There has been a debate over the replacement of more than 40 local evening BBC shows across England and the Channel Islands in favour of a single show broadcast by BBC Radio York’s Breakfast Show presenter Mark Forrest.
Many listeners have seen this move as a loss to the community spirit local radio encourages. The argument stems from the belief that a more widespread broadcast misses issues that affect local regions, with one listener commenting ‘Local radio should mean just that not this rubbish which is trying to be all things for all people but failing dismally.’
3,600 people on the BBC Radio Forum have objected to the cuts, while a further 2,600 listeners in Kent have appealed for former local evening radio host Roger Day to be reinstated.
The replacement broadcast is set to save the BBC £8 million from the £115 million local radio budget.
However, the Mark Forrest show does claim to feature the best local stories from around the UK and incorporates opt outs for regional breaking news and sport. The wider broadcast could mean that inspirational local stories will reach a larger audience and generate more impact. In addition, as the show only runs from 7pm – 10pm, it may produce the best of both worlds as it will allow local listeners to access stories from around the country while also providing a purely local aspect for the rest of the day.
As the current HS2 train route story has shown, anything that pits regional concerns against national issues is always controversial. Some people may say that this new national radio show destroys the community element of local radio, while other will see it as opening a wider window onto that very ethos. Either way it’s encouraging in this online era to see radio remaining central to so many people’s lives.
Post by Andrew Clark, Production Intern @ TNR Communications