Alex Dickson - Speaking in 1988 on music scheduling

Sep 01, 2012, 04:14 PM

In days when few stations are operating without some form of computer-aided song selection, it's strange to believe that this was once a revolutionary prospect. Music is such a subjective area, how can a computer do the job of deciding which songs should be played? 'My listeners listen to me because of the songs I choose' cried many presenters.

Programmers were divided. The likes of Mike Powell, Len Groat and Phil Riley embraced a useful tool, others were outspoken against it.

Here, Alex Dickson, then a time-served Clyde Programme Controller (reach 50+%!) suggests he hates the thought of it as he speaks in July 1988. It is all very worrying, but you can just hear pennies dropping, wisely, as he draws his own conclusions.

At Trent, we had two boxes of songs divided into four categories and a paper 'clock' for each hour which told us which categories to use. Oldies were free choice, although the era was prescribed. That level of 'free choice' oldies was embraced by some. Many presenters had their own extensive vinyl libraries with neatly-catalogued songs and their own records of which they'd played. Others used the radio station's own library and played the same obscure favourites over and over again.