Lady Radio

What's what on the wireless. The blog accompaniment to The Lady magazine's radio column, overseen with a stern eye, a keen ear and an educated pen by Louis Barfe.

The aptly-named FUBAR Radio

Posted by Louis Barfe
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on Thursday, 09 October 2014
It's not looking too good for Fubar Radio, the online station that made a virtue of being unfettered by conventional broadcasting regulations. Live shows are being replaced increasingly with a selection of old recordings. The idea was that the station would be funded by subscriptions, but while Fubar was offering free six-month subs to all and sundry, as they have done, it was unclear why anyone would bother paying.

Now former presenter Jon Gaunt is alleging that he hasn't been paid by Fubar, and has tried to corral support from fellow Fubar presenters like comedian Ray Peacock, only to discover exactly how highly he is regarded by his ex-colleagues. Not very highly at all, as it happens.

Unregulated radio has the potential to be hugely exciting, and for a while, Fubar appeared to be fulfilling that potential, enlisting good comedians like Ray Peacock and his partner Ed Gamble, and Richard Herring, then giving them the freedom to let rip. However, the alarm bells rang in my head when Fubar recruited Justin Lee Collins, a convicted abuser of women, whose career deserves to languish for eternity. It seemed that the station was aiming to create controversy for its own sake.

This impression was underlined when tedious, boorish Jon Gaunt came on board earlier this year. Gaunt is a one-trick pony. A rabble-rouser whose self-belief outstrips his talent by some way. His sacking by TalkSPORT after he called council officials 'health Nazis' and the subsequent Ofcom ruling have rendered him to all intents and purposes unemployable in conventional regulated radio.

He spins it as censorship, but the simple fact is that a cleverer broadcaster (like, say, Gaunt's Fubar producer Nick Margerrison, for whom I have great professional respect as well as liking him personally) would have been able to make exactly the same points without getting banned from an entire medium.

Gaunt's school of talk radio is based on the principle of 'he who shouts loudest and has control of the faders has the last laugh', which is a dead end at the best of times. Meanwhile, his unique selling point on Fubar was that, being freed from the usual restrictions of impartiality, he could give extensive air time to Paul Nuttall of UKIP and ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson. Unfortunately for Gaunt and Fubar, though, nobody was buying.

There almost certainly is a future for unregulated radio in the UK, and the possibilities are limitless. This is why it's a crying shame to waste this potential by enlisting repetitive duffers like Gaunt. As a result, Fubar is now living up to its name.

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