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Author Topic:  What makes local radio tick? It's more than just a box-ticking exercise!  (Read 25694 times)

Northoftheborder

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So, so true Mel! Outside of London, Radio Merseyside haven't forgotten their audience (or their invaluable input) when it comes to enjoyable weekend entertainment.

You may recall how - just over three months ago - it was suggested we compare their Sunday Brunch programme with the lacklustre fare served up around the same time by Radio Stoke's James Watt. Merseyside's Jason Hardy was voted the clear winner, simply because of his show's overriding amount of audience participation - thus delivering a much livelier sound.

Sadly, today was Jason's last Sunday Brunch, as he announced he's off to a new venture elsewhere within the BBC. I hope all Forum members will wish Jason the very best, while at the same time hoping that Radio Merseyside will maintain - or improve upon - his high standards!

Rita

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Hello Northoftheborder,

Frankie Connor is taking Jason Hardy's spot from 11.00 a.m. - 2.00 p.m. from 3rd. August. I have never listened to Jason much, as I am otherwise engaged for most of his programme, only getting home at about 12.45 p.m., but I think I can safely say, without fear or favour, that Frankie is a first-class presenter - one of the very best and the show will be very enjoyable, I can guarantee you that, no ifs or buts!
Of course, the dreaded football season will soon be upon us and, as Everton are in Europe this year, there will be even more of it broadcast - so I don't know what will happen after 2.00 p.m! - I don't really care!

Susie O

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A few weeks ago, I sent Jason Hardy an email for something on his Sunday morning show, where you could choose four songs for him to play. Straightaway he sent me back a short but pleasant reply. He said it was a pleasure to hear from me. A couple of weeks later he played all four of my songs.

Last week I emailed Radio Stoke's James Watt, with a couple of very simple questions about his Sunday show. One week later, still no sign of any acknowledgement, let alone a reply.

Must be official policy at Radio Stoke not to bother responding to any of the listeners' concerns now. Looks like Northoftheborder, Rustey and Dennis were right all along, and all listeners are treated with contempt nowadays, unless they're called Linda. The amount of on-air mentions she gets are beyond a joke now, no wonder the management won't reply to any of the many concerns all those other listeners have tried to pose.

Northoftheborder

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Just one tiny thing to consider, Susie! Wasn't the first station you approached Radio Merseyside? As they are still able to recognise audience participation for the priceless asset that it is, they'd be only too willing to air your creative ideas, wouldn't they? BTW, Jason Hardy can still be heard in the North West (well some weekends anyway) from 12-2pm each lunchtime on Radio Manchester, football sport permitting. As you've now discovered, sadly Radio Stoke can't even bother to answer any of our simple questions.

It has little to do with not having time - and probably even less to do with not having the resources - to account for their actions.

It all boils down to a basic lack of courtesy, mixed with an arrogant "we know best" attitude, doesn't it? If it only affected listeners' music requests, it mightn't be so bad, but there's an increasing realisation that it goes much, much deeper than that. Forgive me for repeating myself once again, but local radio is tasked with holding key decision-makers in their area to account, isn't it?

But you try asking the management of your BBC local radio station to explain the multitude of changes they've brought about, and you're in for a long, fruitless wait. Well, you and me both got the same spineless, cowardly responses to our concerns, didn't we?

Dennis Marshall

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I wonder if you managed to hear 'Stuart George & Charlotte Foster' this morning? Radio Stoke re-interpreted the concept of holding key decision-makers to account in an 'interesting' new fashion, as they put listeners' questions to the West Midlands' Area Manager of FirstBus.

This was no live interview, however. For further details take a listen to Friday's programme, where the audience was invited to contact the show, via the usual channels. Naturally, emailing received hardly a mention. Further details may be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02653qf

This observer notes that listeners were informed that a selection of their queries would be made, to use whilst Stuart & Charlotte recorded the interview for later broadcast. Whether this was at the behest of the FirstBus manager is unclear, but it is an intriguing turn of events, as I cannot recall the last time an 'In The Hot Seat' style of questioning was pre-recorded.

Please hesitate however, before you consider the FirstBus manager to not have the courage of his convictions, in not agreeing to a live question-and-answer session. The background to this matter is quite complex, as his company introduced a host of service changes, toward the end of July. These proved somewhat controversial, so his company must be applauded for previously putting individuals up for live interview.

Additionally, someone deserves congratulation for returning to an issue that continues to divide opinion. It is not entirely clear whether FirstBus instigated this current interview, or whether Radio Stoke invited them to appear, but I believe one or two lessons can be drawn from this:

  • Changes were made to an established service, some of which proved to be unpopular.

  • Management of the company involved seem to have been relatively keen to discuss matters.

Although FirstBus appear to have no qualms 'facing their public', is there any logical reason why the management of Radio Stoke cannot do likewise? Over two years into the role, the station's Gary Andrews still seems most reticent to discuss the myriad of changes he wreaked upon Radio Stoke.


AndrewU

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That's an interesting analogy Dennis, but also might be worth noting that FirstBus is a purely commercial operation. If they provide services to the public benefit, then that's great, but unfortunately they have no obligation to do so.

Obviously the same is not true of Radio Stoke.

Northoftheborder

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I see what you've both done there, chaps! Can I deal with Andrew,"First"? Granted, the bus firm has no actual obligation to provide services to the public benefit, but FirstBus is a large, reasonably successful concern, with their image to uphold - both to the public in general - and to their shareholders in particular. So it's in the interests of their positive public perception they co-operate, isn't it?

Had they declined to put a representative up for interview (even for this peculiar pre-recorded piece) then I'm fairly sure Radio Stoke would have been relatively quick to respond, quoting something along the lines of: "We asked them for a statement, but..." Does that sound like another Radio Stoke-related thread? The link below should provide some interesting background information...

http://www.bbclocalradioforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1033.msg7617;topicseen#msg7617

As this forum is about radio (not buses) and I know little about provincial public transport services, let's discuss obligation instead, shall we? As I've previously noted, it's unfortunate that the Service Licences don't specify much in the way of obligation, instead preferring to dwell more upon aspirations. Until such time as they get that oh-so-long overdue review, there's not much we can do!

But one aspiration I think I'd hope to have, is that the management team of my local radio station could find it in themselves to adopt a similarly open approach to "customer relations" (with their audience) as FirstBus clearly do, with their passengers. Please?

Heaven forbid that BBC local radio should even be considered for ANY form of "privatisation", mind you! But it could be a worthwhile exercise, if they were to study management techniques used within private industry. Over the last two years, many tactics deployed by Radio Stoke have been anything but transparent. Leaving so much to be desired - and leaving their audience totally in the dark.

AndrewU

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I see what you've both done there, chaps! Can I deal with Andrew,"First"? Granted, the bus firm has no actual obligation to provide services to the public benefit, but FirstBus is a large, reasonably successful concern, with their image to uphold - both to the public in general - and to their shareholders in particular. So it's in the interests of their positive public perception they co-operate, isn't it?

Hi Northoftheborder. Agreed. I'm saying that First were engaging in public consultation without having any public obligation to do so.

Even if the service licenses don't explicitly place any obligations for public consultation on the BBC, I would have thought that this is implicit from being an organisation with a public charter.

Northoftheborder

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Just in case anyone was under the impression that all I ever do is criticise Radio Stoke, here's something positive for a change!

Let's face it, there's so much that so many others - not just me - found fault with, about plenty of aspects of this increasingly self-centred outpost of BBC local radio, isn't there? Thank heavens this forum lets us comment, when cowardly management never will...

This weekend sees the centenary of the birth (in Stoke-on-Trent) of renowned footballer Sir Stanley Matthews, admired by so many for his distinguished international achievements, alongside a record-breaking lengthy career in the domestic game. Although I'm far from the biggest follower of football, it seems only right and fair that this occurrence should be properly marked by BBC local radio.

Radio Stoke have referenced this noteworthy event over much of the past week, both within "normal" programming and during the many sports shows that have overtaken the midweek schedules, since January 5th. This may probably be the centrepiece, though:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02htl9n

Scheduled as an additional programme at 1:00pm today, it unfortunately means a 50% reduction in airtime for the dreadful Liz Ellis Saturday lunchtime show, so sports programming has its uses after all! Couldn't they have made the documentary longer, though??

Anyone with enough spare time to follow her tweeting [@LizEllisRadio] may have seen yesterday's comments about "... back on air tomorrow from 12 for the shortest show ever...". I've so many more interesting things to occupy my time, but was helpfully pointed in this direction by on-air comments from her colleague Stuart Ellis. Aren't listeners fortunate that Twitter is so widely embraced?

Just one small quibble, though. More than one weekday presenter has referred to "... celebrating the hundredth birthday of Sir Stan...". As he passed away fifteen years ago, that's not really correct, is it? This kind of sloppy disregard for accuracy now seems to happen more often, on Radio Stoke. Doesn't the Service Licence claim that local radio should be "a trusted guide to local events"?

Dennis Marshall

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This documentary, so kindly highlighted for us all by 'Northoftheborder' last weekend receives an additional airing tonight, in place of normal 'Sport at Six' programming:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02htl9n will link anyone interested, to this. Perhaps she posed a quite valid point, when posting this opinion?


...I'm not the only listener to consider Radio Stoke may just be struggling, in their quest to fill 55 minutes with sport each weekday evening? On the few occasions I've managed to sit through a whole show, the midweek editions have started with music - playing at least two more records later in the hour! Is that perhaps a subtle device to try and placate all the non-sports minded listeners? It's failed to convince me...

Whilst I would not wish to undermine the not inconsiderable achievements of Sir Stanley, especially around the centenary of his birth, this would appear to indicate a lack of originality, on the part of Radio Stoke. Maybe this was the only way to achieve the savings that led to the re-instatement of 5am to 6am weekday broadcasting?

darcysarto

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This documentary, so kindly highlighted for us all by 'Northoftheborder' last weekend receives an additional airing tonight, in place of normal 'Sport at Six' programming:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02htl9n will link anyone interested, to this. Perhaps she posed a quite valid point, when posting this opinion?


WOoooah.  Reverse up a minute everyone.. I've just clicked on your link Dennis and much as you, I wouldn't like to question the place of Sir Stanley's place in the annals of footballing history.  Although, lets be honest they probably needed to get their repeats in quickly as with it being his Centenary I imagine those still around who saw him play are literally a dying breed...

..Anyway as I was saying I clicked on your link and on that page I see another link to the broadcasting of yet another 'special'..  can anyone enlighten me as to the relevance of Chris Tarrant - The story of Tiswas to Stoke.. or to even local radio?

Northoftheborder

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...can anyone enlighten me as to the relevance of Chris Tarrant - The story of Tiswas to Stoke.. or to even local radio?

Hey Darcy, it's about as relevant to local radio as those "talking points" they do - when they're even shorter of original ideas than usual - harking back to our younger days! You know, which chocolate do you remember from when you were growing up, etc, etc...

Of course, it has zero relevance to any memories of vintage BBC shows, because Tiswas was an ATV production for independent TV!

Looking back over the post-Christmas schedules, there were a handful of one-hour "specials", fronted by Chris Tarrant, starting on Mon 29th Dec: Chris meets actor Ian Lavender. Then, on Tue 30th Dec: "Chris speaks to the Anchormen", in which he chatted to Midlands news hosts Bob Warman (from ITV...) and Nick Owen. The third show went out on Wed 30th Dec: The Story of Tiswas.

Without looking any further into it, I can only guess these programmes were supplied by the ruling BBC centre, i.e. Birmingham, to fill in the "in-between days" at the end of last year. Maybe they think Reading-born Tarrant is somehow associated with their city?

Dennis Marshall

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It would appear that the 'station sound' of BBC local radio is deemed to be in need of replacement. To that end, a 'new six note logo' has been commissioned from jingle production company Mcasso. This will undoubtedly have come at a not inconsiderable expense. To learn more, please follow this link, to the original 'Radio Today' post:

http://radiotoday.co.uk/2015/10/new-six-note-logo-for-bbc-local-radio-stations/

Mike Connaris, Mcasso CEO says, We were obviously delighted to be working again with the BBC Local Radio team. We developed a new logo to be used in all the cuts and recorded with the extraordinary BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Cardiff and the BBC Big Band at Angel Studios London, before mixing and mastering all the tracks at Mcassos studios. Were really looking forward to hearing the new branding on air from October.

The package is designed for use across all programmes including Breakfast, News, Sport, Community and Music.

Lecroy

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I like the football coverage though.

Rita

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Hello Lecroy,
I imagine a lot of listeners enjoy football coverage on local radio stations.  However, it is very irritating when music programmes are constantly cancelled for football, because other listeners enjoy those as well. There should be a way of "splitting" the airwaves so that all listeners can be accommodated. I have been told in the past by management that it is too expensive, but my argument is that if the BBC can pay out eye-watering salaries to various presenters, then they should be able to afford to do this simple thing. Cancelling programmes to accommodate sport all the time is completely unacceptable.


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