I love listening to BBC 6Music - it's by far the best music-playing national digital radio station (and that includes crappy XFM and Virgin) - but I'm constantly astonished at how similar to student radio the output often sounds. That's to say that it features a lot of the good points of student radio - natural sounding presenters, thoughtfully picked music and the freedom to talk frankly - plus makes a few of the same mistakes (playing the wrong record, CDs skipping, not hitting the news on time).
6Music presenter Andrew Collins has just written a blog entry about the new 6Music studio though, which shows that behind the scenes, the station is even more like student radio.
He says that as they only have one studio, "handovers are effected by the previous team getting out and the next team coming in while the last record is playing". Yep - I remember doing that in our studio at Rare FM too. Some student stations do have two or more studios, but most have a single studio setup I think.
He moans about their old studio being grubby - "worn carpet, tatty headphones, broken TV, broken webcam, worn faders". Check, check, check, check, check. We had all of those problems in our studio at Rare FM (although they've now got a shiny new desk, new headphones and a new computer monitor).
Finally, some of the presenters at 6Music seem to be about as bad at keeping the studio clean as some of the DJs working for Rare FM whilst I was in charge. Mouldy cups of tea, empty food cartons, bins overflowing with beer cans and wine bottles - I've seen it all too.
Still, for all of the shambolic problems you can have with studios in student radio or at 6Music, perhaps the shabbiness somehow contributes to the genuine 'rawness' of the station output.
The 6Music breakfast show with Phil Jupitus has been doing occassional broadcasts from student stations around the country, which is a really great idea. I imagine they feel right at home...