Answering your questions about 5 live
Editor's note: last week's 'open post' has received 38 comments so far and many good questions and opinions have emerged but a comment from nayrsllew on an earlier post by Adrian Van Klaveren stands out as a nicely-organised summary of many people's concerns so I've asked Adrian to respond directly to nayrsllew's questions here - SB
1. Why does Stephen Nolan fly to Manchester when there are studios in Northern Ireland? And doesn't his abrasive style grate?
Stephen's programme has been produced from Manchester for the last few years - that's where the production team are based and we've set things up there technically to be able to deal with all of 5 live's requirements, especially for breaking news. We're expanding our Manchester operation in the New Year so that late night programmes seven-days-a-week come from the city. This is more efficient for us in terms of how we organise both producers and studio managers. Presenting Stephen's programme from Belfast would work out to be more expensive because of the need to take the production team to him three nights a week as well as the additional technical investment we'd need to make.
As for Stephen's style, it certainly doesn't grate with lots of people who really value his programmes and have been listening in increasing numbers since he joined 5 live. Last year he was once again nominated for a Sony Radio award, recognising the quality of his programmes.
2. Why can't shows be networked from studios from around the country (like weekend evenings from Manchester) rather then spending licensee fee money on moving everyone north?
In the end I think a radio station like 5 live needs a clear base. It helps makes the station as a whole sound more coherent, it improves the flow of information between programmes, it makes staffing and resourcing the station more efficient and it's crucial in our ability to cope with very unpredictable events such as major news stories. We are doing more and more outside broadcasts and we're totally committed to being all over the UK - but it's much better to do this starting from a place which is the heart of the station.
3. Will presenters cutting their on-air hours also have their salaries cut?
All presenters' contracts are negotiated individually and I won't go into any of those details. We work within an overall budget for presenters and I can assure you we have not had to increase that budget as a result of the schedule changes.
4. Does 5Live do any tracking research on listener preferences? Do you pay any attention?
We do lots of research into listener preferences, ranging from the actual listening figures through to more detailed work on individual programmes and focus groups where people tell us what they think. We pay a great deal of attention to all of this though it's always going to be a case of applying judgement and it's very unlikely that any one set of research or figures would be decisive.
Fighting Talk is well established as very successful sports-based comedy show. It seemed to me there was an opportunity also to develop a news-based comedy show which can help us build our audience and give 5 live another distinctive programme in its weekend line-up - that what we're aiming to do with Christian's programme this autumn.
6. How and when will the new line-up be judged a success?
It will take time. Changes to radio schedules always take time to bed in because programmes develop organically and it does take time for people to get used to the changes. We will look at listening figures, audience appreciation and at what people are telling us in forums like this and many other places. But instant judgements and reactions are something to be very wary of - it's always worth remembering how Simon Mayo's arrival at 5 live was initially greeted.
The appointment was certainly not on geographical grounds. I'm certain Tony will be an excellent presenter of our new late night show whilst Phil and Aasmah, also both excellent presenters, have important roles with the station and are very much part of the team.
8. Is 5Live a serious news and current affairs station or a lightweight tabloid news and entertainment station?
5 live is a station committed to bringing its audience live news and live sport in a way which is accessible, intelligent, informal and involves our audience. We cover a huge range of subjects and we aim to be in touch with how people live and the things they care. I honestly don't think the serious versus tabloid distinction is very helpful in defining what we actually do.
9. Why were Lovejoy, Issy Clarke et. al. dumped?
Neither Tim Lovejoy nor Issy Clarke have been "dumped". You can hear Tim Lovejoy regularly on Friday evenings and Issy Clarke joins Danny Baker on Saturday mornings. We have concentrated 6-0-6 at weekends and a different company is producing the programme and refreshed the format. But Tim and Issy are very much still with us.
10. Will 5Live management engage its audience more often and change? BBC Four's controller was on 5Live a few months ago. Adrian needs to front up on Mayo's show (safer as he's leaving the station) and hear from listeners live.
This blog is clearly a way of hearing from listeners and in posts such as this responding directly to listeners. I have appeared on both Simon and Victoria's programmes in the past as well as on Feedback and the Radio Talk podcast. I'm planning to do a question-and-answer session on this blog early in the New Year, which should be another chance to put points to me directly.
Adrian Van Klaveren is Controller of BBC Radio 5 live