Baby you can't drive my car

By Louis Barfe

I subscribe to the quaint, old- fashioned idea that a drivetime radio show should keep homeward commuters alert and informed as well as entertained. Consequently, I do not recommend that you listen to Tina Hobley’s show
on Smooth Radio (weekdays, 4-7pm) when driving. Or, for that matter, at all.  I’ve found myself tuning in near Bristol on medium wave out of desperation on a couple
of recent journeys when reception of other stations has forsaken me. The jingles, voiced by people who sound like they’ve just had a milky drink and blown out the candle, instruct the listener to ‘relaaaaaaax’. Rubbish – tension is the only think keeping most of us going. This instruction is downright dangerous.

I would wonder how Hobley (who qualified for this plum radio gig by, er, playing a nurse in Holby City) herself manages to stay awake during her show if it weren’t transparently obvious that she’s not actually there when it goes out. I suspected as much a month or so ago when the most topical reference she could muster was that it would soon be half-term. My suspicions were confirmed when on the M4 in one of the recent blizzards. Morbid fascination led me to stick with Hobley for the best part of an hour, through some godawful music, to see if she made any mention of the snow. Not a sausage.

It’s called voice tracking. The voice turns up, says ‘I can hear you, Clem Fandango’ and then records a month’s worth of links before lunch. It’s cheap and it makes for terrible, stilted, semi-automated radio, but hey, it stops the ads from bumping into each other. There must be any number of talented radio presenters who’d remortgage their teeth to have a shot at a major drivetime gig. It’s just not good enough.