Save 'On the Wire' (BBC Radio Lancashire)

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On Sunday 5th of July, the long running music programme On the Wire announced the end of its relationship with the BBC. The show has run for 36 years without a break and featured countless new and obscure artists and bands. Whilst everything has a sell-by date, there was no sense that 'On the Wire' had become stale or reached the end of the line. Far from it. The show continues to champion unlikely and exotic music from Lancashire and far beyond and represents the best in public service broadcasting, giving a platform to unusual and eclectic artists that rarely, if ever, get airplay elsewhere.

The show is anchored by the fabulous Steve Barker, an unassuming champion of new, eclectic diverse and fascinating music. To understand Steve's contribution to music that would otherwise be without a platform you really have to listen to the show. To put his knowledge and his ear for sound into words is beyond me. This profile from the Guardian is a useful primer. His dry wit and encyclopedic knowledge, his laid back style and his championing of music without recourse to hyperbole or gushing breathless sycophancy is the foundation of the programme. This is an individual who (along with the others who contribute to OTW) really should be appreciated more by the BBC. 

OTW is radio you couldn't dream up if you tried. Some fellas from Lancashire who like music, playing music they like and from time to time having a chat. It's a show built purely on passion and knowledge. On love and deep dedication to whatever voodoo makes music special. This isn't playlist radio or an algorithmic mix generated by a computer. It's the sound of people who love music, playing music made by people who love music. It's not hype or trend or fashion. 

It might not have an audience of 20 million or trend on twitter weekly but it's the kind of show we pay our license fee for. The kind of show that commercial radio just can't make because it would make no sense at all. It's precisely that lack of sense that makes it magical. It is radio in its purest form. It is without airs and graces, without ego or showmanship. Radio that simply lets you listen and nothing else. It is just 2 hours of brilliant music and it has attracted a dedicated global audience, despite never leaving the confines of local radio. 

The space it leaves will no doubt be filled by some anodyne concept of a show, something that apes commercial radio or fills a gap perceived to exist according to a focus group run by a middle management team. This is not what we pay our licence fee for. We pay it for the wonderful and strange things that happen if you just let people make programmes about things they love. If you let people just share sound and ideas on the radio. 

For 36 years, On the WIre has been the very best of Lancashire, the very best of British music culture, the very best of radio and it doesn't deserve to be shuffled aside without so much as a thank you or a consideration of its importance as a public service.  

If the BBC values music. It will find a place for it. 

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(a short extract from the official announcement... please follow this advice as well as signing!)

"If you feel moved to voice your opinion then I know the BBC is always open to feedback, best write to the station manager at BBC Radio Lancashire and copy to the Head of BBC Local Radio"