BBC set for U-turn over local radio cuts after outcry from listeners and MPs | Media | The Guardian

Well, this is good news. It is becoming a bit boring, though, to be honest. Every now and then, the BBC, for whatever reason, decides it has to cut back on its radio stations. This time, it’s the whole of the BBC local radio network, some 40 stations. Last year it was BBC 6 Music, the DAB digital station.

And many years ago, the ‘Save GLR Campaign’ managed to increase the audience figures for the ‘local’ station for London at a time when its own publicity machine was to all intents and purposes non-existent.

‘Delivering Quality First’ is the heading under which the BBC is making cuts to many of its services. One of the many arguments against cutting back on the local radio services is: how come such gems as BBC 3’s ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ is still going?

The BBC should be making and broadcasting programmes, on TV as well as on radio, that the commercial sector wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole. It should not be copying ITV’s output, it should be innovating. People are quite rightly cross that the BBC is going to start showing ‘The Voice’ which is a copy of ITV’s ‘The X Factor’, and if stories are to be believed, its judges, possibly including one Kylie Minogue will be paid millions of pounds – money which would easily keep the threatened local radio stations going for several months.

I’m not the biggest fan of BBC London, apart from those bits still left over from its predecessor, the aforementioned GLR, but it too has its own loyal following. And I’m sure the same can be said for the other local radio stations.

BBC set for U-turn over local radio cuts after outcry from listeners and MPs | Media | The Guardian.

As some of the comments make clear, the Director General Mark Thompson doesn’t come out of this well. He is so out of touch with the BBC’s audience, he really shouldn’t be in that position.

Johnny Vaughan

Unexpected news today that Johnny Vaughan is leaving Capital FM’s Breakfast Show after eight years. Nowhere near the longevity of his predecessor, Chris Tarrant!

It seems he’s leaving with immediate effect. Not that it bothers me, really. At that time of day, I’m at work and the radio station on in the background is very rarely Capital. Often, though, it is another one with the same kind ‘personality’ led music show: a bloke and girl combo where the bloke is the funny one and the girl is the ditzy sidekick who has to laugh at all the bloke’s gags and well-rehearsed ad-libs and one-liners.

Johnny Vaughan said: “I have just loved doing this job but after all these years of getting up in the middle of the night, I really think the time is right to hand over the microphone to someone else. It’s been a joy waking up London every morning and a thrill to have been part of the broadcasting tapestry of this great city.”

On Twitter, Christian O’Connell said: “For record..Johnny Vaughan very very funny and so smart. Was so intimidated by his talent when i took over from him on Fighting Talk. Dont know whats happened and why at Crapital.”

Crapital? I haven’t heard it called that since the early days in the 1970s when it was called Capital Radio and often went off-air at unexpected times. The reason given was that the cleaners would turn up and disconnect some vital piece of equipment so they could plug in the vacuum cleaner. Or maybe that is apocryphal, who knows?

Anyway, Johnny’s off after eight years. Prior to joining Capital, Johnny presented  Channel 4’s Big Breakfast show, which was felt to be close enough in format to a radio programme. He had also worked on the old BBC Radio 5 and on the top BBC station for London, GLR.




Nile Rodgers – Outlook, 14/11/2011

This wasn’t the first time that Nile Rodgers has assaulted my ears this year. I heard the programme on BBC World Service this morning. ‘Outlook’ features ‘Extraordinary personal stories from around the world.’ And this week’s subject was Nile Rodgers. It is available here for a week: BBC World Service Programmes – Outlook, 14/11/2011.

He  is interviewed by Matthew Bannister on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography entitled ‘Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny’. He did indeed have a very difficult upbringing which makes it all the more surprising, perhaps, that he could write fantastic, uplifting songs such as ‘Good Times’.

Previously, in September 2011, my wife and I attended the Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park Concert, billed as ‘a festival in a day’. And amongst the artistes playing were Chic, featuring Nile Rodgers and his very distinctive guitar sound. Although the Sun was going down by the time they appeared on stage, they brought their own sunshine.

Chic at Hyde Park, September 11, 2011And finally, here is Nile Rodgers again being interviewed by Lauren Laverne.

Radio Luxembourg: 20 years on

Radio Luxembourg closed down 20 years ago. To commemorate this anniversary, The Radio Academy has organised a special evening in London on Monday 28th November. Follow this link for more details: Radio Luxembourg | The Radio Academy.

I remember listening to Radio Luxembourg mainly in the late 1960s and early 1970s: sometimes, literally under the bedclothes late at night. Reception was a bit unreliable. After dark, the radio waves bounced off the ionosphere which was rising, and so the sound faded in and out. Nowadays, with FM and DAB, we don’t have to put up with that sort of nonsense!

I swapped my trainsets for a transistor radio much to my parents’ disgruntlement, but as I became more interested in listening to radio and especially pop music in those days, my trainsets were, after all, only collecting dust…. Forty years on and now, of course, I would love to see those trainsets just one more time.

Anyway, it was on Radio Luxembourg (Fab 208) that I first heard Todd Rundgren’s song ‘I saw the Light’. And if I remember correctly, it was several weeks before I heard it broadcast on Radio 1.

When I first heard Vicky Leandros’s ‘Après Toi’ in 1972, I somehow knew it would win that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. I should have put a bet on it.

Unfortunately, I have no tape recordings of any Radio Luxembourg show. But I just found this site which looks fairly comprehensive:
This Is Radio Luxembourg; Your Station Of The Stars; The Great 208.

If you’re going to the Radio Academy event, maybe I’ll see you there.

John Peel’s Shed

Well, that’s very disappointing. ‘John Peel’s Shed’ is being recorded for radio tonight at the BBC Radio Theatre near Oxford Circus. I applied for a ticket at the earliest opportunity and didn’t hear anything, so I assumed they were over-subscribed. So that’s a little disappointing.

But what is even more disappointing is that I have just received an email with my e-ticket. It was sent at 16:09 and I read it at 18:30. According to the ticket, doors open at 18:15 and recording begins 1t 19:15. There is no way I can get to this venue in time. And, to be honest, even if I’d received the email straightaway, it would have been a bit of a rush, to say the least: I live about an hour away from central London, if the trains cooperate.

So, what am I missing? In 2002, John Osborne won a competition on John Peel’s Radio One show. His prize was a box of records that took eight years to listen to. The show, performed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, ‘is an ode to radio, those records and anyone who’s ever sought solace in wireless. Adapted from his acclaimed book Radio Head, Radio 4’s Book Of The Week and featuring records previously owned by John Peel.’ I imagine tonight’s recording is a version adapted for future broadcast on Radio 4. Or maybe Radio 2. 6 Music? Anyway, I’ll be looking out for it.

But what a shame my ticket arrived late. I’m hoping that my name is not now on some kind of BBC ticket blacklist!

Just a Minute – soon to be on TV

Just a Minute has been broadcast on Radio 4 for nearly 45 years. To celebrate this amazing achievement, ten episodes from the next series will also be shown on BBC2. Recordings take place later this month. The game involves panel members attempting to speak for 60 seconds without hesitation, deviation or repetition on a subject given by the chairman, Nicholas Parsons. Several contenders have been very successful over the years. I particularly remember Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo and Kenneth Williams but more recently, Paul Merton and Ross Noble have been very entertaining. Sometimes, interpretation of the rules appears to be a bit hit and miss but it’s all good, safe fun. While usually predictable, the odd surprise makes this programme a continued joy, whether you listen to its every utterance or just have the show on in the background.

Just a Minute

Elbow at Manchester Cathedral

A week ago, Elbow played a concert in Manchester Cathedral. This was a bit of a homecoming for them after world tours and a fantastic Glastonbury Festival this year. The show was broadcast live on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 ‘In Concert’ and on the ‘Red Button’ channel on TV. The encore was broadcast during Gideon Coe’s show on DAB digital station BBC 6 Music.

I am listening to the show now, a week later, on BBC iPlayer, and it will be available there for just a few more hours. Until it’s replaced by tonight’s show.

I suspect that readers outside the UK might struggle to access BBC iPlayer but I’ve heard that there are ways around this geographical restriction.

I don’t know how to form links here, yet, but since this is only valid for a short while:

Cheers, Mick

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