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Today on Feedback; Your questions for the R4 Controller

Friday 22 July 2011, 14:43

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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John Humphrys and James Naughtie during a broadcast of Today

Editor's note: You can leave your questions for Roger to put to the Radio 4 Controller on next week's Feedback in the comments on this blog post - PM.

Just after 4am in the Today office at BBC Television Centre in west London.

The programme team has been working since eight the previous evening. The journalists have five hours to go and coffee cups litter the tables fighting for space with every conceivable newspaper and magazine. Arguably the last three hours are the most important, when they are dog tired but have to be at the top of their game for the programme's transmission.

Each three-hour Today programme has around 100 items, some of which will bite the dust if there is a breaking or developing story. Producers soon learn the art of standing down an interviewee, and of phoning up another at some unearthly hour.

This morning's presenters, Sarah Montague and John Humphrys slip into the office, the latter having parked his bike outside.

I am slightly astonished that the BBC is happy for such a central figure to be cycling in the dark in west London at such an early hour, but JH is overflowing with energy as if he has consumed half-a-dozen espressos already.

Enter stage left a Feedback listener, Francesca Fenn, an avid Today listener , who has been given an access all areas pass to find out what goes on behind the scenes. I would like to tell you that she is accompanied by Feedback's presenter as well as its producer, but I'm afraid I didn't get there until after six am, for budgetary reasons of course.

The vast majority of the audience, and there are more than seven million of them , are a pretty vociferous lot, so I was not short of questions to put to the Today editor when I interviewed him a couple of days later.

First, here is a snapshot of what goes on behind the scenes at the apparently smooth running show.

Our thanks to listener Francesca Fenn who has gone back to bed.

Two days later when I talked to the Editor of Today, Ceri Thomas, the News International hacking scandal was beginning to quieten down.

Our thanks to everyone at the Today programme for placing no restrictions whatever on where we could go.

Next week I'll be talking to the Controller of Radio 4 about the schedule changes she has made, one of which is to move this programme from its Friday slot at 1.30 to 4.30pm in the afternoon.

Do let me know what you want me to ask her. You can leave a comment below.

Roger Bolton presents Feedback

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    Comment number 1.

    Yes! I'd like the Controller of radio 4 to account for why most of her presenters have such poor questioning skills. With the exception of Jenni Murray, almost all of the rest ask closed, leading questions, or make long, rambling leading statements. To experience probably the worst of these, listen to Kirsty Young, Clare Balding, Fi Glover, or Jane Garvey. It is extraordinary that these individuals represent probably the most well-known broadcasting corporation in the world, but lack the ability to ask an open question.

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    Comment number 2.

    Can we rejoice yet?
    ... in the total retirement of Ann Atkins from her instant switch-off 7.50 a.m. occasional broadcasts?
    (otherwise the Today programme has only minor errors in style and content.)

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    Comment number 3.

    I am in agreement with those listeners who have contacted Feedback to express their outrage at the Controller's decision to axe Americana. Americana with its mixture of expert presenters and excellent guests has revealed to listeners many interesting and fascinating facets of the United States (not all favourable). It bodes ill for the future if the axe is being taken to high quality programmes.

    Why have you decided to axe a programme that is praised by so many listeners whilst doing nothing about Thought For The Day which is detested by a countless number of listeners?

    Do you think that you decision to devote almost an entire day to readings from the King James Bible in January was a good use of licence-fee payers money and will we have more days on Radio 4 devoted to religion?

    With most people in the country having no active interest in religion should Radio 4 still be broadcasting a religious service every Sunday morning at licence-fee payers' expense?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    Why is there soooooo much music on Radio 4? It's a SPEECH channel!! There are bursts of music all over the place. There are half witted people who have never read anything more insightful than the Melody Maker using long words about punk and rap! "How disco changed the world" - oh please, Radio 4 used to be for Grown Ups, what does GW think Radio 2 is for?

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    Comment number 5.

    Why are there so many test card programmes on Radio 4? Programmes where Someone Singh Koli, or Lenny Henry or that Yorkshire poetaster bloke (see, you know who I mean!) fetch up and witter about trivia for 15 minutes just to pad out the space between programmes. Every association a bunch of wordwonks can come up with on some given random topic, inevitably including half a dozen songs. When there are switch off programmes like this people forget to switch on again and miss interesting programmes.

 

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