Anyone that has regularly had to endure the BBC’s “6-0-6” will be more than aware of the uniquely frustrating feeling of listening boors arguing with boors for hours on end about matters that neither party seems to fully understand. Football on the radio has been ghettoised by the formulaic phone-in for more years than can be healthy but there have been a couple of exceptions to this rule, not least of which has been the outstanding broadcasting of Danny Baker over the last couple of decades, which has steadily broken the mould of what we have a right to expect from football on the radio (and old episodes of which are still available here).
Baker’s limitless interest in the outer limits of the culture of our game provides us with boundless entertainment, but there remains a dearth of broadcasting about football that treats lovers of the game with anything approaching a degree of intelligence elsewhere. Indeed, every time we may think that bottom of the barrel has been scraped in this respect, somebody manages to locate a new low. It almost feels as if broadcasters have teams of scientists with electron microscopes doing this for them. “Sir, I think we’ve finally found the lowest common denominator – it’s called “The Fanbanta Show”, one group would say, before someone from another company trumps them with “James Corden’s World Cup”. At this rate, we can look forward to “Jordan & Syd ‘Supersonic’ Little’s Diarrhoea Flinging Footie Party” at some time around the start of the 2014 World Cup finals.
It’s not all bad news, however, and London’s Resonance FM has begun a football programme on Friday evenings which hopes to bring a little more intelligence to the football landscape than we are currently treated to. “Cafe Calcio” began just over two weeks ago, and is hosted by Chris Dixon, David Stubbs (who, to declare an interest, allowed his recent book “Send Them Victorious” to be scribbled all over by our very own Ted Carter), Chris Roberts and Jonathan McKeith. The show is broadcast at 21.00 on Friday evenings and, whilst it can only be listened to on the radio by those amongst us that live in the London area, miracles of modern technology mean that anyone can listen live to the show through Resonance’s website.
Finally, since the producers of the programme know that a sizeable proportion of the sophisticated listenership that they are hoping to find is likely to spend their Friday evening in a high-class private club, sipping port, smoking fine cheroots and discussing the state of the empire, the programme is repeated the following day at 15.30 and is then made available as an MP3 through this website. To give you an example of a what sort of areas the show covers, last week’s broadcast featured an interview withe the writer Anthony Clavane on the subject of his new book, “Promised Land: The Reinvention Of Leeds United”, a discussion on the extent to which it is appropriate that footballers can be considered role models and a (re?)evaluation of CW Alcock, one the the most important innovators in Victorian football. Amongst this week’s guests will be two friends of this site, the first chairman of AFC Wimbledon, Kris Stewart, and the (all-too occasional) writer of the FC United blog “It’ll Be Off”, Chris Taylor. It should be eventful, to say the least.
Partiality aside, it is to be hoped that Cafe Calcio is a success if for no other reason that, in these intellectually-straitened times, there is plenty of room for intelligent discourse on the subject of football. There may be those that shrink from any discussion of the game that involves words of more than two syllables, but they have enough media coverage of the game to themselves already. If Cafe Calcio can get any sort of foothold, it may just persuade those in a position to be able to do something about it that the likes of “Jordan & Syd ‘Supersonic’ Little’s Diarrhoea Flinging Footie Party” can be postponed for a little longer.