peril repeatedly over the years. There have been cliques, rioting DJs, financial calamities and fights before. It generally passes. Nothing ultimately endures. Except possibly Troy.

  18. The week I decided to leave my 2.5 year stint at the B was the 5th week I had to sit next to Troy, Manu and Alice bitching about 3 of the best DJs on the station, between bouts of talking about bestiality and masturbating over their own voices.

    Still miss that place, but I don’t miss swimming in media jizz at 10am. Bfm will always be relevant, but to a decreasing audience as long as it keeps its current management.

    On a sideish note, was in Palmy listening to Radio Control and that beats the shit out of Bfm at the moment without having established voices. It’s not just about having celebs head up a breakfast show, it’s probably more about having people who are actually good.

    • Curious says:

      I know Troy and Manu, but who is Alice?

    • Alice Murray says:

      Hey Lbd.

      I’d just like to clarify that you’re not talking about me – Alice Murray (at bFM 2001-2007).

      I’ve not worked alongside Manu (having moved to Melbourne in 2007), and the prospect of talking about beastiality with anyone, let alone a work mate is frankly unappealing.

      I can only assume you’re talking about the new Alice, who I’ve not met, but have heard on bFM a couple of times since I left, and quite liked.

  19. Mediaworks (or TRN for that matter) can’t start another station even if they wanted to because all the frequencies are chocka.

    Also, ZM & The Edge seem to sponge up whatever sounds mainstream enough from Bfm (MGMT, Temper Trap, TNAF etc). Even their advertising style is being mirrored, which they’re making a right abortion of.

    Is there a possibility that even the B itself could be bought out by Mediaworks ala George?

    • George Bartlett says:

      bFM*

    • Bill Kerton says:

      They can’t buy it because it’s a Government frequency. Look none of you know what you’re talking about, especially whoever it was who told Duncan that BFM got this amazing 6% result in the early 2000’s. Six per cent of what, the 10+ audience or a demo? The pie or a slice of the pie? Goths? Giraffes with blue hair? Come on man, where’s your research, ring RI. There’s a difference; six per cent of the 10+ would have made the front page, 6% of a demo is balls compared with what we did in 1996 or even now. For the last time kiddies, putting Havo on breakfast, Bob & Scott doing ads, BDO & the whole shebang, all our great DJs meant we doubled the ratings in six months to more than Hauraki rates now. Like way more, and that’s why less than 2 years later Channel Z, 96.1, The Rock, The Edge etc all came to town because the major network bosses saw the numbers and thought Yessss. The good news is two of them tried and failed even with TRN and MW behind them, so continue to rock the party BFM, it would be rude not to.
      Anyway regarding the article’s angle of is BFM relevant / Mikey / Matt, when a small station like BFM gets into buying the survey the danger is you can end up over thinking it and doing what the numbers tell you to do instead of going by instinct; next thing it’s overseas consultants & focus groups. Can’t blame the board ‘n’ that for being competitive, it’s their job. We didn’t need the official survey to tell us what to tell the advertisers in the mid nineties because they were coming to us and we were all quite aware the station was hot shit, any fool could tell that. BFM will be fine so long as it’s mad bad and dangerous to know, but for god’s sake stop cursing and play some hits
      Love from
      Bill Kerton Programme Director 1995 – 1999 (& they got me back in 2004 but it was too hard and I’m too old and I had to do neighbours at war)
      PS one time at boarding school I stencilled DEVO on my white number one shirt so I could take my jacket off at the bus stop and show off to this girl from Paeroa. And I was the first person in the Waikato to play G’n’R on FM radio so suck on that Simon Laan
      PPS good photo of the studio door by the way

  20. Chur Patrol says:

    To be fair, bFM is by far the best wide band station on air, its the only one playing good music with ads that aren’t hideously annoying. However the station is beginning to suck in some ways, the music rotation is lacking and often the same songs are overplayed to buggery, some not so cool advertisers are starting to slip in (like the warehouse) and i have to agree with Dave Sitek about Connor Nestor being a tool (much love for Vince though).

    I think its only a matter of time before mediaworks starts a station that will compete with bfm, there is a huge audience for crossover indie hits which will take a huge chunk out of b’s audience.

    I think bFM is still very much relevant but there needs to be quite a shakeup in management if it wants to survive, but we should cut them some slack while they get their financial situation in order.

  21. Is there a possibility that even the B itself could be bought out by Mediaworks ala George?

    That would have been a relevant question, given what’s happened to other bNet stations. I think it’s unlikely for various reasons, though.

    • Aaron Hawkins says:

      “Given what’s happened to other bNet stations”?

      Which bNet stations are part of the duopoly of NZ commercial radio? Or are you suggesting that being a part of that system is the only liferaft available to them?

  22. A listener & contributor to the b since 1980’s…

    A few thoughts:

    – The ads are generally great but unbearable repitition. Some have been on for years and I instantly switch stations.

    – Too much talking. Not a new thing, but generally dj’s like the sound of their own voices too much. Mikey was great apart from this, & esp bad when interviewing someone. Shut the fuck up all of you! Don’t try to sound like mainstream dj’s. We’re not interested in 2 (or more!) of you having a chat in the studio & thinking you’re witty.

    – Playlists suck. If you get lots of good feedback on something, sure. Selling well on indie charts, ok. Programme Dir issues playlist: flush it. Dj’s should be able to play more of their own discoveries. And if they’re not bringing mew material, boot them.

    – The Wire shoud not be broadcast in Shadows. You can’t properly hear what’s said and 99% of people are in there to talk to their mates anyway. Annoying and distracting. Music pls.

    – Morning Glory, Drive etc: Just some cool sounds instead would be great. Same for Breakfast. We don’t need talkback/magazine radio.

    – Many specialist shows were great however; low-key knowledgeable ppl e.g. BPM Simon Grigg, Automatic’s Sun arvo dub/funk/reggae; the Sun morn comedy show was good (Henry H’worth?). Jazz show. Troy’s RnR Wire. The guy annoys me but I like the show when I catch it.

    – Djs of note who don’t blab incessantly : Renee Sat arvo’s, Phil A, Penny etc.

    – BFM was a Uni station and is still based on Akl Uni campus. Should be a requirement to have 50% (or more) at any given moment of bfm staff being currently enrolled students.

    Apart from the experience they’d get, they’re probably closest to students’ tastes and this is still a student-supported station, broadcasting to students in the Quad and Shadows whether they like it or not.

    Good examples? KCR at SDSU; WFMU – NYC.

    End rant. Perhaps more later.

  23. Amen to the djs talking too much thing. It seems I can’t turn on b these days without having to endure that Tony guy smugly cracking himself up. Spare us the Smashey ‘n’ Nicey, bro! Play some songs! I get that quality control is always going to be an issue with student radio, but still. Definitely time for new voices.

    • DF, thanks for the critique. I don’t intend on leaving my show, as I really enjoy it, but I will endeavor to cut down on the chuckling.

      • Nice one, Tony. I’ve got no doubt you enjoy doing your show, but as a b listener I enjoy your banal altbro madhouse shtik a lot less. The music is fine.

        Those one-note ads are kind of a shitter too though.

        Fuck it, you know what?! It’s your voice. Somehow just a perfect distillation of entitled, chin-stroking, a-little-too-pleased-with-yourself indie guy smugness. Which is never in short supply at the b, but still.

        By all means please continue to do your show, but I humbly submit that you desist from making insipid jock banter on my beloved b through the medium of your smug fucking voice. Tweet that shit if you must.

        Also, purge the party photographer d-bags.

        Thanks.

      • Thanks again DF. Unfortunately I don’t tweet.

        Good on you for making the most of your platform here though!

      • Thanks man. And you yours.

        We cool?

      • Yeah man! Always a pleasure to interact with a fan.

    • I enjoy Tony’s show. I think he is informed, witty and plays great music.

      • Tim Ellis says:

        I have to agree, Tonys show and the saturday drive are the best shows on the station.

      • Totally agree with Matt and Tim,

      • Victoria says:

        Carnivale in Rio hands down the best show.Tony rules.Hilarity on repeat.Close second Psychic Glands.Cannot stand the like of Charlotte Red/Juliet Carpenter et al.Dreadful radio.

  24. I grew up with bFM and am now heavily involved in radio at various levels, but now find it very hard to listen to bFM. I personally struggle with Taylor’s quoted assertion that the aim of bFM is to develop young talent – there is a difference between developing talent and simply providing a microphone and a transmitter for young voices.

  25. the internet says:

    bFM should be dangerous.

  26. Steve says:

    In my opinion, Vince provided the only real laugh-out-loud moments on Havoc’s breakfast anyway. Glad to see him upgraded. I do miss the maniacal screaming (Havoc) from time to time though. Pity the story had to be taken down. Now i’ll have to wait til the local caffeine merchant gets a second hand copy before I can read it. Stand by for comments in 8 weeks time.

  27. washed out says:

    man b jumped the shark years ago

  28. Matthew Crawley says:

    I feel I should say something here, as someone who’s still with the station after first volunteering in 1996.

    I’m not going to get into the politics of it all here, though I’ll be the first to admit the history of bFM as I’ve seen it is far from perfect. It will never be perfect. But in terms of relevance – well, yes – it’s still very relevant.

    bFM has outlived the storm that came with the whole cult of ownership – owning your own music on cd rather than just giving the radio your love – and now it’s facing its hardest hour I reckon – as is radio in general. iPods and laptops have pretty much written off the need for cds (thankfully vinyl still clings on like a stubborn uncle) as we all know, and blogs / twitter / Facebook all share information faster than even radio often can.

    But radio is set to random play, and it’s got a personality, and it’s got a history, and it cares about your city, and cares about music. And (RIP Fleet FM), bFM is still more or less the good that spites a bad bunch. With the glaring exception of Radio NZ National – a station whose ties to bFM are many, and nurtured.

    At its best bFM is still hilarious and brilliant. At its worst, it’s self indulgent and immature, but so it always has been. The young ones coming through should – we all know – have been coming through long ago, but at least it’s happening now. There are some really, really good ones in there too. And the good thing is they’re not cynical, jaded, or smug. That’s pretty nice. We can forgive them the occasional slip on the rope-swing.

    Not everyone agrees with the placements, but not everyone will agree on anything, ever. I’m pretty sure that if bFM did ever disappear off the airwaves (and with some awful losses in our Actually-Good-Media this past year, you just never know) – we’d all wind up standing around feeling shitty, remembering the good things and not bitching about the little things. I’m attempting a funereal analogy here, but it’s not happening how I wanted it to.

    The point is, you’d miss it. You might miss what it used to be, you might miss what it is now, you might even get all Inception and miss what it COULD have been. But you’d miss it.

    • Matthew Crawley says:

      p.s. In saying the new hosts aren’t smug, I don’t mean to back up the comment about my chum Tony – who is himself, one of the best things about this station, in my humblez.

    • Everybody (Still) Needs a Bossom says:

      Most accurate and sensible summary. Ever.

  29. George Bartlett says:

    I’m sorry,but I’m afraid I’m going have to ask you all to leave.

  30. George Bartlett says:

    *bFM

  31. Mr. Grogan says:

    Now let’s all have a long hug and forget this ever happened.

  32. matthew says:

    synopsis:
    everyone thinks bfm is bad, except bfm hosts and staff, who not only think the station is great, they also quite admire each other.
    subjectivity is a wonderful thing.

  33. Michael McClelland says:

    There’s an overbearing sense of loyalty to bFM from all sides, whether it’s from the defenders or its critics. While some are tearing bFM down for its ‘newest’ faults, others are standing their ground strong (and maybe stubborn) as ever. In both instances, though, these people are doing it in the name of ‘what’s best for bFM’.

    It’s interesting how we get so charged up over preserving something which really is nothing more than a name. You can’t assure the same level of quality over a 40-year period – it’s just too unlikely that things won’t falter in some way. But like any sentimental attachment, like an old clubhouse or birthplace, its nostalgic value outweighs itself. It’s obvious that our communal spirit was spawned by a love for the no-bullshit legacy of bFM – something which may in fact be the rosey-eyed extension of a few redeeming features from its former days. Or, as Greive challenges in the article, a propaganda campaign.

    But whether or not bFM’s legacy is as deserved as the older generation suggest, its invisible reach is such a strong thing. In a way, it’s like The Force – the tying bond that brings all elements of the universe together as One, or some shit. People speak of bFM like this with such awe and respect for what really narrows down to a bunch of amateurs with microphones. Of course, that’s what makes it so interesting – and this is why true-believers have a near-religious (sometimes cultish) loyalty to what’s little more than a fading memory of good times.

    That’s all we need to build up the image of bFM in our heads. That’s how it works, with nostalgia: a few fun memories that outshine the sinister, and bam – you have a personality cult for a thing that doesn’t even have a face. And when we do dig deeper, we’re disappointed to find the darker sides of our cherished memories. This applies to bFM as much as anything – when something stains our impression of bFM, it’s not about the station itself… it’s instead tainting our idea of what bFM stands for and what bFM should be. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for the station to meet these requirements.

    So while it does sound like I’m being as overzealous as anyone, I feel that zeal is an unavoidable part of bFM’s audience. On a sociological level, bFM is inherently one of the only tying factors between a community of very divided, isolated citizens. It’s obvious from looking at the Auckland music scene, where indifference breaks the enthusiasm that prevails in other cities. The exception applies in the case of bFM, where people rally together stronger than ever with a 40-year history to back the cause. No other alternative culture, as far as I can think, has thrived so consistently in this city. bFM is there to represent the part of Aucklanders that can still band together and connect over a common interest.

    But it’s also the reason people get constantly upset about bFM. With such a positive social rallying cry, there’s an expectation of perfection where the requirements of followers (from the loyal to the casual) must always be met.

    But of course, “nothing is perfect” (source: cliched phrases) and it’s very fucking hard to meet an expectation of perfection when this rule applies. As well as that, different people have different perceptions of the word ‘perfect’, let alone the word ‘good’ – so when things don’t even uniformly add up to THIS, we get the idea that things are universally fucked up. Again, like Star Wars or some shit.

    But in a weird almost-backwards kind of way, this is what redeems bFM. Controversy has been a vital component of the station since the early days, if the rose-tinted glasses have even a shred of credibility to their claims. It means that people are willing to get worked up over the quality of their radio station instead of simply switching off. So basically, as long as people are fuming over bFM’s ‘fall from grace’ (depending on what your definition is of ‘fall’ and ‘grace’), they’ll still pay attention to the station. And that’s why bFM is still relevant. Because it sucks, and it rules.

    The only thing more stubborn than bFM is its listeners. They would rather swear at their radio than drool to 30 minutes of ads on their way home. Instead of accepting the information thrust at them, they’re challenging it. And isn’t that the whole point of alternative radio?

  34. Marty Jones says:

    bFM is becoming increasingly irrelevant, not because of it’s choice in DJs, but because of it’s constantly terrible management decisions. The problem comes from the result of people who have been in positions of power for too long, they lack any sort of perspective on what is going on in the world around them and as a result make aweful decisions that are ruining alternative radio in New Zealand.

    It’s sad that the bNets as a group of united stations has fallen by the wayside because certain people can’t get along, it’s sad that the bNet awards vanished without a trace, probably due to similar disagreements. It’s embarassing that alternative radio in New Zealand is losing relevancy because of some extremely closeminded individuals whose opinions, decisions and tastes in music are far too narrow and dated for the current state of radio.

  35. Charles says:

    What other non-genre-specific station are you going to listen to in Auckland? You’re going to say National. But really? Surely not ALL the time. Sure there are some annoying bits on b, but you don’t have to listen all day every day.

    I don’t know anything about sleazy old dudes getting fresh with young interns, but I know that if b wasn’t around I’d listen to the radio a whole lot less.

  36. Parisa says:

    B FM is totally relevant to who chooses to listen- that sounds stupid, but in a city where there are so many radio stations and such vast types of people, it will always be relevant. To put it simply…

    ZM- designed for mainstream teenagers
    The Rock- Older market who love Rock
    Base Fm- people who like hip hop and reggae
    Bfm- people who like alternative music
    Mai fm- People who want to listen to main stream (shit) hip hop
    And so on… What other radio stations play the type of music BFm does?? I cant think of one!! Auckland needs this diversity.

    So yes B fm is totally relevant, just as relevant as all the other stations are to there listeners… And as for Connor and Vince, there sweet as and totally deserve the role.

  37. kieran and jesse make me want to choke myself everytime I happen upon their sniveling pre-pube voices.

    troy, the morning glory chick, sat drive and the sunday jazz and funk shows make the b worthwhile.

    • The Lamp says:

      Hey “Derp” I’m a little late to this, but I think I should reply to your empty criticism.

      This is the exact reaction we want to get out of people like you, so as me and jesse make fun of you for the next 5 weeks on our show I say, thank you

      – Love Kieran & Jesse from the top 10

    • Jesse says:

      Get fucked,

      Jesse.

  38. Elvis Hitler says:

    perhaps bFM should employ the services of SHP.. SHP? see link.. this will sort it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPmbL5G8rJY

  39. Jaded McCynic says:

    Bring back Wallace!

  40. As an exbfmer (1988-204) that hasn’t read the article, and just moved back to AK from Wellington after 4 years.

    My impression of bfm is that a lot of the same mistakes that me and my friends made on air are beinging repeated by the influx of new people.

    I do think the ‘shake-up’ was well, well, well, well over due (delayed, possibly until too late, by inept boardroom management living in ivory towers created by their own self importance).

    But I cringe as Breakfast and Drive host talk after each song, publicise all the adulations they are recieving via txts and emails, spout incredulous opinions of bands, shout out to their friends, partners, flatmates, drug-buddies, parole officers and all insundry.

    And do pox ridden interviews with bands/people without having a friggin’ clue “I heard one fool ask the Melvins if this was their first visit (2011) and was it because they lived so far away (They played in NZ 3xtimes prevviously)”

    I have bFM and Nat Rad tuned into my car radio, when one gets annoying I change channels… running about par at the moment.

  41. Nick D Angelo says:

    I think what we’re all agreed on, if I’m reading these comments correctly, is that the station was never as good as that time we first fell in love with it. Stop chasing that original high. You’ll never find it.
    I was involved with B on and off between 1983-1998. People come and go, but the station continues.
    That said, I think we can also all agree that I ran it best.

  42. is it true troy has left the building…?

  43. I thought Duncan’s piece was really well written and entertaining.
    What it didn’t discuss (and what few of these forum posts mention) are the music specialists that form the very lifeblood of bFM, and always have done. It’s the people who really know their stuff, who run theme or genre-dedicated shows at night, that have always attracted me to the station, because I can learn something. Day-time bFM has become increasingly format-driven, repetitive, and its staff often display a woeful lack of knowledge about music.
    The piece ignored the “oldies” who are still involved in the station, and that’s a pity, because the issue is pertinent. The 30-to-50-somethings who still linger at bFM represent possibly the first generation of music listeners who haven’t gone off to nostalgia-land; for whom music is a great, ongoing adventure, and for whom the accumulation of knowledge keeps you interested. It’s the dynamic between those old farts and the young pups that keeps the station relevant.
    bFM may, as Matthew says, be “facing its hardest hour”, for all the reasons spelt out by various observers. Things continue to grow and evolve, or they perish on the vine.
    I would hate bFM to become an audio Jackass. Music is the best, and bFM should inherently be about expanding people’s heads by exploring all the stuff that other stations don’t (and won’t) play.
    [Note: I write regularly for Metro, so am not impartial, but the magazine has never been more sharp and relevant than it is right now under the steerage of Simon Wilson. bFM could take some cues from Metro’s rapid evolution].

  44. 53rd & 3rd says:

    Been listening over last 20 years and what is apparent is how awfully commercial & mainstream it is now (to be fair the music can still be fantastic).

    High levels of intrusive advertising
    High rotate playlists
    Product endorsement with competitions
    Moronic DJ banter
    Sponsorships with big corporates

    Compared to other uni stations b is a sellout. I assume the board
    have set commercial objectives and management are charged with
    implementing a strategy to meet them. That’s fine, but there is
    nothing alternative or innovative in all that, and it rings hollow if you try to position yourself as alternative. Changing board and
    management would bring the station closer to other Uni stations and differentiate b from other Auckland stations. Until then is the b a commercial station trying to be an alternative uni station or an alternative uni station trying to be a commercial station?

    • The Monopoly Guy says:

      Since AUSA gets fuck all money from the students (who all refuse to join the association now that it’s voluntary and they have better things to do like work so they can afford to buy curries and pay rent), how else do you expect bFM to pay the bills?

  45. Bob Dole says:

    Bring back Friday Night Alan!

  46. Tuffie says:

    My involvement with the b was a few years in the late 80’s early 90’s. During my time there I turned 30 and I was one of the oldest people around at that time….I don’t listen to b much these days but then I’m not the target demographic any more. I do think it’s interesting that a significant number of the current older b crowd were around back in my day and they don’t seem to have changed much. Perhaps their idealism has shifted into something more like insecure egotism; always a danger with older people in what is essentially a youngsters’ gig.
    While I agree that the “dynamic between those old farts and the young pups” could keep the station relevant, it doesn’t seem to have. Where is our John Peel? If any station should have an older, knowledgeable DJ, passionate about new music and bringing it to the attention of the listeners and looked up to by the younger DJ’s it should be bfm. But it doesn’t.
    As for the boys club stuff, it’s always been a bit like that even with female managers. The power imbalance is greater when the men are older but it’s a reflection of the world and will only change as the wider culture does.
    I’m sure that bfm will survive but as what remains to be seen….

    • OE Dude says:

      Having been overseas for the past 2.5 years Ive been catching most of my b fix with podcasts. They are the highlight of my day sometimes. I love bfm.

  47. Charlie Gaddafi says:

    I was just listening to bFM a minute ago and had to turn it off because of the DJ banter. Who the hell wants to listen to smug, self-satisfied drivel at 11:40pm on a Sunday?

    Having said that, bFM is still more relevant than this blog, or Metro magazine. Yes it has problems, has seen some great talent move away and many of you’ve already shared your thoughts on the Breakfast show. But the Wire is still generally good and I’d rather listen to bFM news than have to put up with Thane’s inane and awful comments and editorialising during George’s news bulletins.

    bFM also fills a role some so-called “public service broadcasters” could only dream of – supplying niche audiences and otherwise-ignored genres with music the commercial whoremonger radio stations are shit-scared of.

    While comparisons with other bnet stations are interesting, such comparisons are somewhat irrelevant for those of us who live in Auckland. Given a choice between the Auckland commercial stations and 95bfm, I’d choose B almost every time.

    bfm also continues doing good work promoting a number of events and nurturing or publicising emerging bands. I’ve lost count of the number of events b have supported this year already.

    One strange thing about b is that you have an ironic combination of irreverence and pomposity – some people there have become so self-conscious of bfm’s uniqueness, They seem to take themselves very seriously. It’s hard to be edgy and genuinely subversive or irreverent when you’ve been doing the same thing so long or when it becomes formulaic for certain individuals.

    bfm also faces a constant challenge balancing raw, keen talent with a need for what is generally known as professionalism. Putting a functioning radio station to air, booking interviews and asking your guests smart questions requires a basic kind of competence and professionalism that sometimes seems absent from the station. The sexism and chauvinism issue sounds like an extension of a misdirected juvenile mindset, a mindset more appropriately channeled into the satirical humour bfm became famous for.

    Lbd, you’re not far off with regard to the commercial stations sponging up b’s more accessible music and imitating other aspects of its style. My general feeling at the thought of Mediaworks buying b is one of revulsion. I suspect most readers here would also be sickened by that thought.

    Thankfully the RadioWorks business model and mindset is incompatible with b’s. bfm functions in large part thanks to volunteers and a few staff who work in the background while others hog the spotlight.

    Mediaworks, like most media companies in NZ, would be happy to take on unpaid interns but I doubt any interns would put in anything like the amount of work done at b, because Mediaworks and Radio Network offer nothing to believe in – they’re businesses pure and simple, with limited cultural awareness and very little self-respect.

    And as others have pointed out, the ability at bfm to (largely) play what you like is a huge incentive for DJs, or at least the ones who spend more time playing music than they do talking.

    • Kiwi FM is largely run by vollies at the moment… MW employees, yes, but they don’t get paid for their time. Same with George.

      Just saying.

  48. Jackson (ex bFM) says:

    The good parts about bFM (for me) are/were being able to listen to people who know what they’re talking about play interesting music that doesn’t get played anywhere else.

    The bad parts have been well covered above and mainly stem from people who have no interest in/knowledge of music, but HEAPS of interest in being an ‘alt celebrity/launching my alt creative media empire’, as well as the problem of an elite panel of cooldads deciding what does and doesn’t get played.

    It’s still the only listenable music-based station in Auckland by a long margin, even though some presenters and the streams of pissweak indie disco ocasionally grate… ‘You are never going to be able to please everybody all the time’ etc. etc. – I guarantee some people were annoyed when James and I played the whole of ‘Dopesmoker’ by Sleep on our late night show, but we thought it was awesome, and it wouldn’t have happened on any other radio station.

  49. his hideous replica says:

    Can I have the last word? Just wanted to say that the day some jive arse first called it “the B” was the day the music died.

  50. hypertrophia says:

    I think it went seriously downhill since Mary-Anne Hobbs left.

  51. As an Ak born and bread musician making (non-commercial) music within different genres, the honest truth is that BFM was and remains ‘too cool for school’ in my experience.

    Most emails and phone calls went unanswered or acknowledged (not to mention the music and presskits sent in over the years).

    The irony is that the self promoted image of being all for the local underground/ non-commercial acts and all that was NOT the experience I had with Bfm. In fact, to my welcome surprise, I got way more professionalism and just basic friendliness from Riccardo Ball at The Rock FM – yeah, thats right, NZs most commercial rock station.

    Hey Im not expecting every radio programmer and DJ to love my shit, but some basic acknowledgment (even rejection email or whatever) would have given me some respect for B, wether I dug the formatting,music and DJs etc or not.

  52. Its a developing thing. BfM has the ability to change and remain relevant – perhaps a shakeup in the management is a start, but lets try not to take Metro too seriously.. its METRO right? ..the most conservative Auckland voice you can find outisde the Herald. Bfm came from literally nothing (like all the campus stations) ..and its story hasn’t finished just yet.

  53. Johnno says:

    It was so cool, but it has to evolve (no-one -not even this guy who had one hour, once, as a nipper, in the mid eighties would suggest otherwise) so it will fall in and out of favour with any discerning listener over the years because of that. However, it’s raison d’etere would have be the fact that it’s different from other stations. Meh, not that much now really other than low production values. The b I loved was not bound by current commercial zeitgeist or convention. NOW and for the last six years or so, (I’m looking at you Nick D, that’s when the rot really set in) there’s been to much hiphop culture shite – that I can hear anywhere, anywhere else, why would I tune to b? It used to be an escape from the mundane, a place to be confronted with the DIFFERENT, almost a club of… of The Thinking Music Lovers. When I can tune in for 20 minutes in the middle of the day and not tell the difference between it and Mai FM (unless I hear one of those venerable ads) and the wire is shortened to toothless soundbites -it’s just another lowest-common-denominator station. Shame on you The powers that… b, you sold the amazing group love you were given SO cheaply. Come back Mikey, there’s nothing to forgive, so much to be grateful for.

  54. Chris McPike says:

    I’m so glad this is still here. Hopefully it’ll stick around just a little bit longer so we can all have one last hoike and spit on Manu’s face. He really deserves a punch in the face for the way he treats his staff!

    The horror stories I’ve heard from the vollies, and Sarin’s fuckin voice! She must be the biggest bitch to work with. bFM was once an institution. It looks now that it still is in the incompetent hands of Manu Taylor who was apparently fired from Mai FM. No surprise there…

    Hopefully, one day there’ll be new blood to pull things straight

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