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Q&A Jeff Zycinski: your questions answered

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Alan Braidwood Alan Braidwood | 15:10 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A couple of weeks back I blogged about sending questions to the Radio Scotland boss, Jeff Zycinski. The deadline for this was Friday May 22 and since then Jeff has been working that keyboard hard in Inverness to answer all the probing Qs. Here are the questions posed, as well as Jeff's replies.

Jeff Zycinski, Head of Radio, BBC Scotland. Photographed May 2010

"Where is Frieda Morrison? Where is Reel Blend?" - woodsidewullie

Jeff Zycinski (JZ) - Frieda is alive and well! I had lunch with her a few months ago and she handed me a copy of her new CD. I think she may also be writing a book. I'm sure you'll hear her on our airwaves again, but she was keen to step away from the Beechgrove Potting Shed so she would have time for all these other things in her life.
Robbie Shepherd is still very much part of our weekend schedule. We extended Take the Floor to accommodate the kind of music that would have featured in The Reel Blend as well as the live sessions. Some listeners prefer the new show, others still miss the Reel Blend and haven't forgiven me for the change.
I don't set out to upset people, but I do have to find ways of evolving the schedule within the parameters of limited airtime and budgets. So, this change allows the programme makers to create new music shows like Barbara Dickson's Scotland on Song.


"Boss,
When will you be posting more threads? (Stay away from politics. Pure dis mah nut in, by the way).
Caption competitions particularly welcome. Pass the word to Bryan ower at Get it On.
Izzat your office?
Why is yon photie in monochrome?
When are you gonna start drinking alcohol again?
Why not? Go on, go on, go on, go on. Jist a wee yin!
Who do you want to win the Scottish Cup?
Why do you want the other team to lose? This you call impartiality? Izzat the time? Gotta go shower. Michael Marra the nicht!" - Scotch-git

JZ - Let me answer all of these in one go! I assume you're talking about my own blog? Well, I took a back seat while this new Radio Scotland blog was being launched and I'm afraid I've used it as an excuse to be very lazy about posting new entries. I'll pass on your thoughts about caption competitions.
No, sadly, that's not my office in the photographs. I only have a hot desk at Pacific Quay. That photograph was taken in a meeting area. I think it's monochrome because the photographer is going for the gothic gargoyle effect.
I'm still off the drink (almost eight months now) and I backed Ross County for the cup, but not with real money.


"I appreciate how busy a man in your position must be - business and family too of course - but I do hope you will give us more of your observations on life's quirks. It is always disappointing to check the blog and find nothing new." - robbiemac

JZ - Consider me told off. I used to mix the family stories with information about the programmes, but now this new blog does the programme stuff much better than I ever could. Could you really cope with me waffling on about my personal life all the time?

"Hey Jeff, Do you consider the BBC's greatest strategic threat is that the licence fee will be 'top sliced'?" - madmacfraeclydebank

JZ - No, but the economies of scale that come with a guaranteed licence fee do allow us to do things that others wouldn't. Think of the way we deploy staff across Scotland. It makes editorial sense, but it adds to our costs. The biggest threat will always come from the audience...if viewers and listeners no longer value the BBC then it will disappear.


"When's Get it On going to three hours a night seven nights a week?" - paolopablo

JZ - Glad you're a fan. No plans to increase the duration of Get It On at the moment. The programme was actually designed as a short-term format for the summer a few years ago, but audience demand has kept it in the schedule. I think its success has a lot to do with Bryan Burnett's enthusiasm and energy, but also the fact that you can request all sorts of music...there is no strict playlist.
"When are you going to get a decent semi intelligent presenter for Your Call on Sportsound?" - paolopablo
JZ - So you're not a fan of the incumbent? True, he's not semi-intelligent...he's 100% brainy, but I guess he puts on an act sometimes.


"Noticing your proper title is 'Head of Radio at BBC Scotland', I assume that means you are in charge of not only Radio Scotland but also Radio Nan Gaidheal and Scottish made programmes on Radio 4?" - MacSteaphain

JZ - Not Radio Nan Gaidheal. That's run by my colleagues in the BBC Gaelic department and they have programmes coming from Glasgow, Inverness and Stornoway.
Yes, I liaise with the Controllers of the BBC UK networks on the programming we provide for them. The teams who make programmes for BBC Radio Scotland are the same as those who make the programmes for the likes of Radio 4, Radio 3 and Radio 1. We make a lot of drama and features for Radio 4 including regular strands such as Click On and Tracing Your Roots. Our comedy programmes often get another airing on BBC Radio 7.

"Are there any chance of further opt-outs like Radio Orkney and Radio Shetland for the rest of Scotland?" - MacSteaphain
JZ - I think the scope for that is limited. We are looking to provide more news and sport opts around Scotland but there are difficulties. We can only opt-out where there is a local FM transmitter and we can't (at the moment) opt-out on DAB or Medium Wave. Online listening presents better opportunities for the future, but at this stage the number of people listening via the web is very small compared to the other platforms.
"Being based in Inverness, doesn't it make your job more difficult not being based at Pacific Quay?" - MacSteaphain


JZ - Not to any great extent and sometimes there are advantages. Being based outside Glasgow three days a week allows me to get a better sense of how our programmes are being received in different parts of Scotland. I don't mind the travel - you can get so much done on the train - but I do miss being at home in the evenings.


"Why the move towards 'celebrity' presenters?" - norriemaclean

JZ - At lot of the changes you'll hear this year and next are based on the massive audience analysis project we ran last year. Listeners wanted presenters with a profile, but only if they had something to offer over and above their celebrity status. We tend to recruit presenters who can bring something to the party - journalistic experience, musical knowledge, wit. Listeners want us to be smart as well as friendly.

"Do you think a programme which assumes all sporting heroes are male and that their wives are stuck in the kitchen with their knives (oh and of course spoons) - really reflects modern Scottish society?" - norriemaclean
JZ - I take the blame for that title. It was originally just Wives with Knives but we added the Spoons and Tunes just in case people thought it was a hard-hitting series about domestic violence. It's designed to be an entertaining and engaging listen for the summer Saturdays....Liz Clark is the ever-present wife of the tile, but the sporting partners will include men and women.

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