This week BBC Radio Suffolk has announced a pretty massive revamp of its schedules to accommodate the new imported star – Terry Baxter. The Breakfast Show is the prime slot for obvious reasons so Terry displaces Mark Murphy as Breakfast Show presenter, Mark takes James Hazell’s mid morning slot and James moves to weekends. Lesley Dolphin appears, thankfully, untouched by all of this.
Mark and James are no doubt, and understandably, feeling somewhat perturbed but, certainly, if I was Mark I’d be jumping for joy. No more ridiculously early starts and, I would imagine, a more loyal and focused audience than can be found amongst those of us looking for a quick traffic and weather report, and a bit of news, before rushing off to work.
Previously a 5 Live fan, and before that, Capital Radio, I was converted to Radio Suffolk a few months ago, mostly by Twitter chatter, and I haven’t looked back since. Apologies to Mark, and also Nick Pandolfi on the equally good Town 102 Commercial Radio station, but I can no longer “accommodate” Breakfast Shows in my daily routine. They were a key part of my life when I was driving around London in my former life as a city whizz kid but now the radio’s for keeping me company as I work from my shed in the back garden.
Having spent a great part of my life working in London, then Croatia (where I barely understood 1 word in 5 of the local radio station but still listened to it) local radio in Suffolk does, I believe, have an audience demographic completely different from that of our capital city and other large urban areas. It’s a rural area, commuting times within the county are relatively short compared with our city neighbours, and those that are commuting to London are probably more interested in world and country affairs rather than those of the county, not of course to say that these are mutually exclusive!
I was told by an eminent political figure that there are more businesses registered, per square mile, in Suffolk than in any other county in the UK. That reinforces my belief that there are an awful lot of entrepreneurs like me running their own businesses from home or close to home. In theory that gives us a lot more control over our working environment and working hours – if it suits us to listen to the radio while we work then that’s what we do. And for small local businesses, what’s going on in the immediate and wider county community can be very important indeed.
I have never been disappointed with any Radio Suffolk Show or presenter but I love the Lesley Dolphin Show in the afternoons because it is always so relevant to everything I do – work and play. As a journalist and naturally curious person, everything to do with my locality is potentially relevant; as a Suffolk Treasure Trail writer I’m always looking for a head start on research on a new village or town to be explored, and as someone who loves quality home grown produce and entertainment, news of what’s on and interviews with local personalities can be a mine of information. And Lesley presents it all in such a cheerful, informed and natural way that brings out the best in everyone she talks to.
James Hazell’s show is equally entertaining, and just as well presented, but not so much of a must, for me, on the work front. James covers some serious news subjects very skilfully, and incorporates more than a fair share of not so serious subjects and good humour, but to get the best out of the show you need to concentrate on the issues. So listening to James, mid morning, is a bit of a luxury- fine when I’m striding through the admin and emails but, when it comes to serious concentration for long periods, the radio has to go. I have to admit though I’m finding it increasingly difficult to turn that switch off.
I’m sure Mark will do an excellent job in the mid morning show and I’m looking forward to hearing what I’ve missed by not listening to breakfast radio; I’m equally sure that James’ audience, myself included, will now find a good reason to turn on the radio over the weekend. I just hope that the powers that be value the voices that we know and love as much as we do, and look after them for a long time to come. BBC Radio Suffolk is, to me, an infinitely valuable part of my media resources and I count it, with Twitter as,one of the most effective uses of my time – for business and pleasure.
For more information on the changes go to BBC News Suffolk