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Did 6Music hijack Radio 4 last night?

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick 08:33, Friday, 19 March 2010

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BBC 6Music made an unplanned visit to the Radio 4 airwaves this evening. Just after 1900, at the end of the hourly news bulletin and just before The Archers, The Undertones were to be heard playing Wednesday Week from their 1980 album Hypnotised. It turned out that an error had been made when 6 Music's output switched from a London studio to Marc Riley's in Manchester and, for two minutes, twenty-three seconds 6Music took over Radio 4 on all frequencies.

Speculation about the cause of the incident was especially feverish on the social nets. On Twitter, miss_s_b wondered:

is it just me, or did 6music just hack radio 4? (tweet)

And tayler voiced the question on many listeners' lips:

Lots of people wondering if the strange music played on Radio 4 at 7 - interrupting the start of The Archers - was a BBC6 Music protest! (tweet)

Diana Speed, the Radio 4 announcer on duty at the time of the takeover, apologised on-air for the interruption and has passed me this official account from her log of events:

R4 Network lost for 2'23" when 6MUSIC was transmitted on our six platforms on the Network Switcher. This was due to a mistake in monitoring when the Control Room did the switch for 6MUSIC from Western House to Manchester at 1900 and instead placed 6MUSIC on our output.I was unaware of loss of network because we monitor desk output in Con and that was going out as normal. Apology was made at the end of the programme.

Listen back to this most unusual upset:

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Or download the MP3 here.

In a magnanimous follow-up, Shaun Keaveny played the rare full-length version of Arthur Wood's Barwick Green (The Archers theme) on his breakfast show this morning (followed by The Velvet Underground's Rock & Roll - this week's second-most surreal on-air collision). Listen to the clip from Shaun's show:

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Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog


  • Comment number 1.

    6Music on FM is a great idea!

  • Comment number 2.

    Why 6Music can't be put on the BBC Local Radio FM frequencies, given that the services are now speech and would be fine on AM.

  • Comment number 3.

    It was so bizarre I at first there was something wrong with my radio but then realised it was more likley a Radio 6 protest. The timing wasn't great though. On DAB it cut into the news of awards to the bomb disposal soldiers which was rather unfortunate.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's really hard this broadcasting business!

  • Comment number 5.

    Great stuff. Obviously done as part of the BBC's counter intuitive campaign to get more publicity for 6 Music before the idiots shut it down

  • Comment number 6.

    Had me rushing around between FM/DAB/LW. Radio 6 everywhere.

    I hadn't paid attention to Radio 6 before they announced its death. I am now a fan and will join any campaign to keep it alive.

    By all means shut down 1 & 2.

    We need Radio 6 in memory of John Peel.

    What is the BBC thinking?

  • Comment number 7.

    Keep 6music on FM. And don't let them close it down. It only costs 9 million a year which is a fraction of what they spend on rubbish like BBC3 (which recently showed a hard-hitting documentary by investigative reporter Danny Dyer into UFOs).

    Send an email to: srconsultation@bbc.co.uk

  • Comment number 8.

    I can only pick up R4 on long wave as I live in France and some evenings it is very difficult to get a good signal. So I was a little surprised to get music when I was listening to the News. I naturally thought it was just a glitch and no big deal as I can always listen to the Archers on iplayer or the next day. As I happened by the time I had tuned in via the TV satellite dish it was back to normal and I had only missed a little of it not enough to complain.

  • Comment number 9.

    It was a stupid-sounding error, and should have been commented upon as soon as "normal service" resumed. Indicative of the level of automation now prevalent in broadcasting; ie. it sounded like nobody was "at home".

    However, it's just lucky it happened to be 6music and not R1Extra, which sounds exactly like the many pirate stations that regularly cut into FM where I live.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think it was wonderful. The Spirit of John Peel continues. When I was part of the protest to save sea henge being moved. English heritage had all there important stuff in these porta cabins. A mouse got into the walls and started a fire. It was almost like Divine intervention. And now its happening for Radio 6. I really think Radio 6 should be left well alone. John Peel would never be pushed around. Nor is the magnificent Radio 6 and its fantastic listener.

  • Comment number 11.

    We need R5 and 6Music on FM instead of BBC Radio 1and a BBC Local Station. There is more the one BBC local station so wont be hard

  • Comment number 12.

    What a lot of nonsense about John Peel, the man who championed Altered Images and was responsible fore the execrable Home Truths. The Archers is far more radical and edgy than 6 - or the dismal Undertones - will ever be.

  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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