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20/02/2017
BBC Radio 4

    In the Telegraph critic Gillian Reynolds has written in praise of Radio 4. This follows on from last week's record listening figures for the station. Reynolds says that while there's so much happening in the news it's unsurprising that people want to know more but:

    "Even so, last Thursday's news that listening figures for the Today programme are at their highest ever was a shock. Aren't we constantly told that this is the age of citizen journalism, that Twitter, Facebook and blogs now reign supreme?"

    Further on, still on the subject of Today, she strikes a chord that some listeners may recognise:

    "In spite of the infuriating tendency of Evan Davis and Justin Webb to drop their voices on the final syllable of any significant name, Jim Naughtie's habit of asking questions as long as the tail of a rising kite, Sarah Montague's giggle, John Humphrys's habitual nipping at the nose of any interviewee, the perennial perkiness of the sports reporters, or the peculiar habit they all share of starting an interview with 'Umm...', we love Today."

    Elsewhere she picks out comedies like Cabin Pressure and the The Pickerskill Reports. But what she identifies as being key to the current success is the relationship Radio 4 has with its audience:

    "We trust Radio 4 to know its stuff, tell us the truth, respect us. It seldom disappoints. If it does, we switch off. Right now, it's a treasure trove."

    *

    Radio 4 boss Gwyneth Williams was interviewed in yesterday's Observer and talked about many things including the cut in short stories on Radio 4, the death of Nigel, her background in news and the changes on Sunday nights (while perhaps hinting at a racier past than one expects from a R4 controller):

    "Our research showed that on Sunday nights people feel a bit sad. I agreed with it, but then, perhaps I am just someone who never did her homework."

    *

    In the same paper the editorial focussed on the Archers with the bold opening statement:

    "Nigel did not die in vain. When Nigel Pargetter fell off the roof at his stately home Lower Loxley, The Archers received a surge of listeners."

    The paper goes on, saying:

    "Apart from the unfortunate Mr Pargetter, Radio 4 in general is in robust health...Whatever the cause, it's plain that a fatality works wonders in Ambridge. So who might be next for the chop?... Ruth, anyone?"

    The story featured on Sunday night's What the Papers Say. So who did the producers get to read out this item? No, really - it was Graham Seed, perhaps best known as Nigel Pargetter...

    *

    Finally, bad news for Madge in the Independent:

    "Her mantelpiece may be heaving with Grammys and Novello awards and she may have millions of fans worldwide but Madonna has failed to win a much tougher audience: Radio 4 listeners."

    The source of this chagrin?

    "The singer is one of many well-known musicians who have failed to make the grade in the British public's Desert Island Discs."

    Paul Murphy is the editor of the Radio 4 blog

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