It may have escaped your notice, but last weekend was the Glastonbury music festival. Let's be honest, it probably didn't escape your notice, especially if you happened to switch on any of the main BBC outlets on (TV or Radio, or website). It has become a Daily Mail sport to name and shame the number of BBC staff covering a big project (World Cup, Proms, Glastonbury etc), but often the coverage is excellent and probably warrants the amount of time, money and resources invested. Knocking the BBC can be too easy. And often it is unfair.
But year on year, the amount of time set aside to covering Glastonbury seems to increase. Only a skeleton staff could have been left at Radio 2's HQ. The Worthy Farm extravaganza also seemed to appear in every news bulletin. Undoubtedly it is the UK's most famous music festival, but that is all it is. A music festival. Singers performing on a stage in front of thousands of people is not a news item. Yet, even Radio 4 felt it was necessary on Saturday to mention that Florence & The Machine had performed. The golden rule of there being a hook to the story was considerably lacking.
While news bulletins (across 5 Live, Radio 2, 6 Music, R4) all felt the need to talk about Glastonbury, the programme commitment on Radio 2 was even more over the top. Chris Evans spent Friday morning doing his show - an extended version it seemed - from Somerset. We know that Evans is the man of the moment, and likes to have his fingers in whatever is the current trendy middle-class pie. So it is no surprise that he felt the need to join this bandwagon. But why is it Radio 2 donating so much time to the festival? 6 Music is surely the right BBC station for this kind of gushing muso love-in (Radio 1 is more interested in Reading-Leeds, or should be). This highlights Radio 2's problem right now. It is trying to be something for everyone. It is successful for sure, but its footprint is getting larger and larger, leading to more calls from the industry (particularly bitter commercial radio programmers) to have it privatised. While that might seem extreme, there is an argument that it should cater more clearly for a defined audience.
Glastonbury 2015 is a very different beast to when I went 20 years ago. Back then it seemed like an event for a certain type of music fan or culture lover. A little bit hippy, slightly innocent but with a magic aura. Now it is dominated by the Jack Wills-set, looking to tick off another one of their wanderlust list. The BBC has fallen into the trap of going along with this. There is often a sycophantic feel to the coverage, excluding most of the audience that doesn't have the slightest interest in it. The likes of Evans should leave it alone for the specialist music shows on Radio 2 and the output of 6 Music.
I admire so much of what the BBC does, and the coverage of events like Wimbledon (arguably another middle-class love-in, but with wider appeal). But as the corporation reaches the licence fee fork in the road in the next few years, the type of money spent covering events like Glastonbury will have to be questioned. To finish on a high (sort of), let's look forward to the excellent coverage of Wimbledon. But please let's not have too many references to SW19......okay, let's not get me started on that grumble!