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Feedback: Bob Shennan

Friday 1 February 2013, 14:54

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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Editor's note: You can listen to Feedback online or download the programme - AI.

Roger Bolton Presenter of Feedback


When Michael Grade applied to be Chairman of the BBC, after the previous occupant and his Director General, Greg Dyke, had resigned, he realised he needed a new idea.

His flamboyant and optimistic personality would rally the Corporation's staff but he had to convince the Government he would "get the BBC's house in order".

(A long time ambition of all governments who tend to think BBC Chairmen soon go "native").

So, together with his long time adviser Peter Ibbotson, he came up with the idea of Service Reviews.

These would spell out exactly what was required of each of the Corporation's radio and television networks, and be yardsticks by which the success of their Controllers would be judged. The Governors, later Trustees, would not tell the professionals what programmes to commission but they would say what type of programmes were expected and what sort of audience each network should seek to attract.

Even the most successful, in audience terms, would not be exempt.

This week Radio 2 revealed its highest ever audience figures, over 15 million now listen each week, making it the most popular radio station anywhere in the UK and the bane of the commercial broadcasters' lives.

In 2010 the Trust published the network's Service Review which stated that Radio 2 "should use this scale and influence to take more creative risks and be more distinctive, particularly in daytime, even though this more ambitious approach carries with it the risk that audience numbers could fall".

Well as we've seen, they are higher than ever, so has the network been taking sufficient creative risks?

That Review also said "We have asked BBC management to address the recent decline in listeners aged over 65".

Some Feedback listeners think that the network's Controller, Bob Shennan, is not  going the right way in trying to achieve that.

He has recently changed the presenter of the folk programme from the venerable Mike Harding to Mark Radcliffe and moved the religious programme, Sunday Half Hour from  8.30pm in the evening to 6 in the morning, albeit extending it to an hour.

This week Mr Shennan came into the Feedback studio to answer some of those criticisms.

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Bob Shennan on criticisms of how he's addressing the decline in listeners aged over 65.

By the way, I have no inside information, but I think Bob Shennan is a good bet to be the next BBC Director of Audio and Music, ie the boss of all BBC network radio.

Do keep writing and telling us what we should put into Feedback.

You provide the bullets, we fire them (and convey laurel leaves as well of course).

Roger Bolton


Roger Bolton presents Feedback on Radio 4.

Listen to this week's Feedback
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    Comment number 1.

    "We have asked BBC management to address the recent decline in listeners aged over 65".'

    Well they die, don't they? Do they expect Bob Shennan to broadcast something that gives listeners eternal life?

    I do not listen much to Radio 2 but it seems reasonable that if the listener figures for a particular programme have halved it is incumbent upon the BBC to act out of its duty to licence fee payers. It is unfortunate that a small number of Christians are lashing out over the minor change Bob Shennan has made to the schedule, but as he said he has to put things on that both young and old listeners want to listen to. It would appear that he has taken reasonable steps to accommodate the dwindling audience interested in Sunday Half Hour.

    I do not see why Clare Balding should be ruled out of presenting a mainstream programme funded by licence fee payers on the grounds that she is not known for expressing religious views. She is known as a good journalist and that should be enough. If a God botherer were at the helm it would most likely be another dwindling audience.

    On women, unless I am imagining things I heard a Jo, a Phillipa and a Felicity presenting news programmes this week on Radio 4.

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    Comment number 2.

    On Women . Could a member of the Womans Hour Editorial team explain why the Friday edition comes from Salford ? Do you maintain an office there just for this once weekly episode ? Do the presenters etc working on this episode pay for their own travel to get to the Studios ? Could Radio 4 explain the editorial ethos as to why this physical change of location happens ??? What next , The Archers Friday episode will be recorded in Brighton or Belfast !! Why ??


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Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.


See the latest on our blog


Find out about this year's panel and theme