Out With the Old… Four words for Radio 1: Why Not Pete Tong?

Words by: Cila Warncke
Posted: 12/12/11 11:13

Out With the Old… Four words for Radio 1: Why Not Pete Tong?News is that Britain’s BBC Radio 1 is having a much-needed clear-out of its old DJ line-up with Judge Jules, Gilles Peterson, Fabio & Grooverider and Kissy Sell Out all leaving the station. Brilliant, and a long-overdue move. When someone as old as me looks at a DJ and thinks “jeez, he’s old” it’s definitely time for them to move aside and made way for the young ‘uns. So why is Radio 1 clinging to that mouldering idol, Pete Tong? Are they superstitious that if they get rid of this particular relic the studio will implode?

Much respect to Mr Tong for the role he played in the birth of British electronic music culture, and for his stalwart work as a spokesman for dance music. But ye olden days are in the past. It’s time to let someone else step up to the mic and bring a new set of sounds and influences. Radio 1 has recruited Skream & Benga, Toddla T, Friction, and Charlie Sloth to replace its outgoing jocks so they are quite capable of sourcing talent. Why not show some gumption, give Pete the graceful retirement he deserves, and find some young – or at least younger – gun to take his place?

Thinking about change is particularly apropos as we approach 2012. According to Mayan legend the world is going to end in the coming year so now is a damn fine time to get out of our comfort zones. If you’re going to die, don’t die bored! This especially applies to music. I was in a shop the other day and heard a tedious, generic ‘pop’ dance tune that sampled ‘Strings of Life.’ Come on people: let Rhythim Is Rhythim rest in peace. The venerable classics of dance music should be allowed to mellow on the shelf like fine wine; they don’t need to be dragged out, watered down and served in the aural equivalent of plastic cups. We need to stop settling for tedious, conservatism, because as long as being boring pays the rent DJs and producers will oblige us by churning out mediocrities.

The beautiful thing is once we firmly reject the boring and redundant we will make space in our clubs, iPods and eardrums for music that has the capacity to thrill us, and events that are more than just going through the motions. My current roomie is, like me, a jaded veteran of a thousand clubs from Ibiza to London to Barcelona and beyond. His new rave? Gutterslut ,  a knees-up in an East London basement bar where straight kids mix with grizzled trannies, and trucker caps and merkins are equally fashionable. It’s the best of old/new electronic culture: chaotic, stylish, polysexual, silly and very loud. And in a world where you can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV without being bludgeoned by bad news it is a much-needed escape.

As we say goodbye to 2011 let’s raise a half-full glass to the artists and enterprises that have kept us dancing, laughing, dreaming and sane through the last 12 months. And tip our hats to all who – like Radio 1 – are pressing forward and saying: out with the old, in with the new!


Roberto Capuano
Politics Of Dancing
Ralph Lawson