Friday 3 June 2011, 16:42
When I was growing up in Carlisle in the years after the war (no, not the Boer one) there was no local radio anywhere, let alone in that somewhat isolated city, 300 miles from London and eight miles south of the Scottish border.
We got our TV news from BBC Newcastle and later from Border Television as well. As the latter was actually based in Carlisle we felt more warmly towards it, but while the BBC gave us lots of news about the north east , which didn't interest us at all, Border told us a lot about southern Scotland which interested us even less.
So when BBC Radio Carlisle started it was warmly welcomed.
Its first offices were on a hilltop in the southern suburb of Harraby where the unfortunate highlanders who followed that dreadful man, Bonnie Prince Charlie, were executed by that equally dreadful man, 'Butcher' Cumberland. (Mind you a good song came out of it - The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, written in his cell in Carlisle castle by a condemned Scot). He took 'The high road' (was hung at Harraby), his lover took 'the low road', the A6, and he was back in Scotland before her, in spirit at least.
BBC Radio Carlisle has now become BBC Radio Cumbria and has a spanking new building just opposite the castle. Several feet below are the remains of the major Roman city, which lies just south of Hadrian's Wall.
I went there this week for Feedback to see whether the BBC's second most popular local radio station - Radio Jersey is the most popular in terms of percentage reach - is performing a vital public service.
As part of DFQ, the BBC's Delivering Quality First initiative, which has to find 20 per cent savings in the Corporation's spending over the next five years, possible cuts in local radio have been mooted.
One of the ideas that I have heard being discussed is that a number of local stations could share their afternoon programmes.
I took up these issues with the editor of BBC Radio Cumbria Nigel Dyson who had a maverick idea for saving money.
And also with Sue Carter who is the programme manager at Oxford-based Jack FM, a commercial station where they already are saving money as they only man their breakfast show. For the rest of the day it's automated music.
Do let me know where the BBC should look for savings in radio. Or on the other hand you might take the view that TV has more fat available for trimming.
Next week I'll be talking to the head of Radio 5 live. Do let me know what you'd like me to ask him.
Leave a comment on the blog or get in touch via the Feedback web site.
Roger Bolton is presenter of Feedback
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Thursday 2 June 2011, 18:27
Saturday 4 June 2011, 17:36