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....


+ BBC is 'worst employer of all time', says Radio 2's Paul Gambaccini



  1. Yes Radio 2 are certainly out of touch with listeners, all 15 milion of them.

    How about spending less time whingeing about how the BBC spends the license fee (which living in Portugual you pay for of course!) and more time focusing on that toy radio station of yours?

    1. Robin, I have left your comment on about my 'toy radio station' because I believe from your website you suffer from Asperger syndrome*. But I will point out that you regularly make negative/personal comments about my posts on other sites - on one I had to BLOCK you. Your condition does not mean you cannot formulate a proper argument; why not do that rather than just acting like a troll, throwing around childish insults? *"a form of Autism. Like other Autistic people, people with Asperger syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people"

  2. Len, I don't "suffer" from Asperger's Syndrome. I live with it. And I am happy with it.

    It's ignorance like that, that makes it very difficult for this blog to be taken seriously, as many other far more professional people than I am, currently working in radio will concur.

  3. Aspergers: I was quoting from your Blog.

    I think "ignorance" is better defined as someone who uses childish insults like 'toy radio station'.

    Solid Gold GEM AM is amazing when you think it costs £4500 a year to run as opposed to Radio 2's FIFTY MILLION, that is extracted from non-listeners by legal threats! Also our 18 dj's KNOW and LOVE music - unlike the 'dolly birds' and grade 3 tv personalities on Radio 2

    If you can't use REASON in your arguments, please don't comment on this BLog or anywhere else I post....

  4. Hello Len,

    Like you I was surprised at there being so many schedule changes in a single daytime line-up and had been pondering whether it really is an issue, in the way that commercial radio had always considered it to be.

    I wondered if any of the press had picked up on the fact that so much was different in one daytime. A quick Google search for other views on the subject, and also on the rather momentous all female sequence the event generated, brought me to your blog.

    Well I hoped to read something relatable, but also informative peppered with insight or research, given that you are clearly a radio practitioner. Instead all I discovered is that you have a huge issue with the gender of presenters, their nationality (despite their knowledge base) and that even if you didn't, you would find Radio 2 unlistenable anyway due to the music (not a minor point). Basically, it seems that you don't like Radio 2, its presenters or, quite possibly, modern radio in general.

    Now I have, myself, moaned about Radio 2's penchant for TV presenters and have posted squirm-making bloops from a few of them. I do agree that often the experienced radio DJs fit in better and sound slicker (especially to other radio people). I should be 'on your side' here - cheering for your corner. But in this case you clearly don't like anything the station does and that just suggests you're in the wrong in the place. But that's ok - that doesn't make or break justification for the licence fee. The old "it's all for you" slogan wasn't actually a personal message to you!

    I did read through your points and as I ploughed through I fully expected some analytical or statistic-packed passage to jump out at me, but sadly no. In order to support your views about the hell of it all, you quoted someone who once worked in an administrative role in radio in the last century and who says it wouldn't have been acceptable for a different type of station to do this in the days of a different regulatory body which has *long* gone. That really isn't of any relevance in 2016.

    Now, I see you are running a station which celebrates oldies & probably sounds like 'radio of the time' too, and that's a great idea, but there's room for all players, all formats, all approaches, all listeners. Plenty of internet for all.

    While R2 has millions of listeners and you don't, why waste energy in suggesting they are completely misguided, instead of positively promoting everything you stand for and saying 'here it is! this is how it should be!' on your own station?

    If your station does cost £4500 a year to run and has 18 DJs, they're clearly all/mostly volunteering. Presumably no networking of transmitters, no national distribution costs, national scale music licenses, live concerts, paid team of producers, office/admin/engineering overheads to speak of etc so I'm not really sure why it's even costing you that much. Is there a sizeable jingle budget, maybe?

    Quite simply, if your station is amazing just prove it & keep telling people (in the right places).



    1. Drew: many thanks for your thoughtful comments and observations - I appreciate you taking time to write.

      As regards "a huge issue with the gender of presenters" I have an 'issue' with any station that puts the image of the presenter before their musical knowledge, and in its (pc) haste to 'gender-balance' Radio 2 is doing women a disservice as there are far better broadcasters then the 'personalities' they use.

      As far back as the 1980 I actually searched for good female broadcasters but 95% of the audition tapes that came into my station were from men. I did recruit, guide, train the careers of 5 excellent women who went on to have successful careers in ILR and BBC.

      "you find Radio 2 unlistenable anyway due to the music"

      That's my KEY point - it's the ONLY BBC service playing music for 40+ (BBC local is 100% speech for a lot of the day) How CAN they justify this given everyone has to pay the licence - during the DAY they HAVE to serve people 40 to 80!

      I did not give any 'analytical' or 'statistical' background as unlike the consultants, researchers, radio 'gurus' and 'futurologists' who have controlled radio for the last 20 year, I believe GOOD radio is not hard to get right if you use imagination, instinctive knowledge about the audience, and warm-voiced presenters who LOVE music (who may not be 'visual' in any way!)

      The idea of a camera in a radio studio is quite honestly STUPID - radio is a one-to-one medium. Compare today's 'crews' in their brightly lit 'made for television' studios, to the great broadcasters of the 70s and 80s who often ensured they were ALONE in their dowdy dimly lit studio, and had a minimal amount of production assistance.

      Draw up a list of GREAT radio names who lasted for DECADES and compare it to the rapid turn-over we now see on 'has been' stations like Radio 1 where the turn-over of 'modern dj's is very large... it's about fashion/youth, not the music. And if Radio 1 WERE doing its job properly rather than pandering to London-based music pluggers and the 'buzz' bands of this year it would not have lost the MILLIONS of listeners who give Radio 2 an artificially inflated audience?

      And as I said, one of the team at Radio 2 is a woman who lost over a million listeners on Radio 1, so WHY is she there? The answer, because the 'suits' at Radio 2 always stick by every decision they make, never admit they are wrong and cannot be challenged... and that's why even with fast-falling ratings the BBC persist with Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 breakfast.

      I think a lone blog about all this, is only fair to balance the massive, wasteful financial giant, fuelled by public money, that is the BBC

  5. Radio 2 is the UK's most listened to radio station and isn't worthy of your critique. With so little listeners tuning in to your show, I think the person out of touch with listeners is Len Groat.

  6. Radio 2 is UK's most EXPENSIVE radio station.... it can hardly fail.

    My point is not about volume of listenership, but the FACT there is no UK-wide station for MATURE listeners who don't enjoy Sarah Cox's YAP.

    Radio 2 has extreme gender-balance policies, plus it DOES waste MILLIONS of pounds on non-radio staff!

  7. Pick of the Pops is Tony Blackburn...simplesk!Bring him back!

  8. Even for all Tony's cheese he's far far better than Gambo.