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10PM: 24 Hours in the Life of 5 live

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Jonathan Aspinwall Jonathan Aspinwall | 22:00 UK time, Friday, 4 March 2011

Tony Livesey and some of the 5 live team in Manchester.

Tony Livesey and some of the 5 live team in Manchester.

I'm the Editor of Late Night programmes on 5 live. We make Tony Livesey and Stephen Nolan's programmes in Manchester and then we produce Up All Night in London.
I love my job. I get to work with some of the warmest and most engaging presenters on BBC Radio. Tony Livesey, Stephen Nolan, Rhod Sharp and Dotun Adebayo have all seen record audiences in their slot. We've worked our socks off with an exceptionally busy news year which included the General Election and the World Cup.

Our shifts on Stephen Nolan and Tony Livesey start at lunchtime when we begin planning what will be in that night's show. The great thing about a late night programme is that you have loads of opportunities to see what other news shows are doing both on the radio and on the telly. You have lots of time to digest the papers and news websites from around the globe. The downside is that you want your progamme to make an impact and sound fresh. Lots of other progs would have already gone for the same guests, stories and treatments that you're considering.

The output editor sets the general tone, content and style of the output. But I also wade in when we're faced with editorial dilemmas. We're driven by breaking news and the big stories but we also want to connect with our audience and provide a warm and fun listen.

I love the nights when I'm studio editing. It's a massive buzz especially when there's breaking news. The beauty of 5 live is that you can rapidly change the running order to reflect the audience reaction, the quality of the debate and to ensure that we've got the editorial balance right. We really value the instant reaction that we get from our audience on text, email, Twitter and Facebook. The feedback we get from the listener shapes all of our shows.

The strange, anti-social hours of late night shifts often brings people together both on-air and off. Late night audiences are really loyal to their shows and often as not have a strong attachment to their presenters. We're a close knit team who have to work until the early hours when most people are tucked up in their beds. It brings its challenges - try waking up a big name politician when there's breaking news very late at night. But there's a great team spirit when you're working odd hours and generally it's a great laugh.

However, working on those long, dark, late night also brings with it some strange habits. We're all obsessed with sleep patterns. How much sleep we managed. Whether the kids woke someone up. We could all bore you senseless with tips for getting a bit of good sleep.

Food is another obsession. Mainly because there's so little choice late at night. Too many of us rely on the vending machine in the corner of the office.

At 7:30pm we have our programme meeting where the presenter is briefed about what's in the programme. Everyone attends the meeting including all of the technical and editorial staff. And it can get pretty fiesty.

This is also about the time that Tony starts his pre-show routine. He's exceptionally healthy most of the time and will start eating one of his twelve oranges during the meeting. Stephen Nolan is the opposite. He smuggles in packets of crisps into the studio and secretly munches on them during the news and sports bulletins.

A big part of my job has been preparation for 5 live's move to the Northwest. I'm responsible for all of the team who're currently based in Manchester. We've already had a successful start with the move of staff and programme to this city in 2010. A minimum of nineteen hours of 5 live output is now produced from the BBC's Oxford Road studios every week. It can sometimes be a little bit lonely being away from the rest of 5 live but we're loving being pioneers for the radio station - the first people to make the move.

We've recently moved from a small office (we called it the broom cupboard) to a relatively swanky room where we work with a team from the One Show, Radio 4's File on Four and a team who make BBC1's Rip Off Britain. There's a big buzz about the place. We're going to be the first news programme team to broadcast from our new home in Salford. A few weeks later and we'll be reunited with all the rest of 5 live when they move at the end of the year. 2011 is going to be one of the most exciting years in 5 live's history and we can't wait.

I finish my shift just after 1am. I find it hard to switch off so I go home and usually end up watching something trashy and fictional on DVD or TV. And then it's to bed, to dream of anything but news and sport.

Related Links
Check out the time-lapse video of the 5 live newsroom

Read the first blog entry for 24 Hours in the Life of 5 live by Breakfast's Chris Hunter

Read 5 live travel presenter Nick Duncalf's blog post

Read Rachel's blog about working on Your Call

Read Jonathan's post about the Derbyshire programme

Read Rabiya's blog about working on Logan

Read Alice's blog about Bacon

Read Phil Mackie's post about the trials of a 5 live regional journalist

Read Andy's post about working on Drive

Read 5 live's core news editor's blog

Read 5 live sport presenter Eleanor Oldroyd's blog post

Jonathan Aspinwall is 5 live's Editor of Late Night programmes


  • Comment number 1.

    I do enjoy Livesey and Up all Night. Light and a bit fluffy but able to be serious, although frankly Jacquie's bit was a waste of space, and Up all Night, the jewel in the 24 hour crown. I am sorry but I do not like listening to Nolan and his emotional interviews are really too sickly. He doesn't eat just crisps Jonathon, I remember when he started on the station he admitted licking them too. His weight issue is a bore.You cannot be so short of material that he is allowed to repeat stories he has already done in the week. His unbearable newspaper reviews! They last a minute then he allows discussion of one headline to take up the whole half hour with the carping left wing Bishop and his far too right wing oppo. So the other newspapers get no attention. Rod Sharp is so good and you must be proud of his programmes. Dotun can be a great hit or a bit of a miss. But the New York section is one you could actually extend to other great cities - what about Sydney, Hong Kong or Tokyo? So much going on in the world over our night that would be so interesting, and I remember there used to be a broadcast from Australia at one time.

    You are so lucky to be connected to these programmes (or most of them) and although I really enjoyed Bacon in the Livesey slot, Tony has stopped me reading in bed - that laugh!

  • Comment number 2.

    I have to admit that I am not a fan of Nolan either. I turn off as soon as I hear him. He sounds so smug and pompous.

  • Comment number 3.

    I stopped listening to him for a very long time but when he has deputised for Victoria he hasn't been as bad. I loathed all those sex stories he used to love presenting. I have listened to him from time to time in his original spot and these rather salacious stories are either not so commonly on or I have missed them. What I do dislike is his weight/health issues which he seems to make so much of and I don't understand why someone doesn't just say to him that he is in for an early grave unless he changes his diet and lifestyle; I can't understand why this stuff is seen as worthy programme content which he repeats frequently.

    Although Tony Livesey is a bit of a show off about his credentials at the same time he has a radio charisma which Nolan will never achieve. Perhaps it is that he has collected a little group of regulars, Jenny, Paul and Kate, and they all compliment the style of the programme as it is put together by Jonathon and his team. It works well. At present I reckon it is my favourite station programme anyway.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Why do we have t put up with Livesey's incessant trivial Text requests - it is so childish, unnecessary and tedious especially when he insists upon doing it between the news and sport. He is single handedly doing his best to dumb down Radio 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    Did anyone bother to listen to Murray this afternoon? A disgrace of a programme. BBC can't get the rights to Liverpool v Man U? Eh? Come on.

    Then he blags up an interview with someone who appears to eating or chewing thro the interview.

    This was the lowest denominator of fee paying broadcast. Just so bad.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is off this topic.

    I had similar thoughts Jackstumps. I also get very fed up of Colin's endless questions - he meanders back and forth, loving his own voice, until the person being interviewed has quite lost what he is supposed to be answering. Could you send him on a (very long) course on how to interview please?

    I thought it strange the other day to hear Alan Green, plus Jimmy Armfield and probably Mike whoever, commentating on the match whilst on Radio Four news they had yet another BBC sports reporter giving at match comments. Just how many people do the BBC send to a football match?

  • Comment number 8.

    Yes Carrie, it is off topic. But if Five Live had a proper message board .....

  • Comment number 9.

    Exactly Jackstumps.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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