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Category: Radio industry

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John Motson apologises for calling Millwall’s Tom Elliott ‘big, black and brave’

• Motson made remarks on TalkSport before FA Cup tie• TalkSport says it has treated matter ‘very seriously’John Motson has personally apologised to the Millwall striker Tom Elliott after describing him as “big, black and brave” on TalkSport.The 73-year…

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Ian Robertson hangs up his mic: ‘You don’t gain anything from being an assassin’ | Andy Bull

After 47 years on the BBC, charming Nelson Mandela and Elizabeth Taylor along the way, the voice of rugby will call it a day at Twickenham painting the best picture he canAt school the teachers called Ian Robertson “Chatterbox”. It was “Chatterbox! Sil…

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Jason Cundy apologises for attack on female World Cup commentators

• TalkSport’s Cundy told ITV: ‘High-pitched tone isn’t what I want’• Presenter later says he was wrong and had been ‘an idiot’The former Chelsea and Tottenham defender Jason Cundy has apologised after his claim, broadcast on national television, that f…

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Radio scores as fans enjoy ‘feelgood factor’ of the World Cup

The BBC and TalkSport are benefiting from broadcasting experiments with increased engagementWith England’s World Cup opening game becoming the most-watched programme of the year so far, radio coverage seems on course to hit new heights too.BBC Radio 5 …

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Cricket on the radio: TMS, fake Nazis and how to blend fact and fiction

When commentating on Test Match Special, I am sometimes tempted to drift off into fantasy to paint a picture for listeners. Apparently, I’m not the only oneBy Daniel Norcross for The Nightwatchman, of the Guardian Sport NetworkIt’s May 1941 and you’re …

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Geoffrey Boycott makes amends over Theresa May’s missing Tupperware

Cricket pundit sends PM new containers after she accused him of taking hers when she baked brownies for TMS teamGeoffrey Boycott has attempted to make amends with Theresa May after she accused him of taking her Tupperware when she baked brownies for th…

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‘So, what are you?’ BBC Today host questions Konta on her Britishness

Wimbledon semi-finalist pulls Radio 4’s John Humphrys up on factual inaccuracies in interview that at times appeared tense

The BBC presenter John Humphrys has questioned whether or not the tennis player Johanna Konta – a Team GB Olympic athlete and UK citizen – is truly British during a Today programme interview.

Konta, who this month became the first British woman to reach a Wimbledon semi-final since 1978, pulled Humphrys up on factual inaccuracies in what appeared at times to be a slightly tense discussion on Radio 4 on Tuesday.

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David Beckham to be castaway on 75th anniversary Desert Island Discs

Special edition of Radio 4 programme will also have sound of sea wash during the credits for first time since 1960s

David Beckham is to be the castaway on the 75th anniversary episode of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

The former England footballer will appear on a special edition on 29 January, which will also feature the return of the sound of sea wash to the programme credits for the first time since the 1960s.

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Want some more quality rugby league coverage? Turn on your radio

TalkSport and the BBC are both producing high-quality shows; St Albans Centurions deserve credit for passing a milestone; and some treats from Devon

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

It’s not easy to follow rugby league if you chose not to spend your money on satellite TV and live nowhere near a professional club. Within 24 hours of the Hull derby ending in Newcastle, I’d travelled over 500 miles south west to spend my annual week at an idyllic cottage in South Hams, on the Devon coast. There is no Sky, mobile signal or internet access there, which is part of its charm. But it makes being a rugby league fan rather tough. We were on the beach on Tuesday lunchtime when BBC2 aired The Super League Show down south, and had to leave The Cove bistro in magical Outer Hope (who boast Andy Farrell among their annual visitors) before their advertised broadcast of Cas v Wigan began in the tiny bar.

Related: Hull FC look dangerous in Super League after their derby win at Magic Weekend

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No sane admirer of its work wants to see Radio 5 Live go online-only | Kevin Mitchell

The complete package of sport, news and chat, the station known as Radio Bloke would leave a huge hole if it was to follow BBC3 and become online-only

A familiar shiver rippled through the BBC this week. Radio 5 Live – known with only marginal justification to its critics and friends alike as Radio Bloke, the pioneering mix of news, sport and chat that is celebrating more than two decades of frontline service across a wide range of our daily experience – was to be shunted off the air and online, following BBC3 into the digital ether as the government’s budget cuts ripped away another slice of the corporation’s profile.

As reported in the Guardian on Wednesday, things are looking grim. There have been the ritual denials and a well-placed insider told Guardian sport: “All radio will probably be online one day – but not yet.”

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BBC Radio 5 Live could go online-only in radical cost cuts

News and sport station could follow BBC3 in going off air, or even face closure to save its £66m budget – but any such move is likely to be controversial

The BBC is considering making BBC Radio 5 Live online-only in radical cost-cutting measures as it seeks to fill a funding black hole.

The news and sport channel is the latest service to have come under review as the corporation tries to find savings to cover the £700m annual cost of free licence fees for the over-75s by 2020.

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Geoff Boycott’s smacking comment on BBC Test Match Special cleared

Ex-England cricketer’s remark that Stuart Broad wasn’t smacked enough when he was a child prompted complaint that it condoned physical abuse of children

Test Match Special is better known for remarks about cakes sent in by listeners and pigeons landing on sight screens.

But when Geoff Boycott suggested England cricketer Stuart Broad wasn’t smacked enough by his mother when he was little, it prompted an inquiry by the BBC Trust after a listener complained it condoned physical abuse of children.

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Kevin Pietersen to be part of Test Match Special’s World Cup coverage

• Former England batsman to join up with BBC team in Australia
• Pietersen will appear as summariser from quarter-finals onwards

Kevin Pietersen has agreed to be part of the BBC’s radio coverage of the Cricket World Cup, with the former England batsman set to feature on Test Match Special from the quarter-finals onwards.

Pietersen, who recently appeared for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, has been lined up by the corporation as a guest summariser after his England career was terminated last year.

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BBC sorry over remarks in ‘keep your knickers on’ Ched Evans debate

Radio Norfolk host Nick Conrad made several controversial statements during live debate on convicted rapist Ched Evans

• Why Nick Conrad is another man after a second chance

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How Adrian Chiles broke into TVs top flight of earners last year

Champions League presenters £4.6m earnings prompt bemusement though 2014 pay likely to be considerably less

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James Alexander Gordon, voice of BBC radio’s football results, dies at 78

Scottish broadcaster ended four-decade stint of announcing classified results in 2013 after being diagnosed with cancer Continue reading…

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Jonathan Wall: ‘Our future is not in doubt partly because Hall set us up’

As BBC Radio 5 Live turns 20, its controller talks sports rights, competition – and reaching the limit on savings

On Friday, Radio 5 Live turns 20. In 1994, when it was launched by a BBC News chief called Tony Hall, it was the corporation’s only breaking-news outlet. Now Hall is director general, and fighting to redefine the BBC in a world of digital media – one where people have almost infinite choice about where they find their news. Yet Jonathan Wall, who runs Radio 5 Live today, says the station’s mission hasn’t changed as much as the world around it.

“We have great clarity about why we get out of bed in the morning,” says Wall. “It’s based on a lot of the foundations from 20 years ago. We are the place on British radio where you hear breaking news, that definitively does sport better than anyone else on British radio. More recently, I feel we are now more of an agenda-setter and a national conversation. We are live debate.” And for Wall, agenda-setting doesn’t just mean politics, or the floods. It means a conscious push to “future-proof” British radio, with 5 Live playing a similar role among speech stations to that taken by Radio 1 in music.

“I think the next two or three years are the most critical in the history of British radio,” he says. He points to favourable Rajar audience data for 5 Live, and other BBC stations in terms of their weekly “reach” (the number of people who tune in at least once). But Wall notes this masks quite a swift drop in the number of hours people are, on average, listening. “I don’t want to be sat here in a few years’ time, with other BBC or commercial radio leaders, thinking ‘Why didn’t we do a bit more?'”

Wall’s answer includes both “beefing up” 5 Live’s journalism and offering the Twitter generation different ways of hearing it. In his first year in the job, 5 Live has launched Question Time Extra Time (which sits alongside the BBC1 debate programme) and done extended live broadcasts from an A&E department in Wigan and a dementia clinic in Wigan. Next month, the early-morning business programme Wake Up to Money will be extended by 15 minutes, and the station will debut a new science show.

This week, Wall launches an online initiative, “5 Live in short”. “We will be the first linear station to have a full home of short-form content, in one place on our website,” he says. “You can get Pienaar’s Politics in perhaps the two-minute version rather than the one-hour version, the Pistorius trial in five minutes, right next to the best of 606.” The station already offers similarly truncated versions of shows such as Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review and Fighting Talk – which, says Wall, are often gateways for listeners, who’ll subsequently tune in to the full programme.

Wall took over 5 Live after his predecessor, Adrian Van Klaveren, had been recalled to London to help deal with the Jimmy Savile scandal – and was relieved of his position after getting embroiled in the Newsnight/Lord McAlpine fiasco. In post since last February, the station’s fifth controller talks with genuine animation about his digital ambitions, as well as other collaborations with different bits of the BBC – not least, a potential sports-themed concert at this year’s Proms. Scrunched into one of BBC Salford’s trendy-but-impractical “meeting pods”, Wall is unflappably good-humoured. His answers, even to questions about touchy BBC subjects like budgets and cuts, are unusually free of weasel-words and jargon.

Wall’s frankness helps throw into sharp relief the financial pressure that 5 Live – in common with other BBC services – is facing. The station’s overall content budget, as reported in last year’s BBC annual report, was £55m – but much of that is spent on things outside Wall’s domain, such as centralised newsgathering. The remainder – Wall’s “controllable spend” – has, he says, dropped by £7m over three years (from about £33m in 2011/12 to £26m in 2014/15).

Wall acknowledges he has reached the limit of plausible “efficiency” savings, and that even another £1m off his budget would mean cuts to the station’s output. “We might have to play tapes overnight between 1am and 5am, instead of live news,” he says. “And we currently do 28 different sports a year – I’m not sure we’d be able to do that any more.” That would mean an end to Dotun Adebayo’s Up All Night. Wall says he might also have to cut back further on international sport.

Pressure on 5 Live’s sports coverage isn’t new, though, and it comes from a variety of conflicting sources. The station is often told (by the BBC Trust and its major competitor, TalkSport) that it spends too much on sports rights. But Wall stoutly defends its position, particularly in the Premier League rights market. “I don’t see how we can be too big a beast, when we have less, and TalkSport and Absolute have more, than they used to have,” he says. “We used to have six out of seven [Premier League rights] packages, now we have four.” And he would be happy to share more rights with commercial competitors. “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t want any of it to be exclusive – the Premier League determine how they want that process to run.”

The other side of Wall’s sport problem is the regular bids that deep-pocketed TV competitors, such as Sky, make for its on-air talent. He lost football commentator Darren Fletcher to BT Sport, and says matter-of-factly: “Even if I had my £7m back, the BBC wouldn’t be matching some of the offers. BT have changed the market.” Wall points out, though, that sometimes he’s able to make progress as a result of talent departures. Putting more women on the air is, he says, “a priority” – and his Formula 1 team is now led by Jennie Gow, after his old team was hired en masse by Sky.

One threat that Wall isn’t contemplating, even after Hall’s announcement of the surprise closure of BBC3, is that 5 Live will be axed. “There’s no doubt about our future,” says Wall – unless the next licence fee settlement involves a dramatic cut to the BBC’s income. “Partly because Tony Hall set us up 20 years ago, I feel far more connected, and more strategic – and partly because we’re in Salford, we’re at the heart of this project here.”

That Salford project – which saw 5 Live move north from Television Centre in 2011 – is one which Wall has embraced with greater vigour than perhaps any other executive. He grew up nearby, in Altrincham. His dad was a Salford native, and used to take the young Jonathan to Salford’s disused docks. Notably unlike other BBC execs – including BBC North’s overall boss, Peter Salmon – Wall has moved his family north, to a new home in Knutsford.

When Wall contemplates his own future – as opposed to the future-proofed future of 5 Live – that geography looms large in his plans. “I kind of hope that this building can fulfil me and my career,” he says. So, maybe he’s aiming for Salmon’s job one day? “I haven’t really thought about that. But I’d like to think that having moved up here, I should be a big leader and player of this being a success. That’s 5 Live for now, and what could that mean afterwards? Well, let’s see how I do in the next two or three years.”

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BBC apologises after playing screams and howling over Oscar Pistorius report

Technical glitch resulted in sound effects being played as a local radio reporter told of Reeva Steenkamp’s death. By Dugald Baird

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BBC Radio 4 makes its move with Across the Board chess series

Lennox Lewis is one of the guests who will be interviewed while playing former Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson

It is not the easiest of spectator sports, but BBC Radio 4 will put chess on the airwaves over the Christmas period with a series of interviews across the board by Dominic Lawson, beginning with former heavyweight boxing champion, Lennox Lewis.

Lawson, a chess aficionado and former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, will interview Lewis, a fan of the game, and four other guests while playing a game. The series, Across the Board, will begin on 30 December and run across the week.

It is the first time the BBC has put chess on the radio for half a century, since a series featuring chess prodigy and grandmaster Bobby Fischer ran on what was then called the Third Programme between 1958 and 1964.

Each game will last a maximum of an hour, with Lawson and his guests given 30 minutes each to make their moves. Listeners will not hear the game in its entirety, however, with each programme lasting 15 minutes.

Other guests will include shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves, a former British girls under-14 champion, and 19-year-old Hou Yifan, the current women’s world chess champion.

Lawson said: “It wasn’t easy, but I hope it won’t be difficult listening. It was a very imaginative idea – hats off to [Radio 4 controller] Gwyneth Williams.”

It is 20 years since the BBC broadcast coverage of Nigel Short’s world chess championship encounter with Gary Kasparov. The 1993 face-off, held at London’s Savoy Theatre, was shown on BBC2 and Channel 4.

Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said: “Chess is much more than a game – it provides a different perspective on the way we live; talk of endgames, pawns and checkmate has become part of everyday life, war and politics.

“I’m delighted that Dominic, an aficionado himself, will interview, whilst playing, a surprising list of chess devotees from all walks of life.”

The show’s producer, David Edmonds, said: “If we can get Test match cricket to work on the radio, then we can get chess to work as well.”

The series was born after Williams heard Lawson take on John Humphrys in a game of chess on the Today programme in March this year.

Listeners will be able to see all of the players’ moves on the BBC website, which will link to a graphic recreation of the game on the Chess Base site.

“It’s an odd concept but intriguingly it works,” said Edmonds. “I have played it to a few non-chess players, and when Dominic says ‘bishop to E6, what a disaster’, I thought they would be utterly bored and baffled but actually that is the bit they are intrigued by,” said Edmonds.

“I’m hoping it will work for non-chess-playing audiences as well.”

The other guests in the series will be John Healy, the writer and former homeless alcoholic who took up chess in prison, and former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky.

Edmonds said: “The problem was always going to be the chess players being very competitive, they wanted to win and focus on the chess, rather than responding to the questions. I had to try to persuade them that while the chess was important, it was secondary to the conversation.

“Talking and playing chess at the same time is a difficult thing to pull off. He’d be annoyed by me saying this, but Dominic has got the easier of the roles, asking questions while playing chess rather than answering them.”

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Radio Times encouraging listeners to take in chess through the ear | Media

Chess … on the radio. BBC Radio 4 is getting round the obvious drawback of the game of kings not producing a lot of actual, um … sound with the clever wheeze of having Dominic Lawson interview his opponent across the chessboard during their match. A chesserview, if you will. The BBC has tried chess on the radio before, 50-odd years ago, with Radio Times writer Christopher Holme providing helpful hints for listeners planning to tune in. “As a subject for the sound medium, chess has obvious difficulties.” Yes, go on. “Many of these programmes will be a of a kind which can be taken in by any listener through the ear alone; for others, diagrams will be provided in Radio Times (see page 34); but there will be some few programmes which can be fully enjoyed and appreciated only by the listener who has his board and men set up in front of him.” Holme expresses the hope that “chess-players of all classes will not only listen but also compete”, as chess by radio will only succeed with the “fullest participation of the audience up and down the country”. You don’t get a lot of sentences constructed along the lines of “taken in by any listener through the ear alone” these days, more’s the pity. So stand by your boards, people – but radio chess will still have to go some to compete with the thrills and spills of the World Championship Stare-out Finals.

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