Salford staff to help pedal-power 5 live

MediaCity UK MediaCity will be be transformed into a hub of renewable energy

5 live is devoting a day of programming to the energy debate on September 5. And with fracking as the environmental story of the summer, it couldn't be more timely.

The piazza at Media City will be transformed into a hub of renewable energy which will be harnessed to fuel a purpose built OB studio that will be switched on for the Breakfast Show at 7am.

If all goes according to plan, programmes will be broadcast from the studio until Peter Allen and Anna Foster (5 live Drive) come off air 12 hours later.

Start Quote

It's about taking a news story and giving it a creative treatment, which 5 live does really well. The energy debate is high profile and relevant to everyone”

End Quote Heidi Dawson 5 live editor

Energy Day was pitched to the network by TBI Media during an indie commissioning round. It's an ambitious project and planning has taken around six months.

'It's about taking a news story and giving it a creative treatment, which 5 live does really well,' says 5 live editor Heidi Dawson. 'The energy debate is high profile and relevant to everyone. What we've done is come up with an innovative approach that engages audiences in that debate and gives them a chance to join in.'

Energy Secretary

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and his shadow, Caroline Flint, are the first of a long list of high profile guests who'll take part throughout the day. They'll be talking to Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden on the Breakfast Show and there'll be a live audience for Your Call from 9am, in which Davey will take questions.

The 'big six' energy companies have all put up representatives and Shelagh Fogarty's programme will focus on the consumer, with energy costs, ways to save money and help with bills the focus.

Energy Day is a first for 5 live and the piazza will be buzzing with BBC staff, celebrity participants and the public, all of whom can lend a hand - or a foot - to ensure enough energy is produced to keep the programmes on air.

Richard Bacon Cycles, see-saw and 'hamster wheel' will be set up in Salford to keep Richard Bacon on air

Richard Bacon's two hour show between 2pm and 4pm will be pedal powered by exercise bikes. A bank of around 20 cycles will be set up in the piazza's 'kinetic playground', which also contains a see-saw, roundabout and 'hamster wheel' which require human power to contribute to the energy demands of a live broadcast.

'How much wattage we're producing will be closely monitored,' says Dawson. 'We have a mini-grid, closely monitored by experts, and it will be clear if we're running short of power.'

Chris Boardman boost

Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman will be there to give the grid a boost and members of the public are welcome to hop-on a bike and pedal too.

In addition, solar panels and two types of wind-turbine will supply the grid, which itself will be hooked up to a big screen, so everyone can see what's producing the most energy.

Chip fat from the Salford canteen will be transported to nearby Manchester University where the necessary treatment will be carried out to enable it to power the studio's generator.

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If the kinetic playground isn't producing enough, well, everyone will have to run or pedal faster!”

End Quote Heidi Dawson 5 live editor

Dawson says she's entirely confident of producing enough energy for the network not to fall off air.

'The big screen will enable everyone to see exactly what's going on,' she says. 'If it's a blustery day, the wind-turbine graph will go up and if it's cloudy, you'd expect to see the solar graph falling. If the kinetic playground isn't producing enough, well, everyone will have to run or pedal faster!'

In its first annual Electricity Capacity Assessment published in June, the energy regulator Ofgem warned Britain risks running out of energy generating capacity in the winter of 2015-16. The report predicted the amount of spare capacity could fall from 14% now to only 4% in three years, meaning Britain would need to rely on imported gas, which would make price rises more likely.


5 live Drive will bring Energy Day to a close with an in depth look at the news and politics surrounding the debate. They'll be taking in nuclear energy and fracking, both of which will have been sign-posted with special reports from around the country earlier in the day.

5 live's controller Jonathan Wall sums up Energy Day as a unique way to look at a national news story in a comprehensive fashion.

'We're offering audiences the chance to put their questions to those that matter in the world of energy,' he says. 'Powering a studio on renewable energy is a risk for the station, but will make for exciting radio nonetheless.'


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