Texting Tony Blair
When, if ever, is it right to tell the prime minister to FCUK off?
This is the dilemma that faced us after a tidal wave of texts hit us when we told listeners that we were interviewing the PM. Judging from the texts and other interaction we received, they're fired up about the state of the government: "Useless", "pathetic", "crap", and "incompetent" were four of the more common and most printable words associated with the recent stories over the Home Office, Education, the deputy PM's trousers and more.
So when we rolled in to do the PM off the back of the pensions story we wanted to reflect some of this dis-satisfaction. Our audience uses vernacular and slang language and it's something we feel pretty comfortable reflecting on air and in the way we talk, too.
One texter put it succinctly: "Tony Blair when are you going to FCUK off?"
Our interviewer put the very quote to him, along with context - sourced to the listener. Blair was stunned, muttered "that's unhelpful" and moved on - he sounded genuinely, we thought, wounded for the rest of the interview.
Many listeners thought we'd gone too far and clearly felt sorry for him - he's the prime minister after all, we should be more respectful. Lots were angry, while on 1Xtra (where the interview was also broadcast), there was a more supportive reaction. You can hear the interview for yourself by clicking here.
Dun-D-Man wrote to us: "I was impressed 1Xtra would have the guts to put such a graphic question forward to the PM that reflects the views shared by some listeners". Another wrote: "Fair play to her for asking dem questions."
It was clearly a section of our large audience that we'd offended, which we can analyse by age and background. It's interesting stuff and gives me food for thought in future - on how we do context, set-up and impact of the 'real listeners' questions' - but I'm convinced we need to keep robustly reflecting the audience back to those in power.
That's our job after all.