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The Today programme: The "radio show that one in eight of us now tune in to"

Thursday 26 May 2011, 18:45

Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Senior Producer, A&Mi

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Jon Henley's written a profile of Radio 4's Today programme in The Guardian:

The Today programme is, of course, a legend, but now we know it has never been more popular: the latest figures put its audience during the first three months of this year at 7.03 million, 600,000 more than last year and an absolute (if slightly controversial) record.

This seemed like enough reason to publish a few pictures from the earlier days of the programme.

Robert Craddock, producer, John Sykes and Maureen Milton-Dinnis, studio manager from 1959

Caption reads: "Today : 1959 07/05/1959 © BBC picture shows - L-R: Robert Craddock, producer, John Sykes and Maureen Milton-Dinnis, studio manager. The comperes view from the studio into the control cubicle, as the time-check clock shows that the programme is about to finish."


Jenni Murray, John Humphrys and Brian Redhead

Caption: "Today : 1986 (Radio 4) 16/12/1986 © BBC Picture shows the new line up for Radio 4s early morning Today programme (l-r) Jenni Murray ; John Humphrys and Brian Redhead."


John Timpson, Jack de Manio and Pat Simmons, on the Today Programme, 1971

Caption: "John Timpson, Jack de Manio and Pat Simmons, on the Today Programme, 1971 14/05/1971 BBC Library file, dated 14-05-1971. TIM, alias Pat Simmons, tells the time on the Today Programme, presented by Jack de Manio (left), and co-presenter John Timpson."


Robert Robinson pours a drink for co-presenter John Timpson at Robert Robinsons farewell breakfast party

Caption (with original typos): "Today (R4) 05/07/1974 © BBC Picture shows - Robert Robinson pours a drink for co-presenter John Timpson at Robert Robinsons farewell breakfast part on Friday 5th July, the day he left BBC Radio 4s 'Today' programme. Des (Desmomd) Lynam, occasional co-presenter of the programmew, looks on. 'Today', Radios 4s regukar early morning news programme, can be heard every day except Sunday."

Paul Murphy is the acting editor of the Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 1.

    For how long, on average, does each of those 7.03 million listeners actually listen? In my case it's about 45 minutes (not contiguous).

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 3.

    7 million might tune in, but how much do they actually hear? There's so much chit-chat amongst presenters, and interuptions of guests, and stalling and mistakes when reading the papers, and giggling ... not the programme it once was!

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    Comment number 4.

    I could never understand why the Today programme axed its very interesting – and popular - listener led messageboards. The board was populated by personnel with far more experience than some of the alleged authorities featured on the programme (practising engineers, scientists, medical practitioners, hair stylists, prison officers….)

    Sadly, the Today programme has never been so inherently southern – and more specifically Metropolitan focussed (1). The grave mistake made by the R4 rulers was not to appoint Ms. Winifred Robinson as a permanent presenter. I study R4 presenters with the resolution of an electron microscope and Ms. Robinson fitted the Today programme like a glove. Rightly or wrongly, several of the presenters sound disturbingly posh and patronising – and of course the programme has an Oxbridge presence which appears to be mandatory within R4 these days. What happened to radio journalists with hands on experience such as the late Mr. John Timpson? I was also saddened when Ms. MacGregor spoke about how a former Today presenter had treated her – ‘A Word in Edgeways’ was my favourite 2215hrs Saturday radio programme as a youngster and one of the reasons why I started tuning into R4.

    I still think the late William Hardcastle was the king of news/current affairs’ programmes. The Today programme always adopts the radio equivalent of an ILS 3 degree glide slope when landing the programme. Mr. Hardcastle would have listeners panicking in their chairs, wondering how he was going to say: ‘….and that was the World at One Thirty’ in 2 seconds……but he always succeeded. A broadcasting genius who clearly had a love of square waves!

    Notes

    (1) Did anyone notice how lost Mr. Davis sounded when he presented one edition of ‘The Bottom Line from Manchester’?

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    Comment number 5.

    I've listened for over 30 years and it's still the best of the offerings on the radio in the morning. I would however prefer a bit more actual news and a little less of the art discussions, there are plenty of other programmed across the BBC devoted to the arts, I do hope this is not off topic.

 

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