BBC’s Hidden Local Radio Gems

A blog by John Myers has recently highlighted the worrying lack of progression within BBC Local Radio three years after the man himself gave a comprehensive review
of said department of the BBC.

A depressing read for many reasons, one being little comment on the programmes
and content itself.

It’s easy to stigmatize BBC Local Radio for blocked-drain phone-ins
and gardening programmes but if looked hard enough, there are
one or two shining lights, and standouts hidden within the schedules.

Starting off with an offering from my neck of the woods…

Sean Rowley ” All Back To Mine”: BBC Radio Kent Late Saturday/Early Sunday 1-3am

The man who coined the term “guilty pleasures” long before the phrase
became it’s own meaning rules the Saturday night airwaves over the Garden,
and empties the contents of his record box all over it.

Aimed for the “more discerning music lover” it succeeds in what a really good
music show on the radio should be doing, scouring a wide range of melodic genres,
and being unpredictable but never boring, with Rowley’s laid back and witty mannerisms fitting into the show’s aim of being at a mate’s house and sharing his record collection with those in the room with him.

Intimate and engaging.

Iain Lee: BBC Three Counties Radio Mon-Fri 6-9am/BBC WM Fri 2-4pm Sat 9am-12pm

This guy gets out a bit on my wireless blog.

And that’s no bad thing at all.

The one exception to Myers’ comment that mid-morning shows on BBC Local Radio are better than breakfast, though in no way does that suggest that Jonathan Vernon-Smith who follows, isn’t worth a listen.

If radio is designed to be a friend to the listener, then Lee fits the bill with the ability to
provide the laughs but also be able to deal with sensitive issues without sounding forced or condescending.

Assisted by producer Katherine and roving reporter Justin Dealey, this is one of the few BBC Local Radio programmes that doesn’t just think outside the box, but produces content that actually gets talked about, even shared beyond the confines of Herts, Beds and Bucks.

None more so than a recent video where Lee and Dealey in response a to a caller subjected to homophobic abuse, stroll the streets of Luton pretending to be an openly gay couple leading to rather revealing dare I say disturbing reaction.

All other stations in the network, take note. This is how compelling local radio
should be done.

Martin Kelner One on OneBBC Radio Leeds Mon-Fri 2-3pm

The “most sacked man” in radio presides over a simple but effective format with his daily
interview series talking to key cultural figures from West Yorkshire and occasionally outside the county.

One such delight as of recent was an interview with Corrine Drewery
from Swing Out Sister in November last year, which worked on a personal level
not just revealing more to the singer that just her “Breakout” radio hit single, but a reminder of the music that made me love the medium as a whole with tear-inducing record choices from Dusty Springfield, Petula Clarke and the Beach Boys.

Best of all, it’s non-confrontational with Kelner allowing his guests to do the talking.

A simple reminder of radio’s warmth, and a how-to guide in radio interviewing.

Just a brief insight into the rare but exciting side of BBC Local Radio and what there
should be more of around the regions.

Overall, average just isn’t acceptable.

If there’s any programmes worthy of listing that I may have forgotten to blog, please
do give them a mention in the comments below.

About Robin Blamires

I live in Margate and am interested in radio and music. Bipolar and ASD.
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3 Responses to BBC’s Hidden Local Radio Gems

  1. dogsbarker says:

    I can highly recommend the Sunday morning programme, Clueless’ on BBC Radio Sheffield. This programme is hosted by an in-studio presenter and ‘The Cluemaster’. On the road is team of two other BBC presenters, one who drives and the other who communicates with the studio.

    The premise of the programme us that the listeners have to interpret a series of extremely cryptic clues which will lead the road team to 5 or 6 locations in the station’s service area.

    The clues are extremely difficult to interpret and lead to wonderful interactions between he public and the studio

    I first heard this programme a few weeks ago as I was driving my 20 year old son down to London. As we began to lose the signal I bemoaned that we could not listen anymore and said I would listen later on the iPlayer. My son suggested that, as we were just about to reach a service station, that we should stop there and listen to the final 20 minutes of the show in the car park.

    We did – and both of us agreed, despite our 40 year age difference and our incomplete inability to solve any clues because of our lack of nowledge of the region, that this was one of the most compelling programmes we had heard for a long time


    Andrew Barker from Huddersfield

  2. Listen out for Rob Adcock on BBC Northampton drive and Dotty McLeod on BBC Cambridgeshire breakfast – both young and already pretty awesome. Also Ben Prater on BBC Wiltshire breakfast. All three are a bit understated, funny at appropriate times and capable at handling news stories well.

  3. Stephen Bumfrey on BBC Radio Norfolk. Natural, funny, clever and warm.

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