My Planet Rocks (Planet Rock)

Andy Copping does Desert Island Discs for rockers.

My Planet Rocks
Planet Rock

“You can't argue with those songs," someone was saying on Planet Rock. "But I moved on and I was kind of into Uriah Heep and Deep Purple - and then Ritchie Blackmore left and I got totally obsessed."

As a rule of thumb, Planet Rock's main draw is its dogged lack of random trivia. This is, hands-down, the most comforting station in the country: as familiar to the senses as a wooden draining board in a Lake District holiday home (smelling of cedar and mould, eternally slightly sodden to the touch). The station's rise is deservedly unstoppable, with a 52 per cent upswing in listenership among 15-to-34-year-olds and 857,000 new listeners this year. Most of them tune in to Alice Cooper's show in the evening, enjoying the moment of melancholy when he comes off air, the sudden unfilled space of loss, as if a door had suddenly opened on to a storage room.

The station's best show is My Planet Rocks (Sundays, 7pm), a kind of Desert Island Discs. On 28 August, the Download Festival promoter Andy Copping was in the driving seat. He allowed his guests to chat away and frequently to drip like Chinese water torture, picking the songs that had influenced them most without making any meaningful intervention. There was no Kirsty Young, narrowing her eyes and steering with a "Yes, we'll come back to that" or, "Before we talk about your second marriage, can we . . ."

“I used to have 30,000 CDs. Bonkers, amazing," said one of the guests. "Bonkers, amazing," nodded Andy, resting his chin on one hand.
“I even had special racks made," continued the guest. "My wife thought it did kind of look amazing. Then, we had the room redone and everything's all over the place now."

Andy let him ramble on. The fat-to-muscle ratio of this show was spectacularly, gorgeously unimpressive. "Just a great album, wasn't it?" mused the guest. "Just think of the tracks on that album. I remember the video and it was great." Suddenly, he became hugely animated: "Demos! I get demos all the time, Andy! I've said it before and I'll say it again. They're just terrible. Demos are awful. Demos are the bane of my life." Andy flicked a switch and we were into "Tarot Woman" by Rainbow.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron vs the shires