5 live's move to Salford - a seismic shift
In two years time much will have happened - a General Election in the UK and the World Cup in South Africa to name but two. Also by then 5 live will have moved to Salford and next month we reach a really important landmark in the planning of that move. The BBC will take possession of what is currently known as Building C at Mediacity in Salford Quays and the first floor of that building will be 5 live's new home in 2011 (by which time I promise we'll have come up with a better name for the building). But for now we'll begin fitting it out, putting in all the wiring, technology and furnishing which a radio station needs in the 21st century. Things were so much simpler in Marconi's time.
The whole development is striking - ambitious in scale and completely transforming the area around Salford Quays. It's designed to create a new hub for the entire media industry which can be a magnet for talent from all over the world. From the BBC's point of view it's a chance to redefine our connections with the north of England, ensuring we spend the licence fee more equitably across the UK. The 1500 jobs we move - from areas including Sport, Childrens, Future Media and Technology and Learning - will be part of a seismic shift in how the BBC thinks and operates.
From 5 live's point of view it plays to our core aims of reflecting events, stories and voices from every part of the UK. If we were launching the station today, I've no doubt we'd decide that basing it outside London would make it easier to achieve our aims of having a distinctive non-metropolitan sound and agenda.
Moving an already successful national radio station 200 miles is no small task - that's probably why no one has ever done it before. But last week as I wandered round the space where we'll be working, the advantages are already clear. It's not just a shiny new state of the art building but a place where we can create a radio station for the internet age, bringing together everything we do on-air and online and ensuring the best possible coverage of live news and live sport. We'll be part of something which is closer and better connected to audiences and which is a place where innovation and great ideas can thrive.
5 live must continue to be a UK wide service as relevant in Peterhead as it is in Plymouth. To do that we need the best people working on the station both on air and off air. Already presenters including Nicky Campbell, Peter Allen and Colin Murray have signed up to being part of the move and nearly half of 5 live's current staff are likely to make the move. We will be bringing in new people as well and I've no doubt that the talent is there for us right across the north of England as well as with other people who are keen to make the move to the region. On-air the changes will be subtle rather than dramatic but we are determined to end up as an even better radio station. Starting something new in broadcasting is always an exciting moment - frustrating at times, terrifying momentarily but ultimately exhilarating. This has the feeling of a pioneering start-up and there'll be many stories to tell along the way. I want to use this blog to share them in a way which has never been possible before.
Adrian Van Klaveren is Controller of BBC Radio 5 live
- The picture shows 5 live staff Katya Willems, Rhian Roberts, Richard Bacon and Adrian Van Klaveren looking out over the Mediacity piazza from what will be 5 live's office. It was taken by Steve Bowbrick on a tour of the new buildings earlier this month. There are more pictures here.
- The Mediacity web site has information about the project, including a plan of the development (PDF).