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Has 5 live changed your life?

Thursday 13 February 2014, 14:28

Louisa Compton Louisa Compton 5 live Daytimes editor

Steve Evans - interviews from Richard Bacon programme

To mark 5 live’s 20th anniversary, on 28th March, we’re asking “Has 5 live changed your life?”

The network has had the privilege to share so many special experiences with people over its 20 year history. There have been interviews that gave listeners goosebumps; interviews that kept people listening in their cars long after they’d arrived at their destinations; and even interviews that changed lives.  

In 2013 we first met Steve Evans, who shared his journey of living with terminal cancer; in 2011 ‘Rachel’ a doctor, told us her story of alcoholism; and in 2012 footballer John Harston’s told us his experience of testicular cancer, that inspired a listener to seek help for what was found to be a small cancerous lump.

These stories provoked a lot of reaction from listeners, and now we are looking for more listeners whose lives are different after hearing something on air, from any 5 live programme. If you have a story you want to share, please email Victoria@bbc.co.uk.

Thousands of listeners have contacted Victoria Derbyshire’s show over the last three years, since the first intimate moment in February 2011 when ‘Rachel’, not her real name, publicly revealed her addiction:

I have been drinking today and I admit that fully.”

“Can I ask you how much?”

“I’m not sure, this sounds really bizarre, I’ve been drinking cans of Guinness because I think that’s got vitamins in it.”

“How long have you been drinking to this level for?”

“I’ve been drinking heavily for probably about 10 years now…I just want to let people know alcoholism is a disease”:

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Her telephone call prompted one of the biggest reactions from listeners 5 live has ever had, to the extent that whilst in a rehabilitation programme in Halifax, Rachel met a woman who said was there due to hearing Rachel on 5 live:

“I knew I’d heard your voice before, I heard you on the radio, you’re the reason I’m here.”

Some of the messages we received:

“Please tell Rachel that she may have saved my life today.”

“I have been a heavy drinker for the last two years and have been diagnosed with depression, I have been sober for the last 10 days and your programme has just strengthened my resolve to stay sober and get my life together.”

“I have little doubt, if this interview could be heard by a wider audience it would be better than any government alcohol abuse advertising campaign.”

“Thank-you for doing the interview with Rachel today, I listened mostly in tears, it sounded exactly like my late wife.”

Steve Evans

When Steve Evans shared his experience of living with terminal cancer with Richard Bacon, hundreds of listeners responded through emails, texts and tweets. Steve died on January 16, at the age of 52.

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To me, Steve took on our fears of terminal illness, pain, death, loss and being scared of all of the above - but he made it no big deal. He normalised it.  He assured us that it is okay, that whatever the outcome life is bigger, the journey is just that & whatever our outcome we will be okay...What a guy! Anon

@Simon_Caley:            @steveevans51  you have made me want to be a better human being through your chats with @richardpbacon one journey ends, another begins #rip

Steve, what a remarkable man I was waiting for scan results on my bowel when I first heard him, seriously ill, I found out I had a to have part removed, Steve kept me strong, as he said there is always someone worse off, luckily it wasn't cancer, after major op I'm ok now, he was so brave and his family too, the worry my family went through, my heart goes out to them R.I.P Steve. John, Wakefield 

I am totally inspired and humbled by both Steve and Stephen's positivity and frankness towards their illness. Just incredible and I wish them all the best for the future whatever that holds for them. My mum died aged 54 from a brain tumour, which was a harrowing experience and I wish we as a family could have embraced a positivity and energy for life in the same manner that Steve seems to be. Sarah, Derby

A few months ago you talked to Steve just after I had been told I have cancer and I sent a text to say how he inspiring I found him and he still makes me drive on and look on the bright side may his god bless him and thank-you.  Anonymous

John Hartson 

Former Arsenal and Celtic striker John Hartson told Richard Bacon about his treatment for testicular cancer. Ben Pilling, 28, from London, checked himself out after listening to a podcasted version of the interview in 2011, and was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The two men met in January 2013:

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Were you inspired to make a change because you heard someone else tell their story? Did our coverage of a news story make you do something about the issue concerned?

Perhaps you were inspired to have a health check; perhaps you met your future husband or wife at a 5 live event; or maybe you were inspired to change something in your life as a result of an interview you’ve heard?

Whether you've given something up - or taken something on, we'd like to hear from you. So much has changed in 20 years. But how are you different? And did we have anything to do with it?

If you have a story you want to share please email Victoria@bbc.co.uk or write in the comments below



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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I realise I may be in a minority with this view, but Five Live changed my life by turning me away from evening TV and toward the quality speech based offerings of the likes of Fi Glover and the excellent sports coverage or the original landmark style of 606 (sadly a pale imitation of the Danny Baker style)

    I find it bizarre that the management think that it's one of it's main contributions over the last 20 years is the misery laden style of the examples above that Derbyshire & Nolan seem to revel in. These are actually the type of issues that are turning me and my friends away from the station these days as the station seems to want to wallow in misery.
    In this week's flood coverage, Derbyshire seemed audibly disappointed that people were just getting on with life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    First, Congratulations! I cannot believe that it's been 20 years already -- I remember when Peter and Jane started winning awards at (age 5? 7?). (And, by the way, my 5Live life is much impoverished by the loss of JG (as, I suspect, is Peter's)).

    I listen via livestream from the States, so, sadly, I don't have access to everything you offer. But I have been very significantly enriched by having the access I do have. I am particularly devoted to Rhod Sharp, Mark & Simon, Peter Allen, and Richard Bacon, and, obviously, their related broadcasts.

    I would happily pay the annual licensing fee to have the full coverage -- to be able to push a button and have the BBC in my radio, my television, wherever. Thank God for livestreaming is all I can say. I fear the people who bitch endlessly about the BBC don't know what they have. Although I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment right to free speech, they need to be dumped in the middle of Kansas (where I am not) for five minutes, and it would shut them up forever. I am wild about NPR and PBS, here, but their futures are always at risk, which causes them to fund raise relentlessly in the present.

    So, congratulations and thank you so much for enriching my life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Yes there have been many wonderful moments but these fade in to the rather politically biassed depress-fests of Victoria and Nolan. The latter particularly spends half an hour a night on awful stories that although may have a good ending, can be so downright boring as he churns through his research and his often faux sympathy just is a turn off. There are many bright moments but unfortunately you have to be listening full time to catch them. I am afraid taking Savage on to your sports team was a terrible mistake, and although you clearly wanted a shock jock approach from him, I am afraid he is a turn off.
    Now has it changed my life? Yes. From being someone who would listen 24/7 I have become someone who picks the odd hour here and there to avoid Nicky's jokes, the ruination of a decent radio reception by Rachel's voice problems, Victoria's constant gloom and harping style, Bacon full stop (although loved that late night programme), Rachel's impossible posh news delivery which is so sneering, so I am left with Sheila and Drive. Your political bias was on air last night when Nolan tried and failed to get people to agree with him and I therefore turned as usual to World Service. During the day I listen to Radio 4. So yes my life has changed. I actually am more informed, better entertained, and generally less annoyed with what I listen to. The problem is this post will be removed because 5Live cannot cope with dissent. The fact that so few people now post on here is because usually there are no blogs so the habit of looking is gone, and secondly the free speech we all used to enjoy in the popular message boards has gone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Fivelive changed my life by giving me a station I could listen to all day. No more though. It has gone so rapidly downhill in the past few years. I'm now down to a bare minimum of football coverage (Monday Night Club is superb) and dipping into Breakfast and Drive.

    What a line-up there used to be - Fi Glover, Anita Anand, Simon Mayo. Since then the station has lost its way. The tabloid approach has increased, the obsession with celebrity a sure sign of dumbing down. Bacon has been unlistenable for years with his predictable line up of comedians I've never heard of and constant discussion of TV programmes I've never watched. Shelagh was great on Breakfast but her own show is like an extended Women's Hour / You and Yours - all medical and financial stuff. I might as well be on Radio 4.

    As I write this, I'm listening to Fighting Talk, which used to be one of the funniest things on radio. The wonders of webcam show me Jonathan Pearce, not cracking a smile, reading a script, with an atmosphere lacking all the anarchic ad-libbing humour of Colin Murray's year. Can't believe it, but the decline of FiveLive has sent me to TalkSport to listen to Colin's excellent weekday morning show.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Just now

    I've listened to 5 live since day one, and recently, It's becoming less and less. I don't care about radio awards 5 live has attained. This is just back slapping stuff for the presenters. In recent years 5 live has become 'Dumb' Dumber by the day. Poor presenting, has made the station unlistenable during some portions of the day. I'm not sure why it's happened, why presenters like Richard Bacon have become popular or how Rachel Burden became a presenter at all. Both are poor for different reasons. Burdon repeatedly mucks up 'Reading out loud' as she tries to read what is coming in on her computer screen. She coughs more times than is healthy and perhaps needs to visit the a doctor to find out why. Recently I witness Campbell asking a Russian spokesman about Russia stance on Gay people - Unbelievably - Campbell actually accused the Spokesperson of being Gay because he objected to Gay people. I was gobsmacked by such an asinine question. Maybe Campbell would feel differently if asked if short people should only be employed by the Circus, as he is such a short pants. Rightly, the spokesman shot him down eloquently. What an idiot. Richard Bacon has reduced afternoon 5 live to a long episode of a channel 4 magazine show. Nonsense feature like Chart the week, The Moan in. Dross, all of it. Bacon is a child, he has come up into media by appearing in shows like. 'Lets go in a supermarket and eat food from the shelves until thrown out' This kind of rubbish does not belong on national radio. Who is coming through? Who are the presenters of the future? If this is their benchmark, how can presenting maintain an acceptable level of coherence. It's dire, fortunately for 5 live the alternative are virtually non existent. Talk Sport is repugnant and Colin Murray should fit in perfectly 606 has become a comedy, where the presenters cut people off if they don't agree with what is being said. I'm sick of hearing extremely poor spoken English. There are "No 'Balls in sport presenting anymore' Rather we endure the sycophantic ramblings of Chapman, Payne and Pougatch - should have been team of solicitors huh? There is no inventiveness. The shows are predictable and the analysis is mind - numbingly -dull.

    I suppose I'll just continue tuning out whenever I feel myself grinding my teeth.


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