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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Blackburn victory over Cliff ban
Tony Blackburn
Blackburn said he was "delighted" to be back at Classic Gold Digital
DJ Tony Blackburn is returning to radio station Classic Gold Digital after his suspension on Wednesday - with Sir Cliff Richard songs on the play list.

Blackburn had been told not to play Sir Cliff's music on Monday, but tore up the memo on air, before playing two of his songs on Wednesday.

Classic Gold Digital said Blackburn will return on Friday, and Sir Cliff's music will join the play list.

"We've been overwhelmed by the support for Cliff," said chief John Baish.

"We should be playing him as much as The Beatles, and we play the Beatles quite often," he told BBC News Online.

He said Blackburn's suspension had been prompted by the way differences of opinion over the playlist were settled.

Sir Cliff Richard
I tried to talk my way onto playlists but it didn't work - I had done nothing wrong to be banned in this way
Sir Cliff Richard
"This row was never actually about Cliff, it was just a situation with Tony that got out of control. I'm glad we resolved it," Mr Baish said.

Blackburn said: "I'm delighted this business has been settled. I enjoy working with Classic Gold and doing my breakfast show immensely.

"I'm also pleased that we're going to be playing Cliff Richard records," he added. "It's the listeners who have come out on top."

Speaking at Wimbledon, Sir Cliff said: "I'm thrilled really. I had given up being worried about it three or four years ago.

"I tried to talk my way onto playlists but it didn't work and I didn't understand why - I had done nothing wrong to be banned in this way.

"Now Tony had taken up the cudgel, I thought, great."

We're not playing records for management, we're playing them for our listeners
Tony Blackburn
Blackburn had earlier told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he would "rather not lose my job over Cliff Richard", but the suspension had a "serious point".

"We're not playing records for management, we're playing them for our listeners. And the listeners like Cliff," he said.

On Tuesday, Blackburn played the singer's 1963 hit Summer Holiday, leading to an e-mail from head of programmes Paul Baker.

"We shouldn't be playing Cliff Richard," Mr Baker wrote.

The Leader of the Commons is right behind Tony Blackburn in his choice of music
Peter Hain MP
"We might carry out research on him, but for now we have a policy decision that he doesn't match our brand values. He's not on the playlist, and you must stop playing him."

But Blackburn tore up the message and played two more chart-toppers by Sir Cliff the following day - 1959's Living Doll and We Don't Talk Any More from 1979.

The issue was even raised in the House of Commons, when Peter Hain MP spoke of his support for Blackburn.

"The Leader of the Commons is right behind Tony Blackburn in his choice of music," he said.


Was Tony Blackburn right to champion Sir Cliff's music - and was Classic Gold right to back down and add it to the playlist? Below are a selection of your comments.

What have they got against Cliff?! He's not exactly Marilyn Manson is he? I wouldn't expect Radio 1 to play Cliff because his music probably only appeals to older listeners on the whole, but I wouldn't have thought that was a problem for Classic Gold.
Helen, Exeter, UK

Yes they were right to put Cliff back, but Tony was wrong in how he handled the issue with the station's management, the suspension was also correct
Mark Alexander, Chertsey, UK

I don't listen to that programme anyway as I prefer local stations (like my town's) and think they deserve much better support.
Richard, Chelmsford, Essex

Speaking as someone who has never shared the broad appreciation of Sir Cliff's releases, I have to record my annoyance at an oldies station that wont play some oldies. Brand values? Well isn't their "brand" the music of yesteryear? THAT is the brand they should be focussing on, to pick and choose is (to me) stepping outside of their genre, the brand is defined by the age of the music, Not by artiste! Its time these companies stopped dictating our heritage to us and just got on with the job of entertaining the audience by bowing to the wishes of that audience. Its all part of the current ideology of trying to think for us rather than listening to our views, and it must be stopped.
Cris Page, Pembroke, West Wales

It seems to me that the DJ would be much more in touch with what pleases the listening public than anyone cocooned in an office. At the end of the day, who really cares if they play Cliff Richard or not?
John Flemming, Islington, London, UK

Tony Blackburn is right - Cliff is an icon of British popular music and although not to everyone's taste it is only right that his songs be played. I think Classic Gold would have lost a lot of listeners if it hadn't changed policy.
Ewan Armstrong, Sheffield UK

Classic Gold were wrong to suspend Tony Blackburn for playing Cliff Richard songs in the first place, but it's right they should keep Cliff on the airwaves - how many singers can you think of who have had hits over the last six decades. Cliff is as relevant now with his music as he was in the 1950s, and long may it continue. Well done Tony for making a stand !!
Andy Roberts, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK

Yes they should have Sir Cliff on the play list. He is a classic gold artist. Good old Tony for showing these people how silly this all is.
Janice Grainger, Oxon

Who cares?!
Bob Lamont, Dudley

He should never have been taken off the playlist! What are 'brand values' anyway? This has me intrigued... Just another example of modern mumbo-jumbo/flannelling by arrogant prats who don't care or want to know what the public like (which is Cliff!) They're just jealous of his popularity - he'll still be famous long after they're has-beens!
Fiona Norris, Coleraine, Northern Ireland

It's nice to see this one resolved in a mature manner by both parties. Can you imagine if it had been Chris Evans?
JR, Somerset, UK

Let's just hope that Wimbledon impose a similar ban.
Dave Williams, Prudhoe.UK

I'm not a Cliff fan, but in the UK he is number two (behind Elvis). Of course he should be played! Welcome back Tony!
Dominic Hill, Burnham, UK

I don't particularly like Cliff Richard, and I don't even listen to Classic Gold, but I support Tony Blackburn's stand against management interference in an area where he is far more knowledgeable about his listenership.
Mark Rosher, Gloucestershire England

Sounds like a publicity stunt to me. I reckon - like me - many people had not heard of Classic Gold Digital until now. I shan't be tuning in though, with or without Cliff on the playlist. I wondered what had happened to Tony Blackburn after the jungle thing.
Mark, Enfield, England

Tony's right - it's not about Cliff Richard 's records, it's about the men in suits not being in touch with their audience. They should realise that understanding their marketplace is the cornerstone of a business - especially a commercial radio station.
Kevin Macan-Lind, Pirton, England

I am surprised Tony Blackburn risked his job for "We Don't Talk Any More", if it was for "Wired for Sound" that would have been different.
Roger Feldman, Sweden

Well done Tony! Radio Station managers should play the music the listeners want to hear, not what they think they should be listening to. if you can't play Cliff on an oldies station like Classic Gold, where can you play him?
Alan Taylor, Glasgow

If the listeners want Cliff then they should get Cliff. I can't stand the man personally but if that's what Classic Gold listeners tune in to hear then the management would be cutting their own throats and missing the point of commercial radio entirely if they refuse to have him played for reasons of 'brand'.
Bill, London, UK

If Tony Blackburn is the DJ then he should choose what records he plays. If people choose not to listen to his show he should get sacked. Its not about Cliff Richard but the right of the DJ to stamp his own personality on what Music is played. If the DJ can only play what is on the playlist they might as well train a chimp to do it.
Alex Fairborn, Newcastle, UK

Keep on playing Cliff, who cares what people think. If they don't like it they can switch channels for a few minutes. Cliff's songs are far better than today's rubbish that is produced.
Me, UK

It was just a publicity stunt. I said after the initial suspension that Blackburn would soon be back on air -- but I didn't expect it to be quite that quick. Nothing at all has changed because of this, all that's happened is that the station and Blackburn have gained a lot of free publicity and will now play the music that was being used anyway!
Tony, UK

This is a victory for listeners. I'm not a fan of Cliff but people should be able to listen to what they request. I'm fed up with certain artists being deemed 'unsuitable' my radio station management. Classic case in question here is Marillion who recently had a top 10 single but got virtually no airplay because they were deemed 'unsuitable'. This has to stop, especially with the BBC! For as long as I pay my licence fee, I want a say in what is broadcast!
Simon Clarke, Warwickshire

Or should we rather ask why have so many media outlets bought into what is clearly a pre-arranged publicity stunt?
Rich Johnston, London

Looks like Classic Gold's blatant publicity stunt worked. It even got the station a mention on the front page of today's Financial Times. Congratulations to all involved.
Richard, London

I was one of the people that emailed the radio station to tell them they had got it wrong, If they claim to be a station playing classics then Cliff has to be on the playlist as he has been in the charts so many times in so many decades
Richard How, Newport Pagnell UK

Cliff Richard should be on the playlist. Although he does not represent my type of music, many of his hits did become classic. Isn't Classic Gold all about playing classic gold records?
Dave Grace, Fareham, Hants

Of course Classic Gold are right to add Cliff Richard to its playlist. And more than that, they are right to reinstate Tony Blackburn. What a farce. I am not a particular fan of Sir Cliff's, however he is huge in the British music industry both past and present and I cannot see how 'Classic' Gold cannot see that.
Rory Macgregor, Perth, Scotland

I think Paul Baker should resign - he clearly doesn't know his own audience or their tastes. How can he be Head of Programmes. If I were a major sponsor to Capital I'd want his head on a plate.
CHRIS, Somerset, UK

Absolutely. Ultimately it is the listeners who determine whether the playlists are to their liking - by choosing to listen or not. This was clearly a case of the men in charge enforcing a rule for the sake of it, without taking public opinion into consideration. I don't listen to the station in question, neither am I partial to the music of Cliff Richard, but this was a point of principle for Mr Blackburn. Great publicity for Classic Gold Digital though isn't it?...
Adam F, Cambridge, UK

Cliff (and The Drifters/Shadows) started it all in 1957/58, he's had tremendous success with hit's in each decade since and should have his music played.
Alan Mckillop, Motherwell, Scotland

Of course you must play some of Cliff's famous hits - and also play The Shadows which seem to be neglected. Their recent tour - 37 sold out concerts proves that their music deserves to be played. The quality of the recordings of Cliff and The Shadows have also stood it's test of time. Just listen to Wonderful Land - pure and simple magic.
HANS-JØRGEN OLSEN, NORWAY, Fredrikstad

To keep an artist off the air is ignorant and abhorrent. Tony Blackburn was 100% right to play what the listeners wanted. Respect to the 'little guy'!!!!!
Dan, Witham, UK

Of course they were right to add Cliff... and keep Tony Blackburn. They're both national institutions. They'll be both be known long after Classic Gold has come and gone!
Jay, Istanbul, Turkey

I can't stand Cliff Richard. I have never listened to Classic Gold. I'm not too fond of Tony Blackburn either. However, I DO think it's right that he should be allowed to play what he wants by and large. If a DJ is not able to use his judgement as to what music to play, then you may as well just automate the entire process and do away with the human element.
Richard Williams, East Midlands, UK

I'm no particular fan of Sir Cliff's music, but what on earth does the music and media industry have against him? Of course he should be on the playlist.
David Jefferis, Brill, Bucks, UK

Cliff Richard may be very annoying, but radio should be about what the listeners want, not corporate suit playlist Gestapo.
Rob Banks, Bristol

Of course Classic Gold was right to ADD Cliff Richard to its playlist. Just the name of the station says it all - "Classic Gold". Can't imagine any reason for not playing Cliff. It's ridiculous to say "he doesn't match our brand values". What "brand values"?
Colleen Lindley, Sawbridgeworth UK

Yeah, I detest Cliff Richards, but radio playlists are for the benefit of the people listening - not the business - such is the way with commercial stations & sadly, also stations like Radio1 - they rarely play anything I'm interested in during 'core' hours.
Ade, UK

I can't stand Cliff Richard's music, but radio stations can't go taking 'policy' decisions like this - particularly when they are commercial. It's the listeners that keep them on-air, so if that's what they want I don't see the problem in giving it to them.
Steve P, Widnes, Cheshire

How can a 'classic' gold station NOT play Cliff. He was an icon for a complete generation. Management in radio stations, like everywhere else, have little idea of what their customers want. TB is not my favourite older DJ but good for him for standing up and making a point. Perhaps the station might want to ask the listeners next!!
john Knight, Portsmouth

Of course Sir Cliff should be on the playlist. He's part of the musical history of this country. Pure Classic Gold Pop. Presumably the person who made such an error will be leaving the station, as music, and being aware of what the public want, are clearly not in his skill set. Obviously in the wrong job. Well done TB, or should I say "Congratulations".
Dennis Morgan, Colnbrook, England

Playing classic Cliff is OK but they've got to drawn the line when his target demographic when from the younger generation to the blue rinse brigade. No one deserves that, not even Classic Gold listeners. Mistletoe & Wine, the Lords Prayer song-thing? Do me a favour and play some real classics!
jon, Southampton, UK

Cliff is the number one seller of all time in the UK. What that basically means is that he is very, very, popular with people who listen to music. He is classic and should be played on Classic Gold.
Helen Pritchard, West Midlands UK

It is the management of Classic Gold who manage the station, not Tony Blackburn. As an employee he should follow any instructions or guidance given. If any issue makes him unhappy he should follow station protocol. I do not appreciate Cliff but he does provide quality music which is incredibly popular. Classic Gold should perhaps look at how and why this issue arose in the first place.
, Northern Ireland

Tony Blackburn right when he says "We're not playing records for management, we're playing them for our listeners." Just why are radio stations so averse to playing Cliff records?
Paul, Southampton, UK

Cliff Richard should be included in the Classic Gold playlist. No artist from the 60's, 70's or 80's should be excluded for any reason. DJs should have more freedom in music selection, I support Tony Blackburn 100% he should not have been put into this position in the first place. Viv from Exeter.
Viv Carton (MR), Exeter, UK

Phrases such as 'brand values' are what should be banned. I don't like Cliff R but respect Tony Blackburn for taking the stand that he did.
G. Alexander,

I would have thought the station should play music that we as listeners want to hear or we won't listen. Cliff was an intrinsic part of my youth and yes I know all the words of all his songs and I enjoy joining in. Tony keep up the good work
Mary, Brockworth UK

As an occasional radio presenter myself, I fully support Tony Blackburn here. To hear a radio station manager talking about "brand values" is truly terrifying. Radio is about the listeners and only about the listeners. If you get the output right you'll get the audience that will underpin the advertising revenue that you obviously need. On an oldies station this clearly means you need to play the UK's most successful chart acts from the last few decades, and I think Sir Cliff might just about squeeze in there. Listeners are not interested in the brand - they are interested in the music and the presenters. In the case of Classic Gold, they have obviously decided that Tony Blackburn represents the "brand" of the personality radio DJ, the "way it used to be" if you like, and if that suits their "audience profile" then so should the "brand" of music that a DJ of that school judges to be appropriate. These guys need to put away their MBAs and wake up. You can tighten the playlist for more specialist shows, but not the breakfast show, for goodness sake!
David, London, UK

Classic Gold have seen the light to add Cliff Richard to its playlist. I absolutely just adore Sir Cliff Richard - the Ultimate Pop Star! Sometimes some folks in the UK especially those in the media, radio & entertainment world, just don't know how to acknowledge, appreciate, recognize & respect his talent & music. This is really sad. Cliff is one of Britain's National Treasures. He is an International Treasure!
Pina Azares Capati-Jocson, New York City - U S A

Why should Cliff be kept off air, its obvious he music is popular. Perhaps Mr Baker should be hosting the weakest link and get voted off..
Maureen Walker, Birmingham

I think Tony Blackburn should be given a knighthood for his stand. After all Cliff Richard is consistently this country's biggest hit maker! This wouldn't have been a publicity stunt would it?
Martin Rosen, London, England

I see no reason why Cliff Richard songs should not be played - he has some excellent music.
Louise Scott, Bicester, Oxfordshire

I agree to including Cliff Richard to its and any other radio station's playlist.
Jane Grove, Warrington, England

What on earth is Capital Classic Gold for if it does not play records from the UK's most successful recording artist ever? Paul Baker should consider his position - obviously Sir Cliff is far more popular than he is!
D J Walker, Purley, Surrey

It's good to see that Tony was able to convince the station that Cliff's great tunes should be played.
Artie Lange, New York

The station was being a bit absurd in not having Cliff on their playlist since how much more "golden oldie" can you get than Cliff? And as for that "matching out brand values" management-for-dummies guff , oh please! On the other hand Tony is employed by the station and when you work for a company (contract or permanent) part of your contract of employment is that you abide by the company rules whether you agree with them or not, and for a radio station one of the rules is that you stick to the playlist unless you have special dispensation to do otherwise. So I'm afraid that even though I tend to agree with his point of view Tony was in the wrong here.
Neil, London

I am not particularly a Cliff Richard fan, however I do appreciate that he has recorded many lovely songs popular right across the board. The real issue is that listeners should have the music and singers they wish to listen to. Good for you Tony!
Annie Matheson, Maidenhead, England

Its all a fuss about nothing. After all what are gold stations designed for? To play oldies and that includes Cliff Richard. Whether you like him or not!!
MARK LEVY, MANCHESTER, UK

Why are there playlists? So radio executives can control the charts and hence the music we hear. If there were no playlists a lot more smaller artists/ bands would make it.
Stuart, Newcastle

This whole episode really highlights the problem with playlists. You only have to listen to any station for three songs before you know which one it is by the same records as the previous day. It is for this reason I have stopped listening to many stations. Tony should of been able to play what he wanted whether it was Cliff or not. Playlists should be for guidance-not written in stone.br />Brian, London

Of course he should be on the playlist. Classic Gold is great because it appeals to a wide audience because of the wide choice of records it plays. I am not a fan of Cliff though thousands are and they should be able to listen to him. Bill
bill barker, Camberley, UK

It's what the listeners want so they should play him.
A Gower, Carmarthenshire

As a presenter on Moorlands Radio and an operator of Juke Boxes, I feel its all about choice, the wider the choice the better. There is a huge audience of Baby Boomers out there who are badly catered for. Good for you Tony, Sir Cliff may not be everyone's choice, but variety is the spice of life!
Kingsley Sime, Leek, Staffordshire

What a publicity stunt! And it worked. Now all the Cliff fans will listen to Tony and everyone else in the country has been alerted to Tony's whereabouts. That must have been worth half a million pounds of advertising. I despair. Now watch the listening figures rocket...
James, Sheffield, UK

John Baish and his playlist mafia are what's wrong with radio and the music industry. People don't care about "brand values", they just want to hear the music they like. Cliff Richard is not one of my favourites, but if people want to hear him, Classic Gold should play him. I am far less likely to listen to Classic Gold now that it has confirmed the emptiness of its "values" which are based on marketing tosh. Come on, Classic FM, tear up your playlists, play interesting, different music!
Robert, Ilfracombe, England

It would seem slightly odd that an artist who has had chart singles over 5 decades cannot have his older material regarded as "classic" for a station playing ostensibly classic chart hits. I cant say I like all of Cliff's songs but you can't say that they aren't memorable, in most cases danceable, and most people (of a certain age) will know the words too. Why was he not on the list to start with?
Rod Main, Newhaven, UK

An obvious PR stunt no doubt concocted to co-inside with Wimbledon which is linked to Cliff since his now famous performance. Shame that Classic Gold and Tony Blackburn have to sink to these levels to get people to list to great music.
Harry Flashman, London

definitely Classic gold should be playing music from all artists in the golden eras that listeners want, not what few the management want to be played.
S, Brighton

Cliff Richard is a national treasure and this country should be proud of his enormous contribution to pop music over the past six decades. Millions of people buy his music and that should speak louder than any market research conducted by Classic Gold. Well done to Tony Blackburn for taking a stand for common sense and playing the music that his listeners want to hear. Classic Gold should give him a pay rise immediately.
Justin Robinson, Cardiff

I think a station like Classic Gold should be playing Cliff Richard. Radio stations are meant to be playing the music that is popular with their listeners. Quite clearly Cliff is popular, therefore his music should be played
Helen Judges, Maidstone, Kent

A victory for the people! We don't often get what we want only what people think we want.
Joycelyn Sanders, Stratford-upon-Avon

I think Tony Blackburn should have respected his employers' policy, and if he wished to voice disagreement he should have done it in a private meeting. He has abused his position within the organisation.
Neil, Bognor Regis

Tony Blackburn deserves applause for his stand against this form of censorship. He is absolutely right, it is the listeners (the customers)who should be considered. I don't like jazz but I expect to hear it for the benefit of those who appreciate that style of music.
Peter Masker, Chester, England

Of course Classic Gold should add Cliff to the playlist. Cliff is right up there in terms of achievement (and I'm not even a fan!). The listeners want him, and farewell any organisation who chooses to ignore what their customers want... Well done Tony for making stand! He shouldn't have had to though.
Gary, Marlow, UK

Of course he should be added, he's still very popular and lots of people want to hear his music. The fact that he was taken off is hardly surprising though as certain people and organisations in this country seem to have lost the plot completely.
Adrian hart, beds




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SEE ALSO:
Tony Blackburn in Sir Cliff row
23 Jun 04  |  Entertainment
Cliff tops all-time singles chart
23 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
Blackburn is Oldie of the Year
18 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
Blackburn makes Radio 1 return
14 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
Tony Blackburn: Golden Oldie
09 Sep 02  |  Entertainment


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