Save BBC Radio London 94.9 – The Fight Starts Here!

November 14, 2011

Three weeks ago, I was at a protest. To save my local station.

The BBC, like many other organisations in these austere times are having to find savings, thanks to the six year freeze the government placed on the price of the licence fee. Some of these savings, otherwise known as cuts, are going to affect local radio. London is the most heavily affected, losing shows broadcast between 12 and 5pm and 7pm to 6am. Breakfast, the mid morning show and drivetime will remain. Shared programming (whatever the hell that means) will be put in place covering all the regional stations in the southern end of the UK. Large chunks of what makes a local station unique will be removed, almost certain never to return.

We have Robert Elms in the afternoon providing a great mix of music, interviews and articles about London history. Then there’s Danny Baker: a unique genius that has to be heard to be believed. We have a good sports show between 7 and 10pm, except on Friday when it gives way to Jazzy B with his soul and funk show at 8pm. Late night is helmed by Joanne Good, who champions the arts, especially theatre and new bands. She also covers relationship topics in a fruitier way than would usually be allowed on radio and has a slot called Barking At The Moon for dogs and their owners, possibly the only programme of its kind in the UK. Overnights are covered by a number of presenters including Nikki Bedi and Ray Khan. They keep the insomniacs and night workers entertained. And the head honchos at the BBC want to replace all that with generic stuff that won’t please anyone… pah!

I heard there was going to be a protest on the 28th October. I decided, as a long-time listener of this station, to show my face and fight for my beloved BBC Radio London 94.9. I didn’t think I’d make it, as I got a last minute call to work, but I managed to get to the meeting place of All Souls Church, a magnificent John Nash building sited opposite BBC Broadcasting House at just after 6pm. The driving force that is John the Cabby was in full flow, stating the case for saving local radio in general and our London one in particular.

John the cabby

Banners were held aloft by some of the protesters that numbered 100 strong. BBC Radio 4 interviewed some of the demonstrators, including me, having been put forward by the group of listeners I had made friends with.

protesters with placards save BBC Radio London 94.9

protester with a placard save BBC Radio London 94.9

save local radio placard

Suddenly, we were given an opportunity to enter Broadcasting House to state our case, which we duly did. Chaos ensued.

Going into BBC Broadcasting House

inside BBC Broadcasting House

We were quickly ushered outside again and basically hung around. A well-dressed couple turned up wearing big skeleton heads.

massive skull heads

We hung around some more. Then the police turned up. Apparently the staff at Broadcasting House was unhappy with us.

John the cabby and the police

staff outside BBC Broadcasting House

It was all sorted out in the end with no arrests. It had started raining by then and it was time to go home (we’d been there for three hours). It was great to put faces to some of the regular callers. There’ll be more demonstrations to come. The next one will be a Carol Service with a difference on the 1st December. I can’t go to that one, but if I could, I’d have found something festive to wear. Maybe a Santa suit. My station as I know it must not die. I will not allow it.



  1. Pie, I suspect The Archers might have to be threatened before the outraged masses storm Broadcasting House. How much is Danny Baker costing the BBC these days? I have never understood the massive amounts paid out to Jonathon Ross etc over the years. As for the policies, not to mention the salary(ies) John Birt bled out of the commission during those hyper-inflated slap happy days of New Labour . . . . All best wishes! BTW, who is Candyman?

    • That’s right, Patti. We cannot let the Archers go – o-ho no. I don’t listen to that show and never have, but it’s an institution, so it has to stay!

      I don’t know how much Danny Baker is getting from the BBC, but I don’t think it’ll be anywhere near the telephone number salaries that some of the ‘talent’ received in the past. It is most frustrating that the top brass at the BBC who are supposed to be the custodian of the money collected through our licence fee have been really silly in some of its spending, so that we, the humble radio listener will have to have our programmes cut to save the princely sum of £1 million pounds. Like that’s going to make a massive saving in the budget.

      The Candyman, as Slowly Creeping Death points out below, is the nickname given to Danny Baker when he used to do the Breakfast show on the station.

  2. Baker is a legend. Don’t live in London but try to catch his show on the iplayer. When I think about the amount of money the BBC throw at no talent arse clowns in annoys me. Save the candyman.

    • Danny Baker is indeed a leg-end. If he gets cut from the schedule, I’ll have to hunt high and low to find out where he would be working next. I may be wrong about this, but I think he also does a football show on BBC5 Live.

      Arse clowns. I love that phrase. I take it you are covering both TV and radio in that regard.

      • I love Danny Baker who does indeed give value for money which I am guessing is absolutely nowhere near what they have been overpaying the prima donnas! Christmas isn’t Christmas without the TOTP 2 Christmas Special!
        If I were making cuts at BBC Radio I would start with letting go of Woman’s Hour (those cooking programmes, live on the radio, always cracked me up) and Gardner’s Question Time. Is Anne Robinson still doing that stupid quiz on TV? BTW, I am a BBC Licence Fee payer. I travel a lot. Do you think BBC iPlayer is available to fee payers outside the UK??? NO!
        Sounds to me Pie as though you have a campaign!

        • I don’t watch as much TV as I used to and I certainly don’t watch it at the time Anne Robinson would’ve been on with that Weakest Link show, so I don’t know if it’s still running.

          I thought iPlayer was worldwide, like some of the other things from the BBC. As a disgruntled licence payer, you should start a campaign to get it working in New York. Mind, you, I think there are American media sites I can’t get here, so it’s a bit rubbish on both sides of the pond, isn’t it?

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