Controller Roger Wright on the cutbacks - and what was on in 1991
I have just been preparing my monthly note about our forthcoming programming and it seemed odd not to make some reference to the announcements that the BBC has just made. So so I thought I’d blog to explain our plans.
Our savings target for content spend is £1.6m, which is 4% of the station's total. We have taken the decision to protect the range and breadth of the station's output, not least its commitment to new work, but inevitably, therefore, we will have to reduce costs in some areas to deliver the required savings.
The bulk of our costs are in the areas of live and specially-recorded music and drama output so that's where we have to achieve our savings.
However we have selected our cost reduction very carefully in order to minimise the impact for our audience in the next few years.
Discovering Music has been reduced in length and will now be in its new shortened form in the future. The volume of output broadcast from the Ulster Orchestra will be reduced, as will the amount of specially recorded material for Hear and Now.
The spend on lunchtime concerts will be reduced and the rate of repeats increased; the cost of some live evening concerts will also be reduced, but with no impact on the station’s commitment to a live performance every weekday evening.
Radio 3 will see a reduction in drama volume, but will still broadcast at least 30 new drama productions every year and remain committed to new writing.
To protect the BBC Proms, no savings are proposed in this area.
Analysis of the BBC’s orchestras and the BBC Singers is underway to explore opportunities for savings, with proposals expected by the end of the year.
Radio 3 logo from 1991
With these announcements to prepare it has been another really busy week and for me it also included the pleasure of talking to Roger Bolton on Radio 4's Feedback. You will be able to hear the interview today and in its repeat on Sunday or via catch-up listening. I will have to wait until the broadcast to hear its edited form but I was fascinated by some of the feedback from listeners. After two weeks of soliciting comments, Roger told me that Feedback had received responses from 139 listeners, a disappointingly small number compared to the larger volume of communications we regularly receive on individual programmes on Radio 3 from listeners keen to interact with the station and have their voices and views heard.
I was told beforehand that there would be some questions about the playlist and amount of news on Breakfast and so, just by way of preparation, compared the schedule for Radio 3 20 years ago and was astonished by the contrast with today's programming.
I am not alone here in being proud of the heritage of the station and being intrigued by our history and past programmes and running orders. There is perhaps a radio programme on this subject!
I feel confident that readers of this blog will also want to know what I discovered.
So here is the schedule for the morning of Friday 4 October 1991:
6.35 Open University
6.55 Weather and News headlines
7.00 Morning Concert
Corelli: Violin Sonata
Handel: Italian Duet
Brahms: Double Concerto
J.Strauss: Blue Danube Waltz
Berlioz: Hungarian March
8.35 Composers of the week: Mozart (Brahms was the other composer of the week at 11.35pm)
There were three more 5-minute news bulletins later in the day at 1p.m., 7p.m. and 11.30pm
Here is the music we played last Sunday morning (with 2-3 minute news bulletins on the hour) in that same morning time slot:
Karlowicz: Returning Waves
Hummel: Rondo all'Ungherese
Glazunov: Concert Waltz no.1
Monk: Abide with Me
Mendelssohn: On Wings of Song
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto no.4
Sibelius: Chorus of the Winds from the Tempest
Mozart: Finale from Piano Trio in E major
Philips: O quam sauvis est
Bernstein: Candide Overture
Handel: Aria from Acis and Galatea
Prokofiev: Symphony no.1
Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata (first movement)
Elgar: Dream of Gerontius (closing section) (listener request)
Pachelbel: Suite in B flat major
Boulez: Notations 3 and 4
Bax: Music from Oliver Twist
The rest of that day in 1991 had no live music, included over 5 hours of repeats, 90 minutes of 'Mainly for Pleasure' and finished its broadcasting at 2.25am after 85 minutes of schools broadcasting.
It is certainly a schedule of a different age! I have had enormous fun checking my memory of Proms concerts against the reality of our online Proms database and I am now going to do the same with Radio 3. I have been listening since its early days in the late 60s and so back copies of the Radio Times will be my reading and memory jogging pleasure in the next few weeks!
- Find details of the BBC's DQF proposals
- Listen to Roger Wright on Radio 4's Feedback, 130pm, Friday 7 October