The joy of Six

<p>&quot;I am a writer. I would much rather have been a musician as may become clear over the course of this show and also to anyone who has read any of my Inspector Rebus novels.&quot;<br />
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So Ian Rankin opened his debut slot as DJ for BBC 6 Music's recent &quot;Paperback Writers&quot; strand.<br />
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The three-part series, which ended on Sunday, comprised Rankin, Simon Armitage and Jonathan Coe picking an hour's worth of songs and ruminating between tracks. <br />
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It's a great idea with a great name (do you see what they did there?) and each show was a fascinating look into each writer's choice of music: who knew that Jonathan Coe loves Sufjan Stevens, or that Simon Armitage would pick David Bowie, Talking Heads and The Fall (actually I saw that one coming). <br />
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It's also a great fit with the station. 6Music is a literary channel (compared to, say Radio One):&nbsp; Pulp frontman/ DJ Jarvis Cocker's Sunday show recently included an interview with Nick Hornby, plus readings from Jonathan Franzen's <i>Freedom</i> set to music. The Tuesday Nemone show has a book slot, while there are frequently booky guests on Shaun Keaveny's breakfast show (the same Shaun Keaveny who has a tie-in title from Boxtree).<br />
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My only quibble with &quot;Paperback Writers&quot; [and I did miss Armitage's show] was that there wasn't much actual books content. It would have been interesting to hear more about the effects of music on each author's writing- with healthy mentions of book titles of course.<br />
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Admittedly, there was only a brief link between each song&mdash;but the power of recommendation prevails: when Coe discussed his choice of the Pernice Brothers' track B S Johnson, which was written in tribute to his own biography of the avant-garde author, his modest mention had me scurrying to the internet to find out the title (<i>Like a Fiery Elephant</i>, from Picador, indeed). <br />
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As 6Music deputy editor Mike Hanson pointed out to me, &quot;there's a relationship between book lovers and music&quot;. 6Music listeners tend to be both, he said: &quot;Research shows that our audience is quite up-market. Of the other radio stations they listen to, half listen to Radio 4. They are people who love music and love books&mdash; they're not [just] reading <i>Grazia</i> magazine but also reading novels. Challenging novels as well.&quot;<br />
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An ideal 6Music literary guest would be a producer of&nbsp; &quot;cool, cultish, left-field literary fiction, challenging like our music&quot;.<br />
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The station, which was threatened with closure earlier this year, now attracts 1.2m listeners a week, each listening on average for eight hours. This is a dedicated, booky, youngish demographic&mdash;with Hanson looking to expand the Paperback Writers strand next year&mdash; perhaps 6Music could prove to be the &quot;rock n roll&quot; little sister of Radio 4?<br />
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