January 1985 my parents were visiting a friend at the Royal Free hospital
when my mother found out that James Cameron was in the same ward and
had no visitors. They went to talk to him.
genuinely delighted to meet these strangers and they talked about politics.
James was scathing about a number of politicians…I promised I
won’t name them. He regretted the lack of intellectual backbone
behind much of politics of the time and apparently spoke well of only
was thrilled to meet a man he so admired and recounted to us all how
interesting the conversation had been, so much so that he sent cousin
Monty to visit James the next day to continue the conversation.
no idea if James enjoyed the conversations as much as my parents, but
even today, at the age of 86, my father remembers it.
James Cameron was so sick he was still full of curiosity, humanity and,
above all, he cared.
making speeches so, when Hugh Stephenson asked me to do this lecture,
I said no.
ever persistent, somehow convinced me that I had no choice…and
I think one reason I fell for his argument was that all my life James
Cameron has represented the journalism that I believe radio should /
must aspire to.
one of the first journalists I knew by name. My parents read him. I
heard him on the radio, saw him on the television, on programmes like
The Way We Live Now.
values my parents believed in – integrity, honesty, and a hunger
was also the first journalist I was conscious of working as well on
television as on radio…as Charles Wheeler, Allan Little and Fergal
Keane do today.
of us who grew up in the '60s we learnt much about the world through
James Cameron's eyes. India, Berlin, Korea, his TV series - One Pair
of Eyes - took us there.
his contributions to programmes on the Aldermaston March, on the debates
in Britain for and against the retention of the nuclear bomb. Here was
a man who had seen it and we listened.
him meet Ho Chi Minh, interview Albert Schwietzer. Be amazed by Schweitzer's
attitude to Africans and his intellectual arrogance, describing him
as "a synthesis of Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler."
Cameron went all over the world, wrote about and broadcast on the human
side of stories and in doing so educated us all.
one of the means by which he did that - the BBC - is 80. We celebrated
with a concert in Birmingham two weeks ago. That celebration was really
a birthday party for radio in the UK.
radio that has reached a grand old age.
still healthy, or is radio now in its dotage, sliding gracefully, but
inexorably into oblivion?
be used to the same powerful effect today as James Cameron used it for
after all, the age of digits not valves and crystals - the digital revolution.
I am using
the word 'revolution' loosely, but to many we are going through a revolution
in communications unlike any other change.
plethora of choice, new services and platforms, what role is there for
those of us in radio?
been at the BBC for years and for many of those years I have heard people
argue that some of radio's resources should be diverted into making
BBC Television better, now arguing into interactive, into online.
who work in radio that is what they fear digital means - a monster sucking
up all the resources that go into programme making as we know it.
the BBC when James Cameron was at the height of his powers.
him many times coming in to record an interview for The World At One
or for the PM programme.
programmes in the 1970s had come to represent radio's commitment to
only just beginning to change from the comfortable magazine format presented
by Jack De Manio.
The World at One, with its maverick editor, Andrew Boyle, and its brilliant
presenter, William Hardcastle, that forged the way for a new kind of
robust broadcast journalism on radio and placed journalism at the heart
of Radio 4.
there had been other good programmes before, like Radio Newsreal with
a global stance, and there had been great broadcasters, but with The
World at One there came a daily current affairs programme that challenged
politicians, pulled no punches, set out to enable the listener to have
the tools to make up his or her mind.
irreverent, and those of us who worked on it felt it was fearless in
its approach to both the political establishment and the BBC establishment.
ways the arrival of The World at One in 1965 was a mini revolution in
Newsroom provided a Rolls Royce service of straight news coverage, but
it was never proactive, never chased a story and suddenly there was
this upstart, taking pleasure in making them seem out of touch.
one occasion, during the eight week long postal strike in 1975, when
the programme team let the newsroom say on the One O'Clock News that
the strike was continuing, then William Hardcastle introduced a pre-recorded
interview with the Post Office workers leader Tom Jackson, declaring
the strike had been called off. The World at One had not told the newsroom.
Andrew Boyle untold pleasure to make his news colleagues seem stupid.
Imagine if that had happened now over the firemen’s strike? I
doubt Kevin Marsh. the present Editor, would have been appointed next
Editor of Today.
the internecine warfare in Broadcasting House what The World at One
did establish was a form of current affairs programme that influenced
the creation of Newsnight ten years later, and even Channel 4 News in
what radio has done throughout its 80 years. It has influenced television,
even in all those years when television was perceived to be the senior
years have seen extraordinary changes in the broadcasting landscape
and radio has constantly had to adapt to remain relevant. But adapting
is always painful and rarely greeted with applause at the outset.
when I look back over the 30 years I have spent in broadcasting we seem
to have reeled from one battle to the next, most of them internal to
battles forged, shaped the radio we know today. If they had not taken
place radio, would I believe, have become a cosy, self-satisfied, irrelevant
partner in public service broadcasting, and radio in the UK would have
become more like radio in the States where serious challenging speech
radio scarcely exists.
joined the BBC the place was in turmoil because of some report called
Broadcasting in the Seventies.
On my first
day in Broadcasting House someone asked me to sign a protest sheet condemning
this piece of cultural vandalism.
in the Seventies, like so many policy documents that followed it, was
prompted by problems of scarcity - scarcity of funds and scarcity of
cutting the cost of music / the orchestras in the BBC, and opening more
local radio stations – the first, Radio Leicester had opened in
in the Seventies also put forward a plan on how radio should be organised
for the last quarter of the 20th century.
to the creation of four of the national radio networks we have to today.
It led to radio networks that were coherent.
to the ending of the Third Programme, the Music Programme and the Study
session and the creation of a Radio 3 concentrating wholly on music
and the arts.
became a speech network and the present structure of BBC local radio
I think Broadcasting in the Seventies was a visionary document, but
in 1969 the report was seen as anything but visionary – both within
the BBC and outside.
it or not, the Sun supported an increase in the radio licence fee with
the headline "BBC needs money, not an axe…….it deserves
a roll of drums from every BBC orchestra while there is still time."
Well, it was in the days before Murdoch!
Campaign for Better Broadcasting - the CBB - was set up with members
including Sir Adrian Boult, Henry Moore, and Jonathan Miller who declared
the document to be "a masterpiece of devious and subtle generalisation…a
capitulation to accountants logic."
signed a memo to the DG, Charles Curran, criticising the changes claiming
"there will not be enough adventurous broadcasting, risks will
not be taken."
As a trainee
I had no idea who was right, but what was clear was that people cared
passionately about their radio, programme-makers and listeners alike.
lose its creative nerve in 1970? I think not.
specialised Radio 3 continued to commission new contemporary music,
to do Shakespeare, continued to do programmes on ideas, use contributors
like Sir Isaiah Berlin and produce series like Beowulf. It still does
4, before Broadcasting in the Seventies, had been a mixed speech and
into a wholly speech station, created a radio station able to allow
journalism to flourish, current affairs to have a central role, drama,
comedy, science, the Arts all had space.
Tonight, PM and Start The Week all started in 1970.
the finest radio series were commissioned - The Long March of Everyman,
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Lord of the Rings. This was a
rich mix of programmes.
Radios 1 and 2 shared programming for much of the day.
Radio 1 and Radio 2 were able to develop as two totally separate entities
for their different audiences.
had realised that the music of Bing Crosby was on a different planet
from that of the Rolling Stones.
in the Seventies achieved was an audience focused shape for public service
radio. But did it keep radio at the heart of the BBC?
was one thing else that pervaded the document - the belief that we were
in the television age. I quote:
are still some fields in which it (radio) has a unique role" the
report grudgingly admitted, but went on to say "for most people
radio is now mainly for daytime."
of radio's ambition explains perhaps why there grew among some executives
in the BBC a belief that radio was somehow no longer central to the
future of the BBC, and by the turn of the century would be a dead medium.
being told in no uncertain terms by one senior TV Production Head in
the early '80s that radio would no longer exist by 2000 and he told
all the radio producers in his region that unless they moved to television
they had no lasting career.
I reeled from battle to battle in the BBC.
that is seared on my memory was in 1977 when the then Controller of
Radio 4, Ian McIntyre, decided to slash all Radio 4's news and current
affairs programmes - Today, World at One, PM and The World Tonight -
because he did not believe they could sustain quality. There was uproar.
late 1970s those programmes had become 'appointment to listen', a mecca
for the day by day arguments of politicians.
they were not Analysis, but they did not see that as their role.
cut the Today programme into two half hours – 7.00 to 7.30am,
8.00 to 8.30am – and PM and The World Tonight, to half an hour
war - and most of the battle took place in the diary columns of the
some of you remember the programmes that took their place. Up To The
Hour, Serendipity? No?
Current Affairs are central to Radio 4 in 2002. They proved central
to Radio 4 in 1977/8.
coverage, comprehensive coverage, an international perspective, without
these things public service radio would be the poorer.
Current Affairs won that battle. If it had not, I do not believe Radio
4 would have survived as the force it is today.
programmes restored, Today was able to become the leading current affairs
programme across all media. Radio was about more than daytime.
the last three decades quality daily current affairs has been key to
keeping radio central to broadcasting in the UK.
started The World This Weekend in 1967, it was the only current affairs
broadcast on Sundays.
the trend of in depth, 'sunday supplement' coverage - taking the burning
topic of the week and studying it, dissecting it from all angles, preferably
with the main protagonists.
editing The World This Weekend just before Christmas in 1985. December
22nd to be precise. It was during the Westland Saga.
in Cabinet between Leon Brittan, the Trade Secretary and Michael Heseltine,
the Defence Secretary about Westland Helicopters and whether the UK
should buy European or American had become an embarrassment for the
Heseltine wanted a European solution. The Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher,
and Leon Brittan were reported to be favouring the American bid. Although
they all publicly expressed the opinion that it was up to the shareholders
/ the company to decide. In fact there had been a Cabinet agreement
not to express any preference, so all the arguments took place in the
o’clock on Saturday night we got the first editions of the Sunday
papers and the top story in the Observer, from Adam Raphael, was headlined
'Brittan's shock Westland memo', quoting a Cabinet minute, from 4 October,
where it stated that Leon Brittan had said a European consortium would
be 'preferable'. That seemed to indicate he had at some stage swapped
in a bid for the Trade Secretary Leon Brittan.
papers were also full of stories from friends of the Trade Secretary
claiming that Michael Heseltine was putting 'a pistol to the head of
the Westland Board.'
in a bid to the Defence Department for Michael Heseltine.
evening the Trade Press Office rang to say Leon Brittan was willing
to do an interview down the line at nine o'clock next morning.
of Westland also agreed to an interview. Although we had not heard from
Michael Heseltine we had a good programme.
we recorded the interview with Leon Brittan, who categorically denied
the Observer story. "It's not true" he said, describing it
as "Christmas entertainment".
days the presenter of The World This Weekend did a live trail at ten
o'clock on Sunday morning. So on this occasion the presenter, Gordon
Clough, made Leon Brittan denying the newspaper story the sole topic
of his trail.
in our office rang almost immediately. It was Michael Heseltine himself.
He would come on the programme. Indeed he would drive himself to Oxford,
so he could do the interview live. He wanted to hear Leon Brittan before
he did his interview.
clandestine briefings were about to be put on the record.
Gordon Clough did another live trail saying we had both Leon Brittan
and Michael Heseltine on the record.
the phone rang in our office. This time it was Bernard Ingham, the Prime
Minister's Press Secretary.
not have both Leon Brittan and Michael Heseltine on the same programme,
I was told.
that both Ministers had agreed to be interviewed and Brittan had already
back, five minutes later, and said Brittan had withdrawn permission
for us to use the interview.
out that since Mr Brittan had not complained when recording the interview,
or in its immediate aftermath, we believed we had a right to run it
and would do so.
then said he would go higher in the BBC and we would, he predicted,
be instructed not to broadcast.
our breath. The phone rang again. This time it was Brittan himself.
He demanded the interview be withdrawn. We stuck to our right to broadcast.
hour later my boss, John Wilson, rang me and asked what was going on.
Why was Ingham demanding the interview be withdrawn? We explained and
John, then Editor of News and Current Affairs Radio, backed our decision.
it was 12.30, and we were near transmission. Yet another phone call
came from Bernard Ingham, this time telling us that Michael Heseltine
would not be doing the live interview.
the Defence Ministry and they said as far as they knew he still would
be doing it, that he was on his way to Oxford but they had not been
able to contact him.
the line to the studio in Oxford and waited….would he or would
Heseltine arrived at our Oxford Studio. We told him Bernard Ingham had
said he would not be broadcasting.
you broadcasting the Leon Brittan interview?" he asked. "Yes"
we said. "Then I am going on air too", he boomed. And went
into the studio.
started. The usual headlines, then news bulletin. Again the phone rang,
this time in our Oxford Studio.
Heseltine, it's Mr Ingham on the phone for you", said the Studio
him I am not coming out of this studio to talk to him, until I have
done the interview", came the reply.
well you know it, he resigned a month later.
that story because, well it's fun, and I and my colleagues have never
told all the ins and outs before, but really I tell it because stories
like that are going on in our radio programme offices still today.
why Today has an audience of over 6 million listeners. That's why radio
current affairs programmes are thriving, they are relevant.
has not been easy ensuring they have remained so and I think it is a
challenge to ensure they continue to be so.
On a number
of occasions in the last ten years radio has faced uncomfortable challenges
– when bi-media was introduced in News, when James Boyle rescheduled
Radio 4, and in the summer of 1996 when John Birt radically changed
the structure of the BBC.
the Managing Directors of Television and Radio no longer sat at the
top table of the BBC. Instead they reported to, and were represented
by, the Chief Executive of Broadcast.
in BBC Radio and BBC Television suddenly found that their world had
been turned upside down as they had become part of a new bi-media division
this mean for radio?
18 new Heads of Department appointed only one was from radio.
producers now found themselves in huge bi-media departments where the
local management, expert in the cost of television programmes - between
£50,000 and some £500,000 per programme - could not see
the point of putting similar effort into gaining a commission for a
radio programme only costing £5000.
split, as it became known, led to departments declaring war on each
other, as they battled for commissions to survive. Science would try
to get Religion’s programmes and vice versa.
moved from News to become Director of Radio, in January 1999, the impact
the new structures had made shocked me.
round every production department and the story was the same.
felt they were drowning in huge departments, where the managers, however
good, were overwhelmed with the problems of television and knew little
the uncertainty led to safe programming and abandonment of risk. Why
risk a challenging idea which might not be commissioned, if a formulaic
one guaranteed success? At least you kept your job.
someone to do a study of how commissioning programmes was working and
he found that each producer in the Drama department spent an average
of 14 weeks of the year working up proposals - 90% of which were never
radio was affected. The producers of Radio 1 programmes worked to a
Head of Music Entertainment, who could use their funds to finance television
programmes if he so wished.
was true of Radios 2 and 3. No other radio organisation in the world
was organised in this way.
were some winners and some of the new structures might have been right
for television - although I doubt that - but I do know that radio was
left fragmented and unintentionally marginalized.
changes had followed similar ones in News.
had been introduced there in 1992. The concept came to dominate thinking
in BBC News as it faced increasing competition both globally and domestically
from CNN and from Sky News.
– the idea that radio and television can be combined, that News
producers and reporters can be in the same team - was not new.
was new, but if you go back to when television started properly after
the war, News reporters worked for both media until the demands of television
called for dedicated teams and they were seperated.
years that followed, radio management invested considerable sums in
Radio News and Current Affairs, in correspondents around the world.
were two correspondents in Moscow, two in Washington, one in New York.
There were correspondents in all the western capitals of Europe , in
Eastern Europe, and throughout the Middle East.
were correspondents in India, Mark Tully of course, correspondents in
South Africa and East Africa. In the eighties they added Peking with
Philip Short and Tokyo with William Horsley. This was a formidable newsgathering
the years radio invested in a raft of domestic specialist correspondents.
The list included education, health, social affairs, the arts, community
relations, defence, legal, science, industrial, media, economic.
depth to current affairs programmes and some presented specialist programmes
on Radio 4, helping build programmes like File on Four, Law In Action,
Analysis, as well as Today.
was not true of television when John Birt joined the BBC in 1987.
a television service with only one correspondent on the mainland of
Europe, in Moscow, and three correspondents in the States.
was rightly determined to improve television's newsgathering capability
radio's extensive network of foreign correspondents and its specialists
at home with television's would surely be a better way for BBC News
to face the world.
like Charles Wheeler warned of a treadmill, where reporters would never
have time to go out a find stories, but become slaves to agency copy.
siren voices were not heeded when reporters and correspondents were
merged into one department and, at a stroke, television gained a formidable
foreign newsgathering capability.
were benefits for both media. Reporters and correspondents long lost
to radio began broadcasting on the wireless again and re-discovering
its joys and impact.
one correspondent, after his first feature had been broadcast on Today,
discovering that a lot of people listen to radio intently. He received
more feedback from his audience for that one piece, than he had received
for years appearing on the Nine O’clock News.
the BBC's Business Editor, told the present Controller of Radio 4, Helen
Boaden, that had been what surprised about radio. Instant feedback.
could the concept go?
people arguing that it could go a very long way indeed. One senior manager
suggested that one team could edit simultaneously the Six O'Clock News
on both television and radio! A view not shared by any in radio production
and fortunately by few in television.
followed newsgathering and also become bi-media, and a few years later
Radio News was moved to Television Centre, so Newsnight and The World
Tonight shared in the same open plan office, Breakfast News and Today
would emerge, some believed, and would ensure that the BBC spoke with
teams did not agree and neither did I. In my opinion Today has little
in common with Breakfast News.
all this mean for the listeners, our licence payers?
pictures, conveys images, gets inside your head, stimulating your imagination.
And it takes time to acquire those skills. And great radio reporting
uses sound to convey the sense of place.
war reporters - the Richard Dimblebys, Frank Gillards, Wynford Vaughan
Thomases - set standards that reporters on radio and television have
tried to live up to ever since.
great writers, chroniclers, surveying the events that engulfed them,
telling their audiences what they saw in front of them.
did that regularly on radio. It is a skill still vital for today.
give numerous examples over the years, of that blend of sound and word.
Brian Hanrahan, counting them out and counting them in, in the Falklands
War. Mike Wooldridge reporting from the famine in East Africa, or Allan
Little from Yugoslavia and Fergal Keane from South Africa.
words, sound - radio. For radio to soar, it must have the skill to exploit
of the rigid bi-media years left radio, for a time, lacking some of
those skills and confidence too.
of the fears of correspondents and journalists like Charles Wheeler
were realised, as evidence grew of the staggering burden on some correspondents.
worked out, that taking all the television and radio programmes, he
was expected to service over one hundred different outlets.
of reporters in the regions started the TUFTY Club. Too Ugly For Television.
the BBC's Media Correspondent, Torin Douglas, summed it up in The Times
in December 2000 saying: "Those who predicted that radio would
take second place have sometimes been proved right. Despite the undoubted
influence and size of the BBC's radio audience, particularly at breakfast
time, television had first pick of correspondents."
radio is about painting pictures, television is about shooting them.
So in 2000,
News – the first to embrace bi-media – became the first
to dismantle much of it.
departments were once again split into radio and television. News recognised
that radio and television had different needs and needed different solutions.
that year, when Greg Dyke restructured the rest of the BBC, all the
radio music departments were re-integrated with their radio stations.
past two years much of the old Radio Division has been restored –
with its technical staff and factual production departments back with
the rest of radio.
the bi-media years much of the passion and controversy surrounding the
BBC was inspired by radio.
does that passion emerge more strongly than if someone tries to tamper
with Radio 4.
I can still
remember the bruising the Controller of Radio 4, Michael Green, got
when he moved Woman's Hour from 2.00pm to 10.30am. Poor man.
on a walking holiday with his wife in the mountains of Andulicia a few
years later, and in a nice log cabin, having drinks with a couple they
had befriended, he admitted he ran Radio 4.
immmediately pushed back her chair and pointed at him. "You're
the man who moved Woman's Hour" she declared. He ran for cover.
1998, when the new Controller of Radio 4, James Boyle, imposed wholesale
change to the network it was not surprising he encountered hostility
on a scale rarely seen in the BBC.
your friend. It is the soundtrack to your life. When it changes, it
affects your life.
was changed at once. It was too much for the producers and too much
for the audience. Many switched off.
was poor, some of the new magazine programmes were just not good enough.
Some of the producers failed to understand their audiences. There were
too many substandard quizzes and even Today did not seem to know how
to fill its extra hour effectively.
House in its first few months sounded shallow. Moving the Archers 17
minutes meant fans were missing the latest dastardly behaviour by Brian
only four years ago, but now, as many of the problems have been addressed,
some of those programmes have already become classics - John Peel's
Home Truths, Front Row, Broadcasting House.
4 is in tune with its listeners again.
Comedy is once again thriving and influencing television. Only last
week Dead Ringers followed Alan Partridge, Goodness Gracious Me and
The League of Gentlemen to BBC2.
80 year old radio is not a bruised and damaged beast.
per cent of the UK population listen to radio every week - that's 44
share is 51.6%. That's up from 46% five years ago.
has one of the fastest uptakes of digital television in the world, but
radio is thriving, with more listening than ever before, almost 25 hours
a week per person.
overtaken television as the most used medium in the UK. So much for
the doom mongers of the '80s – radio is in rude health.
radio contributed 46% of all viewing and listening to the BBC –
now it contributes 54%.
we still need a publicly funded radio broadcaster?
beginning of this year, a nationwide survey of just over a thousand
people asked their views on radio. Ninety-one percent said it was important
for the UK to continue to have public service radio in the future.
thought that public service radio should be informative, educational
and entertaining, catering for all age groups and tastes.
thought public service radio should only broadcast material that cannot
be found elsewhere. Not much support for BBC Radio to be confined to
52% were aware the TV licence funded BBC Radio. And that fell to 31%
amongst 16 to 24 year olds!
So in 2002,
there is overwhelming support for a broad range of services from BBC
Radio, even if there is little understanding as to how it is financed.
are no justification for existence. Radio must earn its right to exist
daily, by the programming it offers to its listeners.
never subscribed to a definition that public service radio should be
about market failure. I think Radio must have range, it must have ambition,
but it also has a duty to contribute to culture – both popular
the society which creates it, celebrates it, comments on it, even satirises
took charge of Radio, I said that I believed, "enabling listeners
to gain access to the music of their choice, setting that music in context,
opening their minds to other forms of music, is as important to a vibrant
society as an understanding of the minutiae of politics." I still
must take risks. Perhaps sometimes we are too safe. But I think public
service radio can lead the way.
often does, by championing of new bands. With its commitment to regular
coverage of politics on a music station. Last week a group of teenagers
were able to question Tony Blair on the network for 25 minutes.
Local Radio did last year with its coverage of Foot and Mouth giving
its audience a voice at a time of much personal tragedy.
Radio 4 must always do.
service radio is to rise ever upwards and not become the albatross many
once feared, it must continue to produce programming not heard anywhere
is Farming Today, whose team has broken more stories about our approach
to food and mass farming than any other journalists – its coverage
of BSE and Foot and Mouth has been essential for an informed piublic.
was File on Four's examination of how fair the British judicial system
is to mothers accused of killing or harming their bablies. A programme
so disturbing that television are doing a follow up.
Bragg produces it week in week out on In Our Time discussing topics
like the nature of good and evil.
season Radio 4 has just run on the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was comprehensive,
surprising and enabled new generations to know how close we came to
a third world war.
adventurous and creative enough?
If I look
at some of the things we did this year on the anniversary of 11 September
we did not lack ambition.
Live a 24 hour broadcast came not only from New York and Washington,
but also from Kabul in Afghanistan, from Peshawar in Pakistan, from
Ramallah in Palestine, from Ben Yahuda Street in Jerusalem.
carried debates throughout the day on the role of women, with Fatama
Ghulani from the Afghan Woman's Council in Kabul looking at how much
had changed over ten months and arguing with women in Ramallah who were
more concerned with their freedom from occupation than with women's
the Asian Network you could hear an entirely different perspective.
They ran a three hour programme from New York, but they did not concentrate
on Bush, on the reading of names at Ground Zero. They talked to groups
like 'Muslims against Terror', an organisation established after 9/11
to educate Americans in the peaceful nature of Islam.
to the Director of the Sikh Coalition of New York, about the fact that
a Sikh was the first to die as a result of a hate crime post 9/11, and
they talked to an organisation representing the forgotten community
of New York – Bangladeshis.
Eight Bangladeshis were killed in the World Trade Centre – far
more than the Embassy admits because most were illegal immigrants, single
males with no family to report them missing.
Over on Radio 3 you could listen to a discussion on the New America
- 'Was the past year unlike no other in modern American history?' You
could hear Richard Goldstein of the Village Voice, Paul Berman of the
New Republic, Karen Rothmeyer of the Nation and Tony Judt of NYU argue
on Radio 4 you could hear comprehensive coverage of the various services
and speeches going on in Europe and the States.
to respond to the way the world is changing. With programmes that challenge
the conventional wisdoms. With programmes that do look at what war with
Iraq might mean, not just for this country, but globally.
than ever, we broadcasters have a responbility to offer our listeners
as much information as possible, for them to make up their own minds,
about what is right and what is wrong. How they want to shape their
still a wonderful, unique medium for exploring ideas. It still is driven
by that remarkable objective set by Reith at its start to "bring
the best of everything into the greatest number of homes".
are still homes where people feel disenfranchised by the BBC, by radio
as a whole. We need to acknowledge that, particularly ethnic minorities.
responding, but maybe nor fast enough, or radically enough. We have
just launched two new digital stations to try to fill some of the gaps.
we still offer a medium for our present James Camerons to explore ideas,
take us further, learn from?
Stourton series on Radio 4, For Us or Against Us, attempted to piece
together how the Alliance against Terror had been put together, where
the cracks were, were the compromises?
main players took part and some we didn't ever expect to get including
the Russians, the Iranians and the Chinese. That's the kind of series
James Cameron would have attempted.
over whether Rod Liddle remained Editor of Today showed that we are
still providing programmes that are essential for people's daily lives.
me of something the Press Counsellor of the United States Embassy said
in 1989. He had been briefing the new Ambassdaor, Henry Catto:
me explain the difference between America and Britain" he said.
"In the States the most important programme you must appear on
is on television, in Britain its on the radio."
years later that is still true.
read all the articles on Rod's stewardship of the programme, on the
appointment of Kevin Marsh, and it was another American that summed
it up for me:
am a true devotee. It spares me watching television in the morning.
As a news consumer, who is writing and reporting about Britain and Europe
it is agenda setting."
Stryker McGuire, London Bureau Chief of Newsweek. Stryker, I agree.
its 80 years old, radio is still young, energetic and central to any
future for public service broadcasting.
next four years the BBC is going to be picked over, dissected, challenged
as the debate over its future and a new Charter intensifies.
the BBC there is a growing realisation that radio is essential to deliver
its public remit.
its role as cultural patron be without Radio 3's support of five orchestras,
its support of The Proms, its support of World Music?
would the BBC be without Radio 4's support of writers? Radio 4 commssions
more new writing than any other institution in the world.
would the BBC be without Radio 1 which reaches over 50% of 15 to 24-year-olds
would it be without Radio 2's investment in music documentaries, in
popular current affairs with programmes like Jimmy Young - soon to be
BBC have sustained its reputation for Sport without Radio Five Live?
television comedy be without Radio?
the BBC's journalism be without File on Four, Face the Facts,The World
Tonight or From Our Own Correspondent?
must continue to nurture and invest in that range of programmes across
radio if it is to deliver something of value to as many people as possible.
inception, radio has offered both its audience and the BBC opportunity.
being an albatross, I do think over the past few years it has risen,
phoenix like, and is recognised as a national resource, because, as
the first Controller of Radio 4 I knew – a man called Tony Whitby
- summed up:
the realm of ideas, radio operates with uncluttered lucidity: in the
realm of the imagination, it soars where others limp."