Andrew Abbott's Blog

Thursday, 27 October 2011

BBC Local Radio

I recently found myself being followed on Twitter by a group called save local radio @savelocalradio if you want to follow them back. I think they latched on to me because I replied to a tweet one of the presenters on BBC Lincolnshire sent about the threat to local stations such as Lincs. I followed back, not only because that’s what I would often do but because this is something I believe in.

The new bishop of Lincoln was recently interviewed in the Lincolnshire Echo and he said something I had not really considered but it struck a chord with me. He said it seemed to him there are not many people speaking up for Lincolnshire. He’s right when you think about it but one of the few voices there are is BBC Lincolnshire and that voice is in danger of being drowned out.

Those of you in this country will be aware that the BBC generally has got to drastically cut its costs and one of the ways they are planning on doing this is not by slashing the pay or even doing without celebrity presenters although they may be doing that behind the scenes, but by reducing the local output in favour of regional coverage or just pumping out national radio such as five live at non peak times. Not surprisingly this has not gone down well with BBC employees working on local radio.

Does it matter? Well I think it does. See above, who else is there to speak up for Lincolnshire? This is a national thing but I think here in Lincolnshire it will particularly hit home because our identity is being rapidly eroded. The Lincolnshire dialect is barely spoken. If you asked an actor to do Lincolnshire it’d be ee bah gum or worse still, Lancashire. To outsiders we’re up north or should I say oop north and that’s that. The problem with Lincolnshire is, in terms of land mass we’re a region. In terms of population we’re not so we tag along like the plain friend most pretty girls seem to go around with to make themselves look even better, unwanted and unappreciated.

As far as the government is concerned Lincolnshire is part of the East Midlands, there’s an official map showing the regions. We were part of the BBC in the Midlands which, if we were going to be anywhere I didn’t mind too much having been born in Nottinghamshire. I know others don’t identify so readily. I think the one thing we’re all agreed upon is that we’re not and don’t want to be the south although I remember even that was suggested, in terms of general outlook and way of life in a survey a while age. That ruffled a few feathers I can tell you.

Now, the regional map has been artfully redrawn by the BBC and Lincolnshire has disappeared from the East Midlands and we are asked to believe that we are a totally new “region” called Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. Really? As far as local TV is concerned our output is centred on Hull. Hull is a lot bigger than Lincoln so most of the news comes from there. That’s fine, I don’t have to watch it and I don’t. In fact I get my TV signal by cable through Virgin and the default local station is BBC East Midlands and although Lincs and East Yorks is available I can’t be bothered to find it so I don’t watch any local output. Thanks BBC.

What bothers me now is that I do listen to BBC Lincolnshire. I have to say I’d largely stopped doing so precisely because BBC Lincolnshire on the radio was gradually becoming BBC Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire so I stopped listening and moved over to Radio Four and Radio Two. What brought me back was the cycle ride in aid of Children in Need by one of the presenters, a producer reporter and the sports editor from the Lincolnshire Echo. It was epic local radio at its finest, it was about Lincolnshire residents doing something for a national fund raiser and the people of Lincolnshire responded big time.

I heard an interview on the radio with someone from the university saying regional radio could be a lot better because the regional presenters would be more professional and pointed out when Radio Lincolnshire, as it then was, started out the afternoon show was regional which it was, so was the evening show.

I don’t mind if it’s not ever so good, I can do without Brucie or Jeremy Paxton but could we please, just this once have something that is for us, not some phoney “region”, just Lincolnshire, before it disappears forever?

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