Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Radio - the train is leaving the 'platform' ~ an anniversary blog

You know you LOVE radio ....... when you hang on to 'Selector Music Logs' from your station for 28 years! 

Of all the ILR stations I worked on it is the most fondly remembered one. I ran it from 1988 to 1994, great years for UK radio, finally free of many IBA/Radio Authority rules about 'meaningful speech', and 'needle time'. And we could finally have jingles from JAM Creative Productions of Dallas, so 15 years after ILR began we were at last on an equal footing with BBC Radio's 1 and 2 as regards our on-air identification (read 'imaging' or 'sonic logos' if you are under 35)

I was Head of Music & Programmes for GEM-AM right from the start - I had a SUPERB on-air team, did the (annoyingly catchy) jingles, and even named the station - a great privilege.

We re-invented the philosophy of the original station with our internet station Solid Gold GEM AM launched 5 December 2012. And by 'we' I mean a team with over 300 years total experience in radio!

One of the KEY people who makes our internet station 'tick' (digitally speaking) is Andy Marriott ('Marrow' to his listeners) and it is HIS music log above from 1988.

We launched the original GEM-AM on 4 October 1988 and the team we had then are now renowned as stalwarts of UK radio - the launch OB involved an Olympic runner and was commentated on by David (Radio Moments) Lloyd, the legendary (even then) John Peters was on breakfast, in the daytime we had Tony Lyman (now with nearly 40 years in UK radio under his belt), the late, much-missed Brian Tansley, and Anne Marie (Minhall), now a key part of the sound of Classic FM.

Anne Marie in 1988

Other 'young' names on GEM-AM in the early years were Graham Wright and Paul Robey (now on BBC Local Radio), indeed Graham is STILL with us on Solid Gold GEM AM along with other GEM 'originals' Paul Burbank, Jenni Costello, and Tim Rogers.  And of course, Andy Marriott - he was on afternoons and the Saturday early show which he STILL does now for us weekdays 6-8am and Sundays 6-9am ! 

'Marrow' - Andy Marriott in 1988

The concept of the original GEM-AM lives on now on www.solidgoldgem.amWe have a total of 18 DJ's which is about 15 more than the so-called UK 'Gold' station which now just churns out endless songs, unannounced for most of the day, in the dreariest radio format I've ever heard. 

So I'm delighted we are still able to bring you a 'Gold' station with 6 of the original GEM team + 12 other talented DJ's who ALL 'Love the Oldies', of which we have a library of EIGHT THOUSAND!

We are only a small station, (all our DJ's volunteer their services), finances make it impossible for us to 'grow'. But as well as being there for our listeners we hope we make some more open-minded young DJ's, radio consultants, and 'radio gurus' realise there IS more to radio than microscopic playlists, jaded TV 'personalities' trying to DJ, and 'sonic logos'

Most importantly, they need reminding that RADIO is primarily about people with 'radio voices'** ! 

Today's radio is awash with 'yoof' orientated stations, dj's who drop their 'n's', accents so thick they are hard to understand, (remember communication?)

There is a HUGE hole in the UK radio market: commercial radio is drowning in 'suits', research, overseas owners and consultants. And the multi-layered BBC management with its over PC, gender-balance philosophy is light years away from the radio Sir Terry Wogan** created ~ which was adored by his fervent listeners. 

Despite endless cross-promotion and getting its breakfast DJ on TV shows, and dwindling listeners, the 'suits' at BBC Radio 1 persist after each ratings survey with the 'we are popular on other platforms" excuse. 

I have news for you .. the train has left the station.

And FIFTY MILLION pounds a year to run BBC Radio 2 ? !

How much longer will (now) better-informed licence-payers put up with all this? And 'yes' those 'TV detector vans' never worked - they lied !

Judging by Twitter (a 'yoof platform' that all the BBC Locals seem to use endlessly as their much older audience shrinks) that BBC licence fee 'gravy train'.... is also leaving the station....

As we look forward to celebrating Solid Gold GEM AM's 4th anniversary on 5 November, I may be dismissed as a 'radio dinosaur' by those early-retired 'suits' with their millions of pounds worth of radio station shares, or on huge BBC pensions ~ taken early of course!  But read what is below, which I wish I'd said. 

If you don't know who said it you should not be in radio ~ if YOU need to gulp as you read it, YOU are one of the guilty ones....

"The proliferation of radio stations has led to a tremendous lowering of standards. The people are beginning to sound like blancmange. If what you are being paid for is to introduce a record programme you must give it something more than the hip phraseology ...a request....banality. If you are being paid to produce a record programme you must give it: yourself."

Friday, June 3, 2016

Will Sarah Cox or Fearne Cotton take over 'Pick of the Pops' ?

Of course to titillate and catch your attention I was looking into the future (gender-balanced of course ) with the blog title - it's just to lead you to a more serious blog... 

Yesterday, one of our secretaries at Radio Trent/GEM AM in the 80s and 90s indignantly posted this on Facebook: 

"Incredulously Radio 2 has only one presenter out of eight on their regular slots today. What's so special ... it's half term! Mayo doesn't start till 5pm for goodness sake!! In Commercial radio we'd have been crucified by Radio Authority if we'd tried to do similar! Even the news and sports presenters are off Breakfast which makes a mockery of the opening jingle. Perhaps it really is time to switch over.."

Although it was years since Debbie worked in radio she has a better idea of radio programming than those over-paid 'suits' at BBC Radio.  Apart from Jeremy Vine and few others, I find it unlistenable both in terms of the music choice, and the 'dj's' they use, but as Deb's pointed out, it was the WORST ever..

The line-up included: Nicki Chapman (from some house-buying TV show) Zoe Ball (was a kind of dj in Radio One now does glossy TV  shows) Kate Humble (who?) in for Steve Wright (and merely a 'TV  presenter') and to add cost to injury they put on two people, so actor (and TV  star) Charles Dance joined her!  And with Sarah (I lost 1 million listeners on Radio 1) Cox on breakfast and Vanessa Feltz on Jeremy Vine's show it was clearly nothing to do with giving us the best person to cover the shows, merely more of the BBC's increasingly tiring gender-balance nonsense. 

Someone needs to tell the BBC 'suits' that gender-balance will ONLY work if you put women on who can communicate, have good voices, and KNOW about the music they play!

BBC 'suits' seem to think that just because someone is on TV, or has sold a few records 15-35 years ago it makes them worthy to broadcast on a National radio station. but most importantly all this is why BBC Radio 2 costs the licence payer 


Add-up the costs of those TV people who cannot 'self-op', so need more producers and engineers (+ the BBC are paying their agent's fees as well) and I'd guess that over a year that costs about 85% more than employing ONE 'relief presenter' to cover ALL holidays as I used to do on my stations in the 80s and 90s. 

Weekdays between 5am and 7pm there are 6 shows, so if each presenter takes 6 weeks holiday a year (or time off to do more TV/ launch their books..) that is 36 weeks show cover needed a year, in other words it can be one ONE job, and be (say) Alex Lester, a 'proper' broadcaster relegated to the graveyard shift on Radio 2 at present as these TV folks 'play' at being dj's....

Take a deep breath.. there is more....

As if this on-air debacle was not enough we found out this week that Tony Blackburn is being replaced on 'Pick of the Pops' by Paul Gambacinni. So they are getting rid of their BEST KNOWN on-air personality, and to add insult to injury, putting an American on the run-down of 2 old BRITISH charts (did the 'suits' not realise?)

Did Gambo go crawling in to get this show? No! Quite the opposite - he was 'told' he had to do it*, and bless him, for in return doing a very long podcast with Trevor Dann in which he lifted the lid on all kinds of unsavoury BBC management attitudes. For radio trade 'news' aimed at the business, it also very quickly made the national press+.

It's a long podcast but I recommend you listen to it* all; if you don't have time, here are some choice 'cuts':

(This week's Crucifying Countdown!)

No.5 "Sometimes I walk in to do a program me at Radio 2 and I see someone sitting-in for someone, and I feel as if someone has walked-in off the street, as I don't recognise this person"

No. 4 "The chasm between talent and management has never been as wide or as deep as it has under the current management. Another of the great chasms is high culture versus populism, you have Tony 'Royal Opera House' Hall versus Tony 'Top 40' Blackburn.

No 3 "We at Radio 2 know that the current management of the BBC dismiss us."

No.2 "Poor Tony Blackburn is universally regarded at radio level as a scape-goat - it was a brilliant (BBC) manoeuvre as all the press attention of Dame Janet's report was on Tony"

And... Britun's Numbur Wuuunnn!"

"The BBC is not a team effort anymore"

Oh, bubbling under..... is 'news' just in - on the same day the BBC announced that Fearne Cotton is to sit in on Graham Norton's show over the summer and to add more cost to the show she has an 80s pop start doing it with her. 

Does it count as gender-balance if a man is on the show as well :-)  ?

Cotton is EIGHTEEN years younger than Norton, only 35, and will be unfamiliar to mature listeners as she was on Radio 1 until LAST YEAR - playing music Radio 2 listeners would definitely not have enjoyed. 

If she did Radio 1 because she loved the music, she must have dramatically changed her music tastes in 12 months....

Cotton is remembered by adults for her appearance in the BBC tv coverage of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant++ 

How on earth do the BBC 'suits' think she will be 'right' to fit-in on a major weekend show for a MATURE audience on a national station? And it's not just 'radio people' who are noting this, some listeners are VERY musically aware as witnessed by many comments on the Gambacinni podcast such a from:

Dave Crane: "sadly the 80s stuff that Sara Cox plays are the "obvious" hits and nothing much else - if only it was done in a more informed and in depth way like the Sounds of the 60s show was done, then it could be brilliant - well at least for the music! I feel that Radio 2 should not forget 50s, 60s and 70s music either. What does sicken me about the current output of Radio 2, are the constant bombardment with ADVERTS (promos for other shows) - which totally disrupt the flow of every programme - and are also too long and repetitive. The music output is also very repetitive - always playing the obvious oldies, and overplaying modern stuff on the PLAY list. Then there's so many rubbish TV presenters playing at radio - and hardly any DJs who know and love the music the play.  I know what I want to hear on Radio 2 - and they're just not doing it!"

When listeners get THAT aware, and animated in their feelings you know a radio station is NOT getting it right for them.

Lastly..... ask yourself WHY Radio 2 have not taken on Simon Bates to do 'Pick of the Pops'

  • He works on a BBC local station so could voice it from that studio rather than travelling to London
  • He has a GREAT voice and is still well-known from his Radio 1/ Classic FM days
  • He was HUGE on Radio 1 and played songs from the later charts when they  were new!

Surely it can't be that someone at the BBC still holds a grudge from his Radio 1 days?

So...... with all respect to Paul Gambaccini, who is a great factual broadcaster, I ask the BBC 'suits' WHY is Simon Bates, a 'proper' dj  not taking over "Pick of the Pops"?

If all else fails, maybe it will be Cox or Cotton on it, sooner than you might imagine?

The 'suits' who control Radio 2, seem to be steering it younger and younger; if it continues there will be NO national station for mature listeners! 

They push gender-balance to extremes, waste MILLIONS of pounds on non-radio staff, are completely out of touch with listeners, and leading gilded-lives in London fuelled by the licence-fee funded BBC gravy train....

* http://radiotoday.co.uk/2016/06/gambaccini-blasts-bbc-bosses-before-new-radio-2-show/

+ BBC is 'worst employer of all time', says Radio 2's Paul Gambaccini http://gu.com/p/4k5g7/stw

++ http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/jun/08/fearne-cotton-bbc-jubilee

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Radio 2 'Comedy' ? Pull the other one!

I was gob-smacked to read this story (link below) on Radio Today, not the least because it's an amazing waste of the BBC licence fee on content just to keep unnecessary managers busy at the same time as important shows are given to outside companies!


It helps explain why BBC Radio 2 costs FIFTY MILLION POUNDS a year

I agree with the comments made by Bertha - it spends money on 'comedy' but does not do over nights LIVE,  ignoring the needs of a huge number of overnight workers who also deserve good MUSIC radio that RELATES to them by reacting with them.

I also pick up on Lewis Carnies comment "seeing the sitcom Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop go on to become the highly acclaimed Miranda series on BBC One". 

Does ANYONE know someone who actually think Miranda was EVER funny? All she did was keep falling over (try that on radio) At best it was embarrassing! 

The fact is if the BBC made redundant Julia McKenzie "Acting Head of BBC Radio Comedy" and Lewis Carnie "Head of Programmes for BBC Radio 2" absolutely no one would NOTICE any change on air - and they would save 100s of thousands.

These people are completely unnecessary on what is MEANT to be a MUSIC station serving people 40+. 

Meanwhile the shows that MATTER, and are meant to serve the MASS market, are farmed-out to outside production companies - Chris Evans - at HUGE expense. 

Worse still 'gender balance' broadcasters such as Sara Cox and Vanessa Feltz occupy slots (or cover breakfast) that far exceed their broadcasting skills or public popularity. 

I find it amazing that Cox who lost a million listeners when she had the Radio 1 breakfast show is now put on Radio 2 breakfast relief .... 

......that is DEFINITELY not funny.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

27 years on, are we the ONLY proper UK 'Oldies' station?

OR (alternate title !) 

"WHY does BBC Radio 2 cost 50 million a year but Solid Gold GEM AM only £4500?"

Twenty seven years ago on the 4th October 1988 the original GEM-AM launched, covering Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire on 3 crackly (but thumping) medium wave transmitters. Indeed, the 945khz was so strong it reached a great deal further, even Liverpool and north London! That was one reason that the station soon achieved a somewhat legendary status in 'radio circles' and in our area a listener response today's 'oldies' stations can now only dream of - 23% and 24% in Notts and Derby. The success was also because it was the first 24 hour 'gold' service in the UK, and was staffed with 'real' dj's who had been inspired by 'pirate radio' and the legendary 'UBN' radio.

I was in a privileged position in that I'd been Head of Programmes and Music for Trent FM for 9 years by 1988 and MD Ron Coles and Programme Controller Chris Hughes were both ex-BBC so decided to 'leave me to it'. I ended up with a VERY 'fun' job many others would have loved. Picking the team was easy - John Peters got the breakfast show as he'd been THE voice of Radio Trent since 1975 having done breakfast more than anyone else for the station.  Other Trent stalwarts Tony Lyman, Andy Marriott and Brian Tansley moved from FM to glorious AM, we had 'Radio 2 style' team members Colin Bower and Viv Evans at night, plus the distinctive tones of Anne Marie Minhall, Tim Rogers was our 'country man', and later Paul Robey, Graham Wright, Craig Strong, and others too numerous to mention.

For the first time I found myself running a station I did not broadcast on, and sat in my office with my Amstrad 'personal computer' (I had bought for myself!) I was somewhat envious of those using what was called 'Master Control' with its view into Trent's famous Studio 'A'. A competitive teamwork developed studio-to-studio - the legendary John Peters on AM with (the eventually legendary) Gary Burton on FM.

Ironically GEM, a station full of Oldies, was launched at the same time as Denon CD players appeared, usurping scratchy 45s so the quality was great and the music was rotated by the (then) new Selector system, which produced daily printed logs. So rather than rehearsing for a show on the new station I had caught the (vastly over-priced) train to London to be taught Selector by the indomitable Angela bond, who had been Kenny Everitt's producer at BBC Radio 1.   I recall it took 8 HOURS to download the 'information' files on to our system - not sound files, just INFO - gosh computers were tiny back then!

Me with Dallas singers in '88. Jackie Dickson (left) was
PAMS and JAM lead singer for much of the 60s and 70s 
One key thing happened in 1988. After years of the Musician's Union blocking the use of American jingles, negotiations by Alfasound's Steve England and others meant I was able to 'jet' to Dallas where I was 'happy' to watch classic 60s PAMS jingles from 'Jet Set' and 'Happiness is' sung by a team of 100% professional jingle singers, 4 of whom had sung on the original jingles. Both the pirate 'Big L' and Radio's 1 and 2 had used PAMS and I'd used edited versions of their jingles on University radio in the 60s so I was in 'radio heaven' - the fact I did not have a show on the station was made up for by the 'Dallas experience'.

We launched on 4 October 1988 with an Olympic stunt of a runner making the journey between our 3 areas and arriving in Nottingham as firework sound effects were played. David Lloyd (already the boss of Leicester Sound by 1988) screamed himself hoarse introducing the first show with John Peters. Luckily, it was not long before someone needed their show covering and I headed down to the re-furbished studio and had GREAT fun being a deejay, knowing that afterwards I could retreat to the security of my staff 'job' in my third floor office with its coffee machine, plants, walls full of pictures of 'old' Trent and second-hand seating from the original station reception! (I had no idea at that stage that within 10 years the 'suits', money men, and consultants of commercial radio would start to get rid of the contracted talent that gave each station a unique sound and made the 'magic' happen...)

And so the 'golden years' of GEM-AM began. Our music library grew to over 4000 songs (yes 4000 'Gold'!), and Paul Robey became 'Robin to my Batman' spending hours coding and polishing the library so we had music flow and variety. New voices appeared on GEM including the wonderful Irish brogue of Krissi Carpenter, Paul Burbank, Steve Voce and others who will forgive me for not turning this into a long list!?

Every year until 1993 we had yet more jingles and I was delighted that we were able to now buy JAM Creative Productions jingles. As I wrote the lyrics I was fortunate to be the one who flew to Dallas every year to supervise, though in truth I mainly sat in awe in the booth as the amazing team and singers made lightning strike with every cut! 

There was a string of great events in the years 1988 to 1993: full OB's from local towns and the East coast, GEM-AM dances in the area, sticker-drives supervised by the amazing Penny from promotions. We even persuaded Jon Wolfert the head of our jingle company to 'jet-in' for an interview and to do an hours show playing oldies and the jingles he wrote and produced! 

Krissi Carpenter quickly became one of the team the audience related to and I recruited Jenni Costello for Trent FM so we pioneered what is today called 'gender balance' by the BBC. But operating the complex panel and split commercial CARTS was 100% manual work and I'd be interested to see the likes of today's female radio 'stars' (who get in to radio from television work) attempt it! Of course in later years the digital DAMS (well named!) advert playout system appeared and made it easier to 'split' adverts.  

By 1991 we had 'lost' the weakest of our 3 areas, Leicester, as it only had 19% (!!) 'reach' - it became an Asian music station.

The Golden years of GEM-AM started to fade when the station (and Trent) were bought by Capital Radio in 1993 (no changes to be made for a year/
zero jingle budget) only for us to find at the (nail-biting) end of the year that we had been sold to the 'Wiltshire/Bristol folk' of GWR. Anyone interested will know that was the start of a decline that has never ended. Some members of  the team attempted to 'keep the magic' going, but I exited before the Australian consultants moved-in and I started a new life as a writer on Art Deco ceramics. But GEM's loyal listeners noticed the inevitable changes, all in the name of 'profit margins' not quality of output - something I'd never have wanted to oversee, and the local newspapers picked up on the story. 

Some of the team on both AM and FM left for other stations and GEM had several name changes, was merged into 'Classic Gold' then 'Gold'. By the turn of the century it was down to 7% reach, which was poor compared to the original GEM-AM 23/24% reach. Now, with automation, it has just one show with a dj each day  and the rest is continuous music, so it struggles to get above 2%.....

But there was to a 'golden' light at the end of the (time) tunnel, as some unrelated events in 2012 brought together people who wanted to re-create the original GEM-AM, and with modern technology 'honed' by 2 of our team (thanks Marrow and Sid) we realised we COULD run a station reliably on a very small budget!  I played an easier part as I just had to learn how to use it all + re-licence the original jingles plus order more classic re-sings for our 'Radio Like It Used To Be' strapline. By this time even 
David Lloyd (who did the GEM launch OB) managed Orion's "GEM106" (amongst others) and they kindly played a part in 'massaging' the station into 'life'.

The impetus the station had, from its roots in the original GEM made it a reality, and we are now able to celebrate our third anniversary just a month after the 27th anniversary of the launch of the original station. 

Fortunately a LOT of people who just LOVE radio (and 'Love the Oldies') give their services for free, and Jon at JAM is still doing what he's always done brilliantly, making our station jingles. 

JAM Creative Productions supremeo Jon Wolfert in the GEM studio in 1992

So with 8000 songs (FOUR THOUSAND more than the original station) and 18 deejays, we are here to stay.   The only thing missing..... is the ADVERTS (thank goodness)  as we are commercial-free thank to our team and kind donors.

And our team? Well, we have from the original GEM, Andy Marriott, Paul Burbank, Jenni Costello, Tim Rogers, Graham Wright, but sadly we lost the late Brian Tansley who was with us in 2012. Then there are other talented broadcasters from the ILR/BBC years: Andy Siddell, Jeff Owen, Allen Fleckney, Geoff Dorset, Ron Brown, Brian Savin, who worked on a long list of stations including BBC Radio 2, Country Sound Gold, Radio Aire, BBC Radio Nottingham, Radio Merseyside, Pirate FM, Saga Radio, BRMB, BBC World Service, Beacon Radio... and yet more more talented new deejays who are learning their craft with us for the first time.

So as we approach our third anniversary, what of the future? Well with the British Radio system being in disarray, and so-called 'local'  stations taking 90% of their output from London, I do believe Internet Radio is KEY to radio's future.

We will never get those audiences of the 1980s and early 90s again, but our pleasure is in being part of a station that provides a service for over 50s of music from 1958 to 1982 that NO other UK station caters for. 

But I'm not writing just to celebrate the original GEM. I have to ask, "why is it that 27 years later we are the ONLY proper UK 'oldies' station"? Despite its annual cost of FIFTY MILLION pounds BBC Radio 2 only caters for under 45s in daytime output and for much of the day play less than 8 songs an hour. As for commercial radio just TWO large groups control 75% of what what is offered to the UK! Even though there are now several stations in every area of the county they have extremely limited playlists of music. The only one attempting to be an 'oldies' station only covers the country in patches and has just ONE dj on weekdays! 

Surely the UK listeners deserve more variety and choice in their radio, and it should not be left to a service with no real budget to cater for over 50s? We do that as we contribute our time and passion..... 

HOW did the government and the radio regulator Ofcom allow this appalling situation to come come about?

Tony Blackburn proves that the GREAT radio dj's never hang-up their headphones (though many radio 'suits' retire and ignore radio as soon as they have their millions) With 18 dj's on our 'golden team', Solid Gold GEM AM offers a free alternative to monopolistic UK radio. We cost our listeners nothing, and if a few of the newer radio dj's hear our output maybe we'll pass on some humanity and radio 'art' to them. For the sake of UK radio, I sincerely hope so. 

For now let me thank you on behalf of the TEAM at Solid Gold Gem AM. All they ask is that you tell your friends about us. We'll have a celebratory week from 5 November as we enter our fourth year!

Monday, August 10, 2015

I hate financial waste of the (legally enforced) BBC licence fee

A BBC Local Radio journalist accused me of 'hating' the BBC...

I don't...... I just hate financial waste of the (legally enforced) BBC licence fee. 

If you read the stories below, I wonder what word you would use to describe how it makes YOU feel ?!

BBC News Chief gets 

£24,000 pay rise

 (as hundreds of staffers

 are laid-off)

So she now earns £215,000 a year.....  This is a great deal more than she would earn in (self-funded) commercial tv and radio, which operate on much smaller budgets than the BBC's! 

WHY does the BBC pay so much?


Of course all this is comparatively unimportant compared to the crazy, awful PR disaster the BBC has had over *Alan Yentob's interview.  He is chairman of Batmanghelidj's organisation. 

The interview was about this kid's 'self-referral' organisation (let's face it, how may PARENTS would trust giving their kids money not knowing how they might spend it - so HOW could this organisation think that acceptable?) 

Watch the interview where Channel 4 lifted the lid on it:


Notice how he keeps telling the interviewer to 'wait a minute' ?

In The Telegraph on 8 August Patrick Sawer reported :

Paul Marshall, chairman of ARK Schools – a leading provider of academies – said the trustees appear to have failed in their duties. 
“The role of the trustees was obviously to make sure they had in place alongside Camila those types of management and that’s what central government was asking for. That was a fundamental failing of the trustees.”

"The trustee coming under particular pressure to explain what he did to ensure good governance at the charity is Alan Yentob. 

The BBC executive – who has been chair of trustees at Kids Company for 18 years – has been critical of his own organisation’s (BBC) handling of the story – even buttonholing BBC reporter Lucy Manning to criticise her coverage."
(my underlining)

Yentob earns £330,000 a year for his part-time role as 'Creative Director' at the BBC !

The BBC pay far too much to a few privileged
'luvvies' suits and journalists.
They could lose these staff
and keep the ones who do the work
and save a LOT!

How much longer are the Government going to tolerate these crazy high wages, and WASTE of a licence fee the public are forced to pay!?

If you agree, one way you can make YOUR opinion known is here:


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's time for David Holdsworth to resign

With the news that...

"David Holdsworth has announced a new direction for BBC local radio stations, with a focus on personalities and production" *

...a lot of questions need to be answered, and someone held to account for what is a failing/mainly dismal service, that lost its way in a mire of journalists, editors and manic, hasty, 'gender-balancing', under Holdsworth's 'watch'.

Why did it take this man so many YEARS to understand what everyone else in the business KNEW needed to be done!?

The speech breakfast shows should have been replaced with 'music and speech' ones years ago, and most of the 'editors' pensioned off. Having hastily trained  25 year olds doing a breakfast show aimed at 50-70 year olds is ridiculous.

As regards "We will be offering training with more emphasis on production and presentation skills"  that has never been in doubt. With public money the BBC over-trained, over-researched, and over 'gender-balanced'.  

But given that there is a huge staff mis-balance of non-musical/ personality-less  journalists on these failing stations HOW do they propose to give the 'personality' training and WHO with!? 

They don't have those skills.... and have no BUDGET to employ yet more people...

Will they get rid of the hastily-trained female breakfast 'presenters' only taken on last year (at Lord Tony's behest) to 'gender balance' the stations?

Will they get rid of the truly awful, lethargic, personality-less 'voice idents' made by McCasso?

Surely, having to make these changes goes against everything Holdsworth perpetrated

He oversaw  a failing, journalist-heavy regime. 

It's time for David Holdsworth to resign.


Update: a quote from my August 2013 blog:

To Tony Hall: 

I'd love to charge a large consultancy fee, but here is some free advice: the PROBLEM with BBC Local Radio breakfast shows is that :

  • They are run by NEWS side of the BBC
  • The presenters are often ex-University students
  • The presenters are too young to relate to the audience
  • The shows sound like a radio version of Blue Peter

Your solution is to employ former ILR presenters from each area, have a 80/20% mix of music/news, and pay for them by getting rid of a whole tier of Local Radio management, as 'guru' John Myers suggested in a report the BBC seem to have lost.

Look in your filing cabinets Tony!

* http://radiotoday.co.uk/2015/07/bbc-local-radio-to-reduce-news-programming/#comment-62034

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Carry On Radio 2..."

Finding myself with no radio station for a few weeks as Solid Gold GEM AM 'closed' I ventured onto my Roberts WiFi to seek both musical enjoyment and perhaps hear a few neat 'radio tricks' I could 'borrow' if I did get a new show.

Being a 'jingle anorak' of 50 years standing, naturally I 'tuned' to BBC Radio 2 with its 'award winning' jingles and 'amazing music' played by an 'amazing line-up'. The Welsh woman I heard last time I tuned in (who wanted to know if I was "enjoyin' lisnin'....'') was thankfully gone... But what I heard was not agreeable.....

  • a 10 minute sequence on breakfast with EIGHT over-lapping (yappy) voices, and just half of an 'amazing' song
  • a succession of 'modern' songs that were not 'amazing' but sounded like 1970s singles by Stealer's Wheel or Billy Ocean
  • some sort of hospital radio style request show presented by a less than  'amazing' woman who sounded like a jaded nurse
  • Radio One interrupted transmission several times; the ever-young (excellent) Jo Whiley kept appearing on promos or a whole show
  • a crossed landline with BBC Radio Blackburn meant for one breakfast show it REALLY needed sub-titles as a woman mumbled her way through
  • I can only presume a complete digital failure on the Ken Bruce show meant the system switched to auto and played a track by AC- DC
And those 'award winning' jingles? I only ever heard two in any 45 minutes. And a heavily produced traffic jingle which is always spoken all over except for the vocal.An acapella would have done and saved the licence payer £3000. And there is a thumpy news jingle + forgettable 'Steeler's Wheel' type dj namechecks. 

The legendary (truly 'amazing') Tony Blackburn, and Steve Wright, two of the few ACTUAL dj's on the station, have forsaken the 'award winning' jingles and gone to jingle companies in Dallas and New York - I wonder why?

Now, I can hear the 'usual (troll) suspects' typing away on Digital Spy instantly about how successful Radio 2 is. 

But why IS it?

With 85% of the UK's commercial stations only geared to cater for under 40s there are not many other places for 40+ to go. So BBC Radio 2 is actually the only horse in the now lame (radio) race.... 

BBC Local radio does speech breakfast, with some (hurriedly trained) young women, and rather older men holding it together. And with NO music on Beeb local breakfast, the Bauer and Global stations can breathe a sigh of relief that 'Chantelle and Dwayne at breakfast' will get a passable audience - but if they don't the afternoon team 'Angelina and Riley'  can be swiftly moved to breakfast as 'Chantelle and Dwayne' are despatched to the dole office without murmuring a word...

With no choice other than to revert to Radio 2, it's carrying BBC Radio Walford with Peggy Mitchell's 'Golden Hour', what sounds like an old aircheck of Terry Wogan from 1984 - but minus the great JAM jingles, and BBC Radio Blackburn firmly control late Saturday nights.

Bob Shennan seems to have forgotten that radio is a one-to-one medium, and non-radio people shouting or mumbling over each other (in less than 'radio voices' or thick accents) does not make an 'amazing line-up'. Playing music by 'undiscovered' and 'un-signed' bands often leads to unlistenable music. And a string quartet led, re-work of 'Pictures of matchstick men' I heard FIVE times in 3 days is nothing like 'amazing music'.

Of course listening to Radio 2 I also could not avoid the 'first ever BBC Music Awards'. 

In an industry that already has far too many awards and not enough new talent to award them to, this really is superfluous. As if to prove my point the grossly over-glossy event actually gives just THREE awards! Its core aim seems to be to have the giant Radio 2 support its ailing 'cousin station' Radio 1. Forget choice - the event was carried on both stations simultaneously - a note from Global's (very small) book of 'how to do radio' perhaps? 

The BBC Music Awards was a tv/radio concoction that cost a fortune at a time the BBC has been asked repeatedly to use its (publicly funded) budget more wisely.

It consisted of over-played, worn-out songs by artists who either spent too much (or for one too little) time at their hair stylists, and endless cliches from the 'stars' and uneasy mix of presenters, a middle-aged man, and a woman wearing a dress that frankly looked rude - not quite the Radio 2 audience.

All the BBC Music Awards told us about today's radio and music business is that there is very little 'amazing music' and it's heavily over-played. The fact Radio's 2 and 1 were linked for this suggests we really do not need Radio 1 any more, as Radio 2 and the other higher-numbered BBC music stations, have stolen much of its ground.

I caught some of the Radio 2 breakfast today and yes it played the same number of songs in half an hour as the number of awards at the event last night - THREE. 

I think it's time for the BBC Speech Awards.  Radio 2 breakfast and all those local speech breakfast shows could hold an 'amazin' glossy night, and simulcast it on tv... blow the expense!


Postscript: *  The Guardian's report showed it was not well-received by the audience