BBC News – Record ratings for digital radio stations

Here’s the news article straight from the horse’s mouth:
BBC News – Record ratings for digital radio stations.

But in summary, BBC 6 Music, the Asian Network and Radio 4 Extra have all gained more listeners during the last three months.

Absolute Radio has the highest proportion of listeners tuning in via digital means rather than analogue, FM.

In London, Capital Radio beat RAdio 1 at breakfast time. Chris Moyles’s final quarter saw a continuing decline in his audience.

Overall, it appears that radio continues to attract more listeners and for longer periods each week.

I’ve never been asked but I know my listening habits are well above average. As I’ve said before, there is literally not enough time for me to listen to everything I want to. Yes, I still find time to watch TV, but that is seldom as satisfying. Homeland is great, though, very intense.

But given the time constraints, I’m afarid I didn’t even try to listen to Radio 2’s collection of Beatles programmes broadcast during October. As big a Beatles fan as I am, after all this time, i think I’d rather listen to their music than listen to even more people talking about them and their stories and their influences.

Last weekend’s Bob Harris show was brilliant, from my point of view. He played records by so many of my favourites: Frank Zappa, The Shadows, Steely Dan, Ruarri Joseph, Sam Cook, Tasmin Archer, John Lee Hooker, not to mention studio guests Robert Cray and Martin Stephenson. Here’s the playlist. Never let it be said that Bob Harris doesn’t play folk music! As I write, there is a day and a half to listen to the programme on the iPlayer.


Mike Harding ‘leaves’ Radio 2

Another day, another incomprehensible decision made by BBC bosses. It was announced two days ago that Mike Harding has been asked to leave his weekly folk programme on Radio 2, and that the slot will be taken over by Mark Radcliffe.

Well, I’ve got nothing against Mark Radcliffe, I quite like his presentation style and I appreciate his knowledge of and enthusiasm for music.

But I love Mike Harding’s show as it is, too. He has introduced me to so many musicians, singers, songwriters and other ‘folkies’ over the years. And it’s always a great feeling when he catches up with performers that I’d been following already, such as Seth Lakeman and Martha Tilston.

So why is he being moved on?

A Radio 2 spokeswoman said the change of presenter would bring a “fresh perspective” to folk and would allow more live broadcasts. I suppose the listeners were clamouring at the doors of Broadcasting House, just begging for a “fresh perspective” in the Folk and Roots programme. And why a different presenter would allow for more live broadcasts is such an obvious red herring, I suspect the spokeswoman in question will be sent away for re-training. I bet Mike would love the opportunity for more live broadcasts, if the production team, and the budgets, and the bureaucracy allow.

I first wrote about Mike is this blog back in March. That day’s blog posting has now received more responses than any other individual posting. Not scientific, I know, but I think it shows that there is a terrific amount of affection for and support for Mike and his show. Please go back, especially to read the comments from other readers.

I try not to be too negative in this corner of the internet, but I can’t hide my disappointment that the decision has been made. So here’s a positive thought: the replacement is Mark Radcliffe, a radio person. Bob Shennan could have chosen yet another boring ‘big name’, another turgid ‘celebrity’ from TV. Shennan (and his predecessor) certainly has form in that department.

So: Mike Harding’s Folk, Roots and Acoustic show has been on Radio 2 for 15 years. It is currently broadcast on Wednesday nights at 7pm. At present, his final show is set to be December 26. His listening audience is estimated to be about 750,000 – vastly increased over the 15 years.

On Facebook, Mike states that the Press Release makes it look as though he decided to go. Hundreds of messages of support were forthcoming there. Here is the offending Press Release from 17/10/12.

Naturally, we listeners want to do whatever we can to keep Mike’s show – and the campaign starts over there, on Facebook: Lighting the Landscape: save Mike Harding, he’s a national treasure. At the time of writing, there are 1093 members of this group. No: actually, I am number 1094. I’ve supported many campaigns and I like to think in my own small way, I helped save BBC 6 Music. So please do all you can to help spread the word! The Controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music is Bob Shennan. It was he who called Mike (apparently the first phone call made in all of 15 years) to break the news. Writing to him, to the BBC Trust, to Radio 4’s Feedback programme, who knows if we can force a re-think?

I suppose there’s a small chance that Radio 3 might take over Mike’s show… There is a precedent: they took one Andy Kershaw on board when his World Music show was finally squeezed out from Radio 1.

But whatever happens in the long term, let’s continue to enjoy Mike’s show on Radio 2. I’ll be keeping at least some of the programmes for posterity, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one!

How the news has been reported:

BBC News – Mike Harding ‘pushed’ from Radio 2 folk show.

The Guardian: Mike Harding hits out at Radio 2 boss.

The Independent: The Rochdale Cowboy bows out with guns blazing.

The Telegraph: Radio 2 axes Mike Harding from folk role.

And here are some other places of interest:

Mike’s Facebook page.

Mike Harding’s Radio 2 page.

Mike’s own website.

BBC Listeners’ Archive

Great news. After all that time, I have finally managed to get rid of a large proportion of my cassette tapes. It’s a long story, so go and grab a cup of tea.

One of my most favourite Christmas presents ever was in 1971 when I was given a portable Sanyo cassette plater/recorder. Like many teenagers at that time, I started to record everything, in the house, trying to get my family to talk, but especially pop music from the radio.

It still fills me with shame to think that I would try to get my Mum to stop bashing the pots and pans while cooking a meal, because I wanted a ‘clean’ copy of the Bee Gees’ latest single. Sorry, Mum. And at that time, of course, I wouldn’t have known that the word ‘clean’ meant that I wanted the song without any extraneous background noise. Equally, I didn’t know that there was any way to tape off the radio other than by holding up the supplied microphone.

Thus started a, well, let’s say ‘hobby’ rather than ‘career’, of recording broadcast material.

Through the late 1970s I specialised in Capital Radio, when it was worth listening to. We had the likes of Kenny Everett, Tony Myatt, Roger Scott and Little Nicky Horne. I still have some of these tapes, including Ev’s World’s Worst Wireless Show, featuring 30 of the worst pop records ever made.

Mostly I was now recording programmes to listen to at a later time, rather than individual songs, trying to edit the DJ out on the fly.

The bulk of my tape collection comes from the 1990s, most notably from what has been described as probably the best radio station that has ever existed, the BBC station for London, GLR (Greater London Radio). So many current radio (and TV) presenters began their careers on that station, or at least spent a formative part of their career there. Notable GLR alumni include Fi Glover, Gideon Coe, Chris Evans, Danny Baker, Robert Elms, Peter Curran, Johnnie Walker, Bob Harris, Janice Long, Charles Carroll, Shaun Ley, Emma Freud … In fact, whenever someone turns up on radio, or TV, and I inform anyone in the room with me that this person used to be on GLR, I usually now have objects thrown at me.

But what’s important is that I have kept all my tapes for all these years in the hope that one day they might be of interest to someone else.

GLR was replaced in 2000 by what is now BBC London 94.9 after which the amount of my taping was vastly reduced. And it came to a complete halt just a few years later when the cassette recorer/player section of my stereo system gave up the ghost.

Since then, other methods of listening to the radio on time-delay have been devised and I am very grateful for BBC’s iPlayer in particular.

So here I am at home with almost 300 tapes, any of which might contain some fascinating gem of radio broadcasting. My labelling wasn’t all that diligent. And as for dates and times, well, it jyust never occurred to me to jot such things down. The tapes were re-used, so any tape might have sections of several generations of recordings.

300 tapes is a lot of shelf space, so it came to the time to clear out. But what if there was something there worth keeping? The question was answered by what has turned out to by a favourite birthday gift. Its an Ion Tape2PC device. It plays cassettes and the sound can be saved on a PC in MP3 format. Perfect. But the tapes have to be played and copied in real time. So over a period of well over two years, I played a tape each day, noting its contents in what is the biggest Word document I’ve ever created.

At the same time, I tried to contact the BBC Archive departmet to see if they were interested in these tapes. I thought they might even want the old Capital Radio ones. But I could not find a contact address. I still didn’t have my shelf space back, and I didn’t want to just throw the tapes away.

So imagine my delight when just a few short days ago I saw this:

BBC – Media Centre – BBC Radio announces The Listeners’ Archive.

Yes, the BBC want MY old tapes. Bring them along on October 11th to one of the following venues… ah, London’s not listed. Elation to deflation in a second. So near yet so far. Anyway, I sent an email with a pretty full description of what I had to offer and heard nothing.

Until 4pm the day before.In which I was invited to take the BBC tapes to Western House in London. So that’s exactly what I did. I had a bag of just under 100 tapes, and I can tell you, that’s a heavy load.

I delivered to Western House into the safe hands of a young lady who may have been Sophie (I should have asked) .

So what a result!

I was feeling pretty good until I read this on Twitter:

Jon Holmes @jonholmes1
2/2 … There’s an amnesty table in reception where an old man has just handed in this GOLD @gidcoe

Old man?? Well that just made my day…

What tapes do I have left: Capital Radio, several are albums that I recorded to listen to on my old Walkman and a few odd ones from odd radio stations.