iPlayer Radio What's New?

Feedback - Having a view on the BBC

Friday 22 November 2013, 16:55

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

Tagged with:

Editor's Note: You can listen to Feedback online or download and keep.

Since many other presenters are weighing in with their views about the future shape of the BBC I wondered if I should give you mine. They are hardly revolutionary. But then I thought I had better be discreet.

As the presenter of Feedback I am not supposed to comment about the Corporation, simply be your advocate. However I know you would want me to say that Feedback should be on 52 weeks a year, that its presenter is grossly underpaid, and that all BBC Radio presenters, producers and executives should be obliged to come into the studio to answer your questions whether they want to or not.

On Air

I will dutifully ensure that those concerns, and any others you have, are conveyed to the appropriate authorities.
(By the way, thanks for your suggestions about where I should put my Dimbleby style tattoo. If they were printable I would outline them here).

Back to this week’s Feedback in which we discussed music programmes on Radio 4. Some listeners do not think there should be any at all. Others are concerned that musicians only agree to be interviewed when they have a new record out, and are never asked searching questions. Often pop stars are treated in a sycophantic manner, like royalty, say the critics. Hyperbole is the norm and the word ‘genius’ is so overused it has lost its meaning.

The Radio 4 series which gave rise to these concerns is ‘Mastertapes’, a five part series featuring Robbie Williams, David Crosby, Soul II Soul, Natalie Merchant from 10,000 Maniacs and Edwyn Collins. Congratulations if you recognised all five of them, let alone listened to their masterworks.

The producer is Paul Kobrak, and this is our feature.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash Installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content

Also this week, listeners asked why the prizes offered to raise money for Children in Need were auctioned rather than raffled, since it’s the rich who will usually win. I thought you might like to know which programmes are most valuable in the eyes of those listeners who bid to spend a day behind the scenes with them.

Woman’s Hour is worth £2,400
The Infinite Monkey Cage - £2,600
News Quiz - £3,303
Ramblings with Clare Balding - £3,505
The Shipping Forecast Masterclass - £5,100
The Today programme - £5,100
Test Match Special - £6,200

And way out in front - A Visit to Ambridge – for which the winner paid £7,500.

I would pay a year’s income to watch Alistair Cooke prepare and record a Letter From America.
Alas that is no longer possible.

Roger Bolton

Listen to the week’s Feedback

More Feedback blog posts

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Tagged with:


Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Please do not let them make Radio 4 just another Pop Radio channel. It is getting very hard to know if I am listening to Radio 1, Radio 2.(often Radio 3) Local Radio etc. Radio 4 used to be a safe refuge from Pop Music where over-amplified amateurs shout songs out of tune, with a background noise that sounds like a Victorian factory. If any of these "singer song writers" had any musical ambition they would learn to write items that could be sustained for more then 3 minutes and they would learn how to perform their creations properly.
    I would much prefer to hear music written by experts and performed by up to 60 fully trained musicians. But as real music has slipped to fourth place on Radio 3 I don't suppose that there is any chance of it on Radio 4. So please stick to intelligent speech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The question of pay is all relative. If the figures reported on Mark Thompson's pay at the New York Times are correct, then it would appear that he was some sort of charity worker when at the BBC!

    I have not listened to Mastertapes, but am concerned by the claims that Radio 4 is being used to promote the work of pop musicians. Anyone interested in listening to decent music at 11 pm can tune in to Radio 3. Should music programmes be banned from Radio 4, of course not. Should pop music programmes be banned from Radio 4, of course not. If my memory serves me well, contributors to Feedback couldn't get enough of Jeff Buckley's rendition of Purcell's Dido's Lament in the series Soul Music. Agh, but that's "real" music, pop is different! Anyhow, I greatly enjoy the Archive Hour a few weeks about the song Gloria by Van Morrison - "Wanna tell about my baby". I suppose many critics of music on Radio 4 will seize upon Morrison's sloppy use of English as yet another reason to keep the likes of Morrison off the channel. Some people just cannot be pleased.

    Is that £7,500 to bulldoze Ambridge? That would be a bargain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    On lyrics (Newlach’s criticism of ‘Gloria’), R4 broadcast a fascinating programme some years ago about the history of Tam Lin [1]. The Fairport version of the song contains the lyric: ‘as fast as go can she’. One would have to be tone deaf and only use ½ a dollop of hair conditioner/ hairwash not to get excited with that lyric. ‘as fast as she can go’ would rob the song of it potency.

    Richard Baker used to play quite a lot of Peter Dawson tracks (useful records if one enjoys galloping whilst pretending to be a horse) on ‘These you have loved’ (R4 Saturday night) and Mr Dawson was a pop singer. How come no one wrote to Chris Dunkley complaining about that? David Crosby is one of the greatest musicians of the last 100 years and a cultural icon, so he belongs on R4. Critics of Robbie Williams are just being snooty. It’s good to hear a little bit of Stoke-on-Trent on R4.

    I often find R4 infuriating, but I think the station does try to be fair over musical content. ‘Soul Music’ worries me occasionally and not sure ‘The Music Group’ worked. Conversely, last week’s ‘Something Understood’ concerning harmonics and resonance (friend or foe?) was top-class (boo-hoo-hoo, the programme didn’t mention the importance of the 3rd harmonic within the lives of genuine heavy power engineers). St Cecilia is getting loads of plugs lately and only a matter of time before she’s featured in IOT – sensible semi-colon to St Augustine. This week’s edition on Pocahontas was immensely interesting – fab subject for the programme and I wondered if Thomas Morris had been listening to Neil Young’s ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ (track 4). Frances Fyfield’s (can’t figure out why I enjoy her broadcasts so much) progs. about George Butterworth were riddled with interesting facts and a lot of the content of ‘The Unsent Letter of Erik Satie’ was new to me and a welcome addition to my musical dictionary. Loose Ends – an inherently south of England programme – has a fine record for presenting live bands. I caught ‘Local Natives’ tonight and they gave a glorious performance. The recording quality was also exceptional.

    P.S. I think people who enjoy pop music are probably more intelligent than classical music lovers. For example, it’s clear that Bridget St. John invented ‘Tweet of the Day’in 1969 [2] – 3mins into the track.

    PPS The recent R4 folk related programmes have also been exceptionally interesting.


    [1] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tam_Lin

    [2] See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLQSsn2TYBs (For reference purposes only)

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    BBC news, PLEASE stop plugging and spoiling other BBC programmes.
    This morning the 08:00 R4 news has just revealed some of the music and most of the issues discussed in the upcoming Desert Island Discs. David Milliband's appearance is hardly news, but more and more the BBC seems to need to promote its programmes within BBC news. Television news does this regularly, and it irritates the hell out of me, and now R4 is doing it too. Please stop!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    All over the radio4 listening world people are switching off because they hear pop music. It doesn't have to be pop to turn me and the set off. Doesn't anyone get it? Radio4 is for talk and discussion and listening. Music we can get elsewhere. Even Woman's HOur this morning had what might have been an interesting story but it was switched off as soon as the music hit my ears. Are you listening?


Comments 5 of 10


This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

In Our Time - Pocahontas

Thursday 21 November 2013, 18:34

Radio 4 quiz: Who killed Doctor Who?

Monday 25 November 2013, 17:14

About this Blog

Behind the scenes at Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra from producers, presenters and programme makers.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

Follow Radio 4

Follow BBC Radio 4 & BBC Radio 4 Extra on Twitter for programme highlights and interesting retweets. 

Woman's Hour Power List 2014

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
Woman's Hour Power List judges, 2014 Woman's Hour Power List judges, 2014


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