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Author Topic:  What makes local radio tick? It's more than just a box-ticking exercise!  (Read 25736 times)

Northoftheborder

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Hiya everyone. I'm hoping to make this new thread appeal - to as wide a cross-section as possible! Does that remind you of anything? In the event that you ever query the music content (of your local station) you will most likely be told something similar. But I don't just want to discuss music, as there's so much more to BBC local radio than that, isn't there? Well, there should be...

...but "Delivering Quality First" looks like it's had an adverse affect, on some of our cherished local favourites. Before I go on, it's always worth considering that some change will always be inevitable, as - realistically - no one would wish to be listening to all the shows BBC local radio delivered us 10-15 years ago, would they? And they say you can't make an omelette, without breaking eggs, don't they?

Sadly though, one of my local stations now brings in most of the eggs from outside. This means most of the local flavour has now vanished. Another unwelcome change is with the contents used. We used to be allowed to send in our own recipes, but somehow this was gradually taken away. Well more or less I'm afraid, so the rich variety we used to enjoy has now been replaced by bland, uniform fare.

Just to remind you, I'm not thinking solely about music, you know? It's fair to expect the chief ingredient of most local radio to be speech, isn't it? Particularly during the week - and especially so, at breakfast and during Drivetime. But our weekend programming used to be so entertaining, with clever, inventive quizzes accompanying diverse, but accessible music - that you'd struggle to find anywhere else.

Maybe that's plenty to consume just now, as I wouldn't want anyone ending up with indigestion, would I? Unfortunately the amount of change - within some local radio - has been less than palatable, and the manner in which it has been brought about can leave a sour aftertaste lingering. When you've digested what I've had to say, maybe you'd like to bring your own thoughts to the table though. Unlike certain stations, I've no problems - whatsoever - if you'd like to be part of it...


Rita

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Hello Northoftheborder,

Can you just clarify if you want comment from the listeners of all local radio stations?

The only thing I can say about week end programming at my station, is that some programmes are constantly cancelled  because of football coverage, and that can mean at least 5 or 6 hours on a Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday, although perhaps not quite as long on a Sunday.  For the people who enjoy certain presenters programmes which are only broadcast on those days it can be intensely irritating.  The Management say it hasn't the funding to "split" the  airwaves so that we all have a choice of what we listen to; however they can "split" for rugby league and will continue to  do so.  Unfortunately I live in an area where there are 2 Premiership Football Teams and some famous Rugby Lesgue teams and though Management say they are sympathetic they have to try to balance what  some listeners prefer in the way of sport and for those who wish to listen to other things.
I agree with your sentiments about presenters being brought in from outside the area - I struggle to know why that is, because I believe local radio should be local.  I am not happy when people are brought in from outside at the expense of the local talent we still retain.
I will give you an example about football.  One presenter who was supposedly standing in for 5 Sundays for someone who was on holiday, actually completed 2 of those shows - the rest  were cancelled for football.  To me, that is completely unacceptable.  It is obvious that is going to continue. 
Just now someone is doing some stand in  work on a Saturday lunchtime and, already, one of those shows has been cancelled and this will continue until the end of the football season.  Then we will have a little respite of 2 or 3 weeks, when the entertainment shows are lengthened for about 1 hour, because of the lack of sport - and then we are back to square one.
That's enough  from me for now, because I've been over this ground before.  I'll have a little think about the rest.
If I was a little cynical, I would wonder if my station is trying to get rid of these loyal presenters via the back door, hoping they will get tired of being messed around and finish of their own accord, which would be very sad I think.

Dennis Marshall

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As ever food for thought, as it were,  from my esteemed fellow listener. I trust she will not mind my adding the following 'ingredients' to her mix? The following words were heard around 6-05pm last night, on Radio Stoke:

"Still we're getting those comments in, on our Facebook page and on our texts as well.. ..in answer to my very simple question, just after four - so what's for tea, tonight"?

As a fortuitous alternative, Radio Two's Simon Mayo was serving up an interview with doyen of cookery, Mary Berry. During an informative conversation, we were reminded of the importance of always ensuring the freshest ingredients - and that variety truly is the spice of life.

I wonder perhaps, if that message is lost upon those who incessantly schedule a local radio diet with an unhealthy, repetitive menu of stodgy, reheated fare and stale music, well past its sell-by-date. With all due apologies to 'Northoftheborder', who started this thread, you understand.

Garstonboy

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Dear Rita,you need to move, on your constant "moaning" about football coverage is becoming boring,as is your Frankie and Roger "love in"
I do want more local presenters but Frankie Connor,Roger Lyon have had their day,let's get some new "local" presenters on the "airwaves"
If you want nostalgia suggest you tune into 7waves Johnny Kennedy every Sunday "bride of the week"

Rita

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I respect your opinion Garstonboy, but I don't agree with it.  There are more listeners other than me who don't like football and I think the Management should take all views into account.  Also I don't agree with you about the presenters I have  mentioned and again, there are others like me who appreciate Frankie and Roger's contribution.  No I won't be listening to Johnny Kennedy on 7waves.  I would respectfully suggest that I have a right to my opinion.
Perhaps you could enlighten me as to who are these new local presenters? Billy Maher would be classed as "nostalgic" as well.  I would hazard a guess that his listeners wouldn't be very pleased if he was removed from the airwaves and there are others of course who would fall into that category.

Garstonboy

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Rita,many thanks for your considered response.I think one of the problems with RM is the number of "older"presenters hanging on,there needs to be some "younger" blood coming in.There needs to be some strategy to bring in the younger listeners and not just leave it to "dead mans shoes" I heard a show by Snelly's producer jenni lee summers that was very good,I note that Asa Murphy is now presenting a show on a Southport based station he would have been a good choice.At least Sue Owen read out your "fraking letter"!

Northoftheborder

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Hiya Rita, ALL are welcome, you know? In fact - the more, the merrier! That's because I'd like everyone's opinions to appear here, because (as I see it) one or two of the local radio stations have begun to lose sight - of what I think the BBC like to call "core values".

Common sense should dictate everyone gets a fair say, don't you think? As our lovely forum runs pretty much along those lines, then why can't our own local station be equivalently fair? It's SO simple, really - it's called balance! We are all entitled to our own opinions - so why have some local radio services seen fit to remove many real aspects of audience participation?

You've contributed for long enough now, to have seen the benefits of a healthy, informed debate, surely? I can still remember being the "new girl" and it's so, so daunting! But we're all mates here, so we all respect each others' opinions, don't we? We may not always agree 100% - but at least this forum gives ALL participants a chance to air their thoughts - regardless of age, gender or location.

It's such a shame large parts of our local radio no longer adhere to such democratic principles. "Evolving" can only truly happen - if fair consultation takes place. When we've all shelled out a hefty annual licence fee, where's the return on our (not inconsiderable) investment?

Rita

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Yes Garstonboy,
Sue Owen did indeed read my e-mail out about "fracking". I didn't hear it myself, as I was out at the time, but a friend let me know last night.
I agree that some younger blood should be coming in to the station and there are a number of older presenters.
As far as bringing younger listeners in to the station.  I'm not an expert on this by any stretch of the imagination, but would younger people really want to stay at home and listen to the radio?  I know with all the new technology, there are various ways of listening, so they could be listening whilst out and about I suppose.
What I would say though is that there are numbers of people who are not able to get out because of age, illness or disability etc. and there are some who are lonely and who perhaps never have a visitor, which is very sad in this day and age.  They rely on the familiar voice and the feeling that the presenter is a companion in their home, especially if they are depressed, so I think a balance has to be struck between introducing new, young presenters whilst keeping the familiar ones as well and there are a lot of people who still enjoy the "style and professionalism" of Frankie and Roger - it's not only me - and I know that because I am in contact with some of them and they are unhappy about the continued cancelling of their programmes.
As I've said though, we are all entitled to our opinion and I do not want to enter into any conversation that leads to any bad feeling between listeners. 
I think it is very important, vital even, that we fight for our local services, because if Radio Merseyside weren't there and other local stations of course, it would be a very sad day for all of us I think.

Dennis Marshall

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Her analogy with cookery is indeed a subtle masterstroke by 'Northoftheborder'. Quite simply, if local radio blends its 'mix' together correctly, a pleasant yet consistent end result is attained. Although output such as this should appeal to the majority of the potential audience - if expertly done - another aspiration ought also to be achieved, as listenership who may not otherwise tune in are attracted. But they will not stay long, in the event of stumbling upon bland, unimaginative fare!

Another subtlty is the comment that Rita had an email read out by Sue Owen. If I understand that correctly, her station's Managing Editor has appeared on her own station - both encouraging (and reading out) feedback, via email. But in contrast, my station's Man. Ed. declines to appear on his own station - and seems not to encourage his staff to accept on-air emails.

To this observer, that demonstrates a basic lack of respect - for the very listeners who are paying towards the service (that they are no longer getting).

Rita

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Dennis,

Sue has a "Letters to the Editor" spot on the Phillips phone-in following the 1.00 p.m.news on a  Monday when she is available, as did her predecessor Mick Ord, but on a Friday at the same time.
I have also spoken to Sue on the 'phone once and she was very pleasant to deal with. I myself have never had any problem with either Editor as regards answering e-mails etc. I met Mick once as well and he also was pleasant to deal with.
This is what has made Tadio Merseyside the station that it is - because of the interaction - and that applies to,the presenters as well.  This is the reason it is so successful I believe.

Tiger

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This is an interesting thread.

But perhaps needs a bit of background information and detail, about exactly what is going wrong with BBC Stoke. I like creativity certainly with language, but I am struggling to see what the problem is? Without explanation. There are no specific complaints or evidence  that BBC local radio is tick boxing in Stoke?

Rita has,made some valid points. BBC local radio is charged with serving a senior demographic that is its public sevice duty. Therefore, the programs that she values at off peak hours hosted by Roger Lyons and Frankie are very important in that remit. I know that many will see that as holding back younger voices, but at the weekend it is right that the senior demographic is served. Also there is no getting away from the fact that the sports audience has to be served as well. Streaming is possibly an option or a splitting of the frequency.


There has been in the recent past a tick box exercise with BBC Local radio. There was Dave and Sue, and the playlist still represents Sue ,it is a commercially driven  repeated muzak and in my opinion damages the spoken content, because we will switch off after hearing the same flipping awful song time and time again.


Perhaps read this article about Dave and Sue.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1540151/Age-discrimination-is-rife-within-the-BBC-but-they-get-away-with-it.html


And DQF let us not forget was about cost cutting, nothing else.  BBC local radio was saved  from the cuts by those who actually value it and know that its essence is not in ticking boxes but representing local communities, you hear that every day on most stations on peak programs. The contributions that saved BBC local radio came from MPs, Farming communities, local business, charities, the music industry, etc etc and most importantly it came from the public who recognised that it was the way to have their say on national and local issues.


That is an important part of democracy.


I know that , against the odds, my BBC local radio station works very hard to cover the issues that are important in my area. They certainly want engagement and interaction for that to work. That engagement and interaction is up to us as listeners and we need to use that opportunity,


If something goes wrong with a program or feature, or there is a problem with interacting we should be clear and honest in our complaint. In that way we can see where the problem lies and not suggest that it reflects a wider problem with BBC local radio. Because there are real problems, such as funding and the Mark Forrest Show and the amount of pre recorded shows.


So , please, no more cooking metaphors and more detail.

Dennis Marshall

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My profuse apologies, should anyone consider I neglected detail in my most recent posting, however it may now be timely to extract some previous comments:

The following words were heard around 6-05pm last night, on Radio Stoke:

"Still we're getting those comments in, on our Facebook page and on our texts as well.. ..in answer to my very simple question, just after four - so what's for tea, tonight"?


Do those few words not sum up - admirably - just one small aspect of how far off track Radio Stoke has become? In recent months, two separate programmes on the same station have invited listeners to post their 'Selfies' on the station's Facebook page - and then read out a motley assortment of names (that we were assured had contributed these).

Is there nothing better to discuss, between 4-00 and 7-00, on a weekday afternoon? Is this really 'efficient use' of our licence fee? Or of everyone's valuable time?

Moreover, where is the station's consultation in all of this? Rita has been kind enough to outline her own station's clear commitment to consultation, namely a regular 'Letters to the Editor' segment. Again, I have previously highlighted how no such feature exists on Radio Stoke. Despite a myriad of changes being forced upon the audience, no serious effort whatsoever was ever expended into consulting with their listenership. Questions still remain unanswered.

Another contributor spoke plainly of the democratic principles upon which our Forum is run, whilst bemoaning the lack of such democracy - in some areas of local radio. I did not interpret this as an attack upon one particular station, but merely an expression of her dissatisfaction at recent changes 'across the board', so to speak.

It should not be forgotten that 'DQF' is lamely trotted out as a convenient excuse for many of the recent cutbacks, e.g: total removal of listener requests by Radio Stoke. However, there is also clear evidence of a failure to 'sing from the same hymnsheet'. Why exactly can most adjoining stations (to this one) continue to offer their listeners music requests?

More importantly, why has Radio Stoke marginalised the facility to email its on-air programming? Again, neighbouring stations continue to actively promote this means of communication - so what makes Radio Stoke feel the need to differ from the norm?

darcysarto

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Well I'm still mystified about the tick boxing but...



I'm not sure whether this is just complete lack of imagination & creativity or very lazy.  I've heard some awful subjects for being 'part of it' but this one is rattling around down the bottom of the barrel.

Conversely, this morning they were talking about International Womens Day.

Conversely again, the other day they did one of those irritating anonymous 'reports' or 'surveys'...



Moving on... has DQF been blamed for the lack of requests?  Who has done this Dennis?  Has this come from someone at BBC Stoke?


Rita

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Hello North of the Border,  Here are my thoughts on "What makes local radio tick?".  Hope you don't find it too boring!

The success of Radio Merseyside is, that is has been built on "interaction" between presenters, listeners, and, to some extent, Management.  There are various ways this works successfully, i.e. via quizzes, talking about subjects that listeners feel passionate about, music requests, views on football matches.  Also as I have said in the past there is a "Letters to the Editor" spot on Monday after 1.00 p.m. which lasts for about 10-15 minutes, where praise and/or complaints are mentioned and in the latter case, explanations are given if at all possible' - this forms part of the 'phone-in programme..  If there are events taking place in the region that you are keen to publicise, if you send details in via email, letter etc. they are usually mentioned in some of the programmes, both on weekdays and at weekends.
Apart from the variety of programmes, mention must also be mentioned of the "A Team".  This is run by volunteers who have expertise in various fields and if you have a problem. e.g. finding a tradesperson, or something has gone wrong with work you have had done, or you have worries about a gas bill or similar, they do their very best to help or, if not, refer you to some organisation or person who can.  I think this was an innovation by the previous Managing Editor, Mick Ord, and it has proved to be very successful.  Many people have reason to be thankful for advice given or problems sorted and are very appreciative.  This service is available Monday - Friday 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m, I think.
Most of the presenters are from and live in the area and therefore have a natural affinity and empathy with the listeners in all parts of the area they serve.  I think it is true to say that the community in this part of the country are very close-knit and loyal and lonely and vulnerable people or those who are unable to leave their homes for any reason regard the station as "family" and feel as though the presenters are friends and are in their homes with them - in other words they are the "company" they seek and I think it is true to say that the listeners are most loyal to them.
The programmes try to suit a variety of tastes, because everybody doesn't have the same taste in music etc.  Just as an example, there are specialist programmes which are usually aired at the weekend which include "On the Beat" and "BBC Introducing in Merseyside" (a weekly round up of Merseyside's rock scene) on a Saturday evening and "Folkscene", "Sounds Country", "Orient Express" (reflecting the life of the Chinese community), "Upfront" (Music and interviews for Merseyside's Black community) ,"Pure Musical Sensations" (alternative music show) and "Daybreak" a "religious magazine programme"), these programmes taking place on a Sunday.  My favourite programmes also appear at the weekend and I love listening to them if football doesn't intervene! - but it does, and often!
Apart from the variety of programmes, from time to time, there are events which take place in "The Performance Space" which listeners are invited to attend (limited numbers obviously) e.g. Craft Workshops or Live Concerts by various artistes (some local).
It would be unfair of me not to pay tribute to the staff on the Reception Desk and in the BBC Shop who are always very friendly and make you feel welcome if you visit the Studios for whatever reason.  Also those who bring us the national and local news, local weather and traffic reports daily.  All play their part in making Merseyside a very friendly station and one that a lot of the listeners are passionate about.
This is what makes Radio Merseyside "the most listened to local radio station outside of London".
Obviously I could say a lot more, but I don't want to bore you too much with too much detail of a station I am passionate about and love the bones of for the majority of the time.
Obviously no station is perfect, but I enjoy what I listen to and some of the programmes make my weekend special.

Dennis Marshall

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Well said, Rita. A radio station to be truly proud of. A radio station that continues to value the loyalty of its audience. A radio station that has not lost sight of the priceless asset that interaction with its listeners is. And a radio station that at least makes an attempt at seeking their opinions on its output.

How I wish my local radio station was still operated upon those lines.


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