BBC Radio 5 live
The 5 live blog

BBC Radio 5 live and I go back a long way. It was my route into radio. My earliest radio memories are listening to the football scores with my Dad during Radio Sport on Radio 2 back in 1979. Fifteen years later - a postgrad journalism student at Falmouth College - I was listening to the 5 live launch day. I was desperate to get a job in the media and looking back now I think listening to the launch must have helped me to eventually get into the trade, because it happened only a few months later: as a sports and news broadcast journalist in local radio at Radio Humberside. Jane Garvey presents 5 live's first programme broadcast at 5am 28 Mar 1994.

As a journalism student inerested in politics and sport, 5 live was a sort of dream station for me. Radio Five, it's predecessor, had been a mish-mash of children's programmes, sport, education output and some news - something a little bit more difficult for me as a listener to understand what it was exactly. But a dedicated news and sport station for the network from 1994 made more obvious sense and with more radio output needed for more live broadcasting hours, little wonder it stimulated local radio, providing more opportunities for new-starters.

Soon after I joined Humberside, I moved into TV sport as a researcher in 1996. But I realised soon after that I missed the excitement of live radio. A job as a sports bulletin producer for 5 live followed in 1998. I became Deputy Controller in 2008, and Controller just last year.

During that time, I think the station's enduring appeal has been the conversational tone which was then - and to a certain extent still is now - one of the most unique things in radio. 5 live has a largely unscripted conversation with the audience threaded through its output. Its a topical, live debate, breaking news and sport station. There are plenty of similarities with how we were as a station twenty years ago: we've stayed true to what our purpose in life is.

But there's something rather special about its spirit. Something that people who visit Salford have commented to me back in London. It's to do with the energy which comes from the 5 live operation. Energy you can hear from the output.

Putting our news and sport alongside one another has definitely energised staff - sport's reporting has benefitted news, and storytelling techniques in news have benefitted our sports journalism. Bringing those two things closer together helps share skills and experience more readily. More than that though, I believe that if you're an all-day live radio station, there's excitement from every part of the station wherever you are on the floor. It's infectious as you walk around the building here in Salford.

Of course, there's a challenge with that: you have to make all the different subject areas gel together. We've done that this week with swapping presenters around for the 20th anniversary and its really worked well, in the same way that the bringing together of Olympics and 5 live did so successfully in 2012. When it works well you can see it in the office and hear it on the radio too.

The ability to set ourselves up in Salford has had a massive effect on us too. Getting the technical side set up exactly how we needed it to be for our programmes was a great opportunity for us. Practically it made it better for us to work as one station. Inevitably, when the entire station moved, new people arrived too - so there's been a re-energising from that as well.

With any birthday, a card needs to be written. (We'll be having cake too, on Friday lunchtime, cut by our very own Peter Allen). So, what would I say in the birthday card? I suspect I'd need a big card. There are a lot of people to shout out to. First, I'd thank the people who've worked on the station over the last 20 years and cared so much about it: a committed hard-working bunch of people who love working on 5 Live and are responsible for making it all happen. But, the audience gets a share of the birthday love too, an audience with whom we have, what I think is, a unique relationship. They'll tell us when they like it and they'll also tell us when they think we've got it wrong - we really appreciate that. It's a special thing for me because it demonstrates that the audience truly are part of the shows we make, as much as the production staff and the presenters.

Thank you, all of you. Share in the birthday love. And if there's not enough cake to go round, I'll just take half a slice.

Jonathan Wall is Controller of Radio 5 live.

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by mistered5

    on 4 Apr 2014 08:06

    I'd like to congratulate whoever had the idea for last night's Woodward/Barton interview. It was one of the most spellbinding hours of radio I can ever remember in the 20 years of 5 Live. I spent the last 20 minutes sat in the car so I didn't miss the end!

    A lot of other interviewers could learn a lot from Woodward's ability to listen to the interviewee and let them do the talking without interruption.
    It was just a shame that others in the BBC felt the need to sensationalise one comment within the the hour regarding Rooney, a comment that most football fans would agree with.

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by carrie

    on 3 Apr 2014 11:34

    The BBC is to send 272 staff to cover the World Cup, at a licence payer cost of £12 million. This will all obviously be TV and 5Live. How totally disgusting. No wonder they are laughing when you think of this jolly plus all the expenses they will claim. And who from all the 5Live programmes will be off to Brazil, even though England will probably be out by the end of the group stages? What's your bet? Nicky? Vicky? George?

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by Matt

    on 2 Apr 2014 19:45

    What a self gratifying blog that is! I cannot believe the fact that Radio 5 waste money hand over fist by flying presenters here there and everywhere for no apparent reason. For instance the dulcet tones of Mark Pougatch can be heard presenting various sporting events from the venue and on the very rare occasion has the opportunity to stay in the studio thereby not spending huge sums on travel and accommodation. Is there really any need to have a presenter and two commentators together with a pundit at a football match? Surely the likes of Mr Pougatch (who clearly has no morals and is taking all he can from public money) can present the show from a studio thereby reducing the obvious expense. In fairness to Mark Pougatch he is just one of many presenters who are allowed to jet all over the world to present programmes nobody really requires. Try patting yourselves on the back for pouring public money down the drain and get a grip on reality before the BBC hits a brick wall and the licence fee that pays for these luxurious outings will soon end.

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by David Shield

    on 2 Apr 2014 19:41

    Hi Carrie, yes I do, it is the BBC at its best!

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by carrie

    on 2 Apr 2014 11:57

    I pick and choose. Fortunately there are other stations. However there is no rhyme nor reason for the number of times in a minute you are told you are listening to 5Live. If you enjoy the programme you are listening to it when you are trapped in the station ID vortex.

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by Fedster

    on 2 Apr 2014 08:42

    Carrie why do you continue to listen to 5live, even though you dislike it so much? I cant see the logic.

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by carrie

    on 2 Apr 2014 07:46

    To illustrate my complaint about the 5Live strap being repeated so often, last night on Phil Williams I counted seven, yes seven 5Lives in less than one minute. Absolutely ridiculous. As if you didn't know who you are listening to. By the way Fed, as you are the only person apparently reading my comments, can I just say that the reason Wall does not come on here and answer points is that he doesn't need to take any notice at all, of anyone, because he can do as he likes and he can just say criticisms are so rare they don't need to be answered. I know lots of people who listen to 5Live and like it more than I do these days, but they all have similar views to me on what I have said above. Fact is they don't care as they don't have the historical attachment I have, and they put up with the things that bug them, because they are younger and they shrug it off and enjoy the bits they do. Whereas I think constantly getting I think Chris Warburton's voice scratching out the audio logo is a huge turn off and totally unnecessary, likewise having music behind the traffic and the weather forecast. The latter has been transformed by being presented regionally now, instead of the way Simon whoever used to dot about all over the place. Anyway...........Rajars are static or lower, they are never higher although this summer of course they will be because of the World Cup. So that will quell the ne'ersayers like me.
    David Shield, hello. You always loved 5Live!

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by David Shield

    on 31 Mar 2014 14:17

    Happy 20th Birthday Five Live!

    I've listened since 1998 and think it is the BBC at its best. The hour programme at Friday lunchtime proved that, so many memorable moments and class presenters!

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by lesleyclaire

    on 30 Mar 2014 22:36

    I couldn't agree more with carrie. Derbyshire, Bacon and Nolan are absolutely dire. It has got even worse lately since Nolan started broadcasting a misery/victimhood half hour at 11.30 p.m. I have emailed J Wall in the past, but given up hope of anyone else's opinion counting for anything. There are many of us with exactly the same thoughts on the forums, so we can't all be wrong.

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by Fedster

    on 30 Mar 2014 10:52

    Again Carrie there is no logic to your argument, none whatsoever, the people you say are awful, the people that Mr Wall can not be bothered to remove, are the very same people who get regular gigs on other BBC outlets/ C4/C5,ITV,SKY the list is endless, if they really are that dire, why are they getting so many gigs?

    For someone who moans about 5live so much, you do strangely spend a lot of time on their blogs/emails/listening to 5live, if I don't like something I move on, not stagnate and try and force others to agree with your point of view.

    I can guarantee most people reading this blog post agree with me, they just cant be bothered in posting.

    Don't let the numbers game fall you!

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