Bell to take charge of two local stations

Marianne Bell Marianne Bell has strong links with both services

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Radio Oxford and Radio Berkshire will share a single managing editor from October.

The move - which the BBC insists will not be a template for the rest of local radio - will see Marianne Bell work across both stations. Duncan McLarty will be her deputy.

Bell already has strong links with both services, which are around 30 miles apart. She was appointed editor of Radio Berkshire in 2002, just after the station became independent from Radio Oxford.

She took over at Oxford in late 2010, covering editor Steve Taschini's attachment at the College of Journalism. McLarty was acting editor at Berkshire during this period.

Taschini - who led the establishment of the Oxford tv service - has now decided to end his 27 year career with the BBC.

Start Quote

This is not about losing people or jobs. It is about using what we have in a smarter way”

End Quote Jason Horton Head of South Region

"This is not about losing people or jobs," says Jason Horton, head of the South Region. 'It is about using what we have in a smarter way, that in time should help us to release more money for programme making.

"I want to maintain the audiences we have and grow them. Across both stations we have the characters and experience to do just that."

Myers Report

Earlier this year, in a report for BBC management, radio executive John Myers called for a "slimmer" management structure within local radio, and suggested that one managing editor shared the role over two or three stations.

The BBC said that this was not the right answer in most cases but that Oxford and Berkshire were an "exception".

"While we believe it is possible to significantly reduce management in local radio we do not believe that, in most cases, reducing the number of editors is in the best interests of quality," said David Holdsworth, controller English Regions. "Oxford and Berkshire are an exception, due to the size and nature of stations and the areas they serve."

Bell is the only local radio editor to head two stations. Sara David runs both BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey which, despite having a split breakfast show and two locations, operate as a single station, sharing most of their programming.

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