Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Radio Devon gets it wrong

Although living in Cornwall (just) I seem to have much more trouble receiving BBC Radio Cornwall than its Devon counterpart. Perhaps I should try listening on line. I don't listen to the radio continuously, in fact I enjoy the contrast of having no man made sounds around me on occasion although some people seem to be scared of silence. At various moments of my day I am likely to tune into Radio Devon but these times are disappearing rapidly. Why? Well Radio Devon have had a bit of a shakeout dropping some of their presenters. Those remaining it would seem are being asked to do longer stints. Researching today's 'Western Morning News' I see that there are just six shows between 6 in the morning and 1 am: Five of these are single handed and 3 hours each whilst the other one of 4 hours duration has co-presenters.

Now if you are going to have one person doing a three hour programme it needs some music to give the presenter a breather now and then - of course some of these programmes are primarily there to play music anyway. Why my annoyance then? I'm particularly bothered by 'The Interactive Lunch' which runs from midday till 3 pm. Previously there had been a 2 hour phone in programme at lunchtime in which the public could sound off about various issues, in fact I've expressed an opinion on it on one or two occasions. It was hosted by Justin Leigh and he did a very professional job it has to be said, he couldn't be faulted. He was followed by Michael Chequer who I also found to be a good presenter. This programme was totally devoted to the expression of opinions, yes it had the occasional expert being quizzed by the presenter about a subject but this was part and parcel of the broadcast. You understood exactly what the programme was there for.

Move on to the here and now and we have 'The Interactive Lunch' hosted by David Fitzgerald who likes to be called 'Fitz'. Fitz is a genial sort of chap, very much reminding me of Harry Secombe but TIL is such a mish-mash you're not quite sure what it's trying to do. Like its predecessor it has people phoning in and specialists in the studio but every so often it is interrupted by music or should I say "so called music". There is a good deal of pop music that I'm OK with but on his show most of it is so dire I have to hit the off switch! You get the impression that a producer is randomly pulling them from the rack but the bulk is instantly forgettable. I can see that Radio Devon have a bit of a problem because just one person doing a phone in for more than two hours is too much in my opinion. The station has gone from having a very well defined and interesting programme to one that is very bland with occasional assaults on my eardrums. The worst aspect for me is when a presenter starts talking about something else over the top of a song before the last strains thankfully disappear - this isn't Radio1 for heaven's sake (not to cast aspersions on that channel but it is a case of "horses for courses")

It seems that others are getting fed up with what is going on judging by a letter in the paper from Tony Elliott of Kingsteignton. He is less concerned about music peppering the day's programmes but notes how the selection of this music has changed. He reasonably points out that a good number of the daytime listeners are retired folk who are not into the latest pop music. He suggest writing to Mark Grinnell, the managing editor of BBC Radio Devon. Not a bad idea Mr Elliott, not a bad idea at all!

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