Londoners be warned: French pop radio is upon you

Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:24am EST
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Among stereotypes the British and the French like to cultivate about each other is a widely held British view that French pop music is dreadful.

But a new radio station, broadcasting in French from the heart of London, has high hopes of challenging local prejudice.

"Mainstream English radio tends to be inherently dismissive and arrogant when it comes to French music. They will just say 'Ah, it's French? Forget it,'" says Pascal Grierson, founder and CEO of French Radio London or FRL, which launched last week.

The bilingual Grierson is half-French but has spent much of his life in Britain and feels at home in both cultures.

A digital station backed by a few private investors, FRL is mostly aimed at the estimated 400,000 French residents of London, which is often called "France's fifth city."

"This is long overdue. We needed to represent ourselves and reflect the way in which our community integrates with this town," Grierson told Reuters in an interview at FRL's studios.

He wants the station to capture some of the spirit of London and why it attracts so many French people. For example, he says one of the joys of Britain is that people take themselves less seriously than in France, and FRL will aim to emulate the brand of self-deprecating humor that works so well in Britain.

But his ambition stretches further. He says there is also an untapped market of British francophiles, and FRL can conquer it.   Continued...