Recent posts in my Radio Category

December 14, 2009

"In the future, there will be journalists"

At a UCLAN workshop in Preston, I was part of a group trying to discover the digital skills and training that a young journalist in 2012 would need. This post explains what we thought the journalist of the future would look like.

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July 2, 2009

Activate 09 at The Guardian: Notes and take-away quotes - Part 1

June 5, 2009

"It's SunTalk Wot Won It"

During the recent election campaign, the BBC's community areas will have been operating under 'special election rules'. Moderation will have been much tighter than usual when people were talking about politics. Actually, this system has got more relaxed over the years. I remember that one of the most disrupting elements of h2g2 being assimilated by the BBC was during the 2001 election campaign. Then, the community were told that if they wanted to discuss politics, they'd have to leave the...
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May 31, 2009

BBC Radiophonic Workshop Q&A at the Camden Roundhouse

On May 17th I went to see an evening with 'The Radiophonic Workshop' at Camden's Roundhouse, which was part of their Short Circuit festival of electronica. Yesterday I posted my review of the gig. Photo by Stickpeople Before the show started there was an hour long Q&A session with 5 members of the Radiophonic Workshop, which I was lucky enough to attend. Here are some of my notes from the event. The conference circuit Thanks to their involvement with Doctor...
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May 30, 2009

BBC Radiophonic Workshop live at the Camden Roundhouse

March 29, 2009

Stan Collymore scores with me on Twitter

Part of the recent buzz around Twitter in the UK has been driven by the adoption of the service by celebrities. Some of them have been using it as a pure broadcast medium, but there are also some examples of fantastic audience interaction there, and people who seem to be real naturals with the medium. One of them is Stan Collymore. Since he retired from football he has often been a controversial figure, but I've been totally impressed with the...
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March 12, 2009

"An Open BBC?" at Broadcasting House

With my posts over the couple the last couple of days about The Guardian's Open Platform and, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was going to be wall-to-wall Guardian on currybetdotnet from now on. However, on Tuesday night I was back at one of my old stomping grounds, the BBC, for the event wrapping up Steve Bowbrick's time as the BBC's "open blogger". Although, to be fair, Emily Bell was on the panel, so there is still...
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February 25, 2009

'Delivering Digital Britain' still too much about 'delivery'

I was lucky enough to get a seat yesterday morning when Lord Carter presented the next steps for his Digital Britain report at NESTA. The event was heavily over-subscribed and the busiest I've seen at NESTA HQ. The release of the report was heavily criticised in many quarters, some of which was captured by a move to put it into a more malleable format than the PDF document that was initially published. I wondered whether Lord Carter would address any...
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January 29, 2009

Digital Britain Interim report - first impressions

Today is day that the interim 'Digital Britain' report was published by the DCMS. It follows hard on the heels of the Ofcom report into the future of Public Service Broadcasting as part of this curiously two pronged approach to sorting out the regulatory and policy future of the UK's media. I turned the Ofcom document into a Wordle cloud: I've done the same for today's Digital Britain interim report: And, as prompted by @JemStone, here is the comparison chart...
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November 2, 2008

The Hexenturm Files...coming to Radio 4

You might recall that 18 months ago I was living in Salzburg, Austria, whilst working with Sony. At the time the joint blog that my wife and I write about our travels was called 'Some Edelweiss Of Our Own' rather than 'A lemon tree of our own'. Whilst in Salzburg, my better half wrote a series of articles which she called 'The Hexenturm Files'. She had noticed a picture of a spooky old building in the laundry she used on...
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October 29, 2008

BBC fails the online Brand damage limitation test

One of the joys of having the web as a corporate communication channel is that it is very flexible and can be very, very dynamic. Not all businesses take full advantage of that, though. The BBC has not been very nimble in its response to the Brand / Ross / Sachs sex scandal, and this has been especially true on the web. At lunchtime today, even as the Corporation announced the suspension of Ross and Brand, if you visited /programmes...
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August 29, 2008

Currybetdotnet recent comments round-up 2008-08-29

Back in February and March of this year I did a series of articles about blog comments, and one of my suggestions was that doing an occasional round-up of interesting comments was a way of making sure they got attention, particularly if they had been left on older articles. One way or another I've been in a bit of an Internet connection black hole for the last five weeks or so, and it means that the moderating of comments on...
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May 2, 2008

Can you trust going to a 'Can you trust the media?' event for a good debate?

I've been lucky enough that whilst I've been in London for a month working, there have been a couple of interesting events that I have been able to go to. Last week it was Chinwag Live, and this week it was the launch of Adrian Monck's book "Can you trust the media?". It is some testament to the openness of media professionals in the UK that you could just walk into a college and go to a debate featuring big...
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March 8, 2008

The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Doctor Whoniverse

Thirty years ago today, at 10:30pm on a Wednesday night, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a new landmark sci-fi comedy - the first part of Douglas Adam's "The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy". I was first introduced to the radio series by a school friend. Staying round his house in the early 80s, we'd stay up as late as we could get away with, listening to some C90 recordings he had of the episodes. He didn't have totally impeccable taste mind...
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November 29, 2007

That 2002 BBCi Search impartiality problem in full

In my recent post on the BBC's Internet Blog about the development of the BBC's web search engine, I mentioned in passing that in 2002 the BBC was accused of artificially inflating the rankings of BBC content within the results. James Cridland picked up on it, reminding us that searching for 'Classic FM' used to bring back BBC Radio 3 in top spot. The original draft of my blog post went into a little more detail about this 'technical glitch',...
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September 30, 2007

Happy birthday Radio One - Established 1967

Today is the 40th anniversary of national institution Radio One. To celebrate they have emulated the NME's Ruby Trax compilation, getting modern artists to cover the 'classics' of yesteryear. I've never been a great consumer of radio myself. I used to listen to John Peel late at might, and the Annie Nightingale request show on a Sunday during my tweenage years, and before that I'd often hear the top 40 countdown in the car on the way back from visiting...
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July 19, 2007

"Show must go on" culture at the BBC more to blame for errors than a calculating culture of deceit

In all my time working at the BBC there was never anything as high-pressured, stressful, or as worrying as having an application with a 'TX critical' deadline - meaning that it had to go live and work at the appointed moment that it was mentioned in the broadcast stream. Software updates could be put back, new content publishing could be delayed, whole website launches could be shelved, as long as it wasn't going to be mentioned on TV or Radio....
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June 13, 2007

Free the BBC from the same old tired DRM debate

I was pointed via Wonderland yesterday at the Free The BBC site, where a petition is gathering against the BBC's proposed use of DRM in the upcoming iPlayer application. And of course, a quick look shows that this has sparked the same tired circular arguments on the mailing list. One person has been arguing that DRM is a bad thing because their sister accidentally wiped clean their iPod, whilst someone else is claiming the only basis for the BBC's...
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March 14, 2007

Slacker equivalent already on the market in Europe - meet Sony and Vodafone's Radio DJ

There has been a bit of a buzz around the announcement of a service called Slacker in the USA, which will be a device which plays personalised radio stations to the user on the go. Matt Marshall at VentureBeat even touted it as a potential "iPod killer". As I read through the promised feature-set, I started to get a little nagging voice in my head, saying "Hang on, isn'" Because for the last few months I've been working on...
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March 2, 2007

Playing with the Virgin Radio player beta

I was nudged the other day into looking at Virgin Radio's beta test of a new streaming internet radio player. The limited testing is only open to those who have registered as VIPs on the Virgin Radio site, which was a nice way of getting a small group of enthusiastic users of the site to try out the new service. My first impressions of the player were very good. Apart from having the streaming area and radio controls, the...
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February 3, 2007

Paul Dacre's claim that, due to the BBC, commercial radio is "ailing"

Despite the odd government white-wash inspired truce along the way, I imagine that my worldview and that of the Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre are almost implacably opposed. I read with interest, therefore, his much quoted Cudlipp lecture the other week, which amongst other things, accused the BBC of "cultural Marxism". I don't want to look at the speech as a whole, as Lloyd Shepherd has already done that job for me - my favourite line in Lloyd's response being...
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January 9, 2007

Today and the Hunting ban repeal vote

Being a behind-the-scenes veteran of several BBC Today programme online votes, I've been watching with interest from the continent as the saga of this year's vote has unfolded. For those not in the know, listeners voted overwhelmingly to repeal the law that attempts to ban hunting with hounds, and on air the programme suggested there was something "suspicious" about the outcome. Even paragon of virtue Ann Widdecombe was quoted as suggesting "We did hesitate on the panel to put this...
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October 20, 2006

The one-way Mary Whitehouse radio experience

I'm a little stuck for entertainment in the guest house I am staying at in Austria. The television can only receive a couple of fuzzy German language channels, and it is so old that I haven't been able to connect the PS2 to it either. I've been relying on some podcasts and downloading some old comedy shows. I've just started listening to the original radio series of The Mary Whitehouse Experience from Radio One, first broadcast in 1989. Most people...
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August 31, 2006

The New York Times and geo-location of internet users - what I might have said on Radio 4 yesterday

So you very nearly heard me on Radio 4 yesterday talking about the attempt by the New York Times to block UK readers from accessing a story published on their website about the recent terrorist arrests in my home town of Walthamstow - "best known for its faded greyhound track" as the article states. Sadly we couldn't get a good enough line on either of my phones out here in Greece to put me on air in the end. They...
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December 6, 2005

Vote for your favourite John Lennon track using our new system

This week BBC Radio 2 have a whole host of programming dedicated to remembering John Lennon. I don't suppose the 'Motown Junk' era Manics would have approved. The nation's favourite Lennon track is being chosen via an online vote, and I'm pleased to say it is the first high-profile vote on the BBC site to be using the new Online Voting Application that my team have been developing. One of the joys of the system is that the majority of...
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November 25, 2005

Five Live and George Best on the BBC Homepage

There was a lot of sport coverage on the BBC homepage today, for two very differing reasons. I was very pleased to see Radio Five Live's Greatest Team of All Time vote on the homepage. We know from previous experience with the Five Live Sporting Century and the Today programme's Greatest Painting votes that a homepage promotion is a real driver for people to participate in the vote, much more so than on-air trails. I think on-air trails provide a...
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October 22, 2005

Belam Senior On BBC Radio

My dad, Cllr Bob Belam, appeared on the Robert Elms show on BBC London yesterday, talking about London's forthcoming 20th New Year's Day Parade in his capacity as ex-Mayor of Waltham Forest. If you are interested you can listen again on demand (until next Friday's show appears I guess). You need to fast forward to ten minutes into the show....
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October 14, 2005

John Peel Day on Flickr and the BBC Homepage

Yesterday was "John Peel Day", which shared top-billing on the BBC homepage with Margaret Thatcher's birthday on the homepage. The Radio One site has got heaps of content from around the day - and you can listen again to the John Peel show. One thing that really caught my eye was the prominence given to gathering together photos from events all around the country. If you've got photos of your the gigs you've been putting on, we'd love to see...
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September 28, 2005

The Best Of The Best Woman's Hour Vote on BBC Radio Four

We've been running another literary vote for Radio 4 over this week, for the Woman's Hour programme. The "Best Of The Best" vote is to determine the best work of Woman's Fiction from the ten Orange prize winners in the decade since the prize was first awarded. The vote closes on Friday, and the results of the public vote will be broadcast on Monday October 3rd. A panel will announce the official winner the same evening. It hasn't generated nearly...
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September 20, 2005

Open Mic On Five Live

It is one of my favourite nights of the year - open mic night on Radio Five Live's Sport on Five. They are covering what would otherwise be a non-descript evening of early round Carling Cup football with 21 reporters at 21 grounds. A couple are ex-footballers making their journalistic debut, there is a chance to hear some of the BBC's regional sports reporters, and Steve Claridge is on as well. Currently one reporter is actually in with the Bournemouth...
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September 7, 2005

Greatest Painting Result In Print

The broadsheets and ex-broadsheets were writing plenty of column inches yesterday about the outcome of The Greatest Painting In Britain Vote. Nigel Reynolds' article in The Telegraph was pleased at the Britishness of it all: The competition was not confined to British paintings. Any work of any nationality in a British gallery open to the public was eligible. But it was satisfying that at the final count it came down to a fight between the two giants of English painting...
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September 5, 2005

Turner Prize - The Greatest Painting In Britain Vote Result

Yesterday, after watching the finish of the Tour Of Britain, I popped into The National Gallery. It reminded me that you can end up taking it for granted that the majority of our galleries and museums in the UK are free, for if they had been charging admission there is no way I would have paid to just visit for half-an-hour or so. I was actually in search not of a painting, but of an interactive kiosk. Apparently they had...
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September 4, 2005

Last Chance To Vote For Britain's Greatest Painting

Today is your last chance to vote for the Today programme's Greatest Painting in Britain, the result of which is due to be announced on air around 8am tomorrow. The number of online votes we have received so far has been staggering - over twice as many as we've ever had for any vote for which my team are collating the results. In case you are still unsure who to vote for, the BBC homepage is today rotating through the...
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August 24, 2005

Greatest Painting Vote Update

The short-list component of the Today programme's Greatest Painting in Britain vote is just over a week old now. It has certainly been the most successful vote my team have been involved with - it has already attracted just about twice as many online votes as our previous record, with nearly two weeks left to run. It has also continued to generate lots of press and lots of blogosphere hot air. Last week The Guardian's G2 devoted the front page...
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August 16, 2005

The Today Programme's Greatest Painting In Britain Vote

Yesterday alongside the BBC's Radio 4 web team, my team launched the online component of the vote for The Greatest Painting in Britain, which is being held by the Today programme in conjunction with The National Gallery. The open nomination period has passed, and now it is a case of voting for one of the ten paintings on the shortlist, all of which are on public display in the UK, if not by British artists. The result will be announced...
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June 23, 2005

He Thinks Therefore Michael Gove Is Not Voting Marx

Yesterday there were yet more column inches about the In Our Time Greatest Philosopher vote. Michael Gove in The Times wrote an entertaining piece called "I think therefore I am not voting Marx No 1". There aren't many places where Marxism still wins you elections. North Korea and Zimbabwe keep the flame of revolution alive, but they are not particularly good at doing the same for their citizens. Kim Jong Il and Robert Mugabe certainly know how to target uncommitted...
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June 22, 2005

Now In Our Time shows the BBC is "ignorant as well as biased"

The In Our Time Greatest Philosopher vote gained more press coverage on Monday, with an article in Peter Oborne's column for the Evening Standard entitled "Marx is so overrated": Long-term students of the BBC will not have been surprised to learn that Karl Marx looks set to be voted the world's greatest philosopher by Radio Four listeners. The decision shows the BBC is ignorant as well as biased. Marx was not a philosopher, he was a journalist with a deep...
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June 20, 2005

Beethoven vs The Crazy Frog

Interesting numbers coming out of the BBC's Beethoven download trial, with around 600,000 downloads of the symphonies that were made available as mp3 files. That shows an incredible pent-up demand for quality free classical music downloads from the BBC, especially when you consider that according to the RAJAR figures Radio 3's weekly reach is around 2 million adults. We've shown our support for the Download and Podcast trial by adding a link to it in the homepage's Radio box -...
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June 17, 2005

Cardiff Singer of the World Audience Vote

BBC Wales have opened their tri-media vote to determine the audience favourite in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. The vote closes on Sunday, and the announcement of the winner forms part of the final of the competition, which takes place on Sunday evening. The audience prize isn't the main part of the contest, which is decided by jury, but the winner of the vote which is being conducted on SMS, phone and online, gets a £2,500...
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June 10, 2005

If You Want To Outvote Marx....

Now I'm always very careful, even when I have got access to the results, not to let on how one of the BBC's online polls is going. Melvyn Bragg, on the other hand, delights in pointing out in this weeks In Our Time newsletter: (If you want to outvote Marx click here - Best wishes Melvyn Bragg Well, he might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment......
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In Our Time Greatest Philosophers Vote in The Guardian

Earlier this week there was some press coverage for the In Our Time Greatest Philospher Vote in The Guardian, featuring an interview with Melvyn Bragg by Oliver Burkeman, containing this paragraph: There is an element of ridiculousness to this initiative, and Bragg knows it. "I'm not terribly interested in the beauty-contest notion, even as applied to philosophy," he says. "Philosophers leapt on it, but I was a bit stand-to-one-side on it. As long as it doesn't interfere with the programme."...
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June 1, 2005

In Our Time Greatest Philosopher Vote

Yesterday the Guardian published a scathing attack by John Harris on a project that some of my team are involved in - to produce a vote for the In Our Time programme to determine the 'Greatest Philosopher'. Harris starts his article with an attack on the perceived populism of Greg Dyke. Whilst it is generally held to be true that you don't see the television programmes a Director General has influenced until a couple of years into their term of...
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May 22, 2005

Four radios and a wedding

Yesterday, instead of being on the annual F.A. Cup Currybet fancy dress pub-crawl from which this site takes its name, I was at an old school friend's wedding at Lympne Castle in Kent.    Many of the guests, myself included, also had a keen interest in events in Cardiff - and so once the ceremony finished went scuttling off to find any scraps of news about the match. I had bought my trusty radio, and I wasn't the only one....
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May 19, 2005

Vote to name the new Wembley footbridge on

Whilst I was away my team have helped BBC Radio Five Live put together the online vote to name the new footbridge at the re-built Wembley Stadium. The open suggestion submission process has ended, and Five Live are asking listeners to choose between a shortlist of five entries - Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst, Live Aid and The White Horse. The LDA reached the shortlist using a selection panel which included Jonathan Pearce, and of the...
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January 5, 2005

More music votes on

Most of the coverage on the BBC with the word "Asian" in it has been pretty bleak over the last week - but life goes on, and the BBC's Asian Network has this week launched a quest to find the most popular Asian film soundtracks of all time. If, like me, you are not actually au fait with many, or indeed, any, of the soundtracks listed, the voting page allows you to listen to clips from each nomination. It isn't...
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January 4, 2005

Bob Geldof is the Listener's Lord

So Bob Geldof was voted the Listener's Lord - and would even consider such a position. It was fun getting my hands dirty with data again to filter and produce the results - there was some quite hard "digital lobbeying" on behalf of a couple of the candidates ;-) In the end Geldof won by just over 1,000 - and I was pleased that this year around a third of the votes cast by the programme's listeners were done...
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December 29, 2004

Today's Listener's Lord

The Today programme's Listener's Lord vote is under way. The nomination list is slightly more eclectic than I was expecting - Camila Batmanghelidjh, James Dyson, Julia Higgins, Inderjit Singh and Bob Geldof are up for the honour. The vote closes on Friday - and I'm having fun this week as due to the number of people on holiday it is down to me to pick through and audit the voting data. It is nice to actually be getting my hands...
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December 23, 2004

Nominate your Listener's Lord

There is barely an hour and a half to go to get your nomination in for the Today programme's Listener's Lord vote - entries close at 9:30am this morning. After that the programme will be moving on to the second stage of the process, and you'll be able to vote online between Christmas and New year for who you think out of the shortlist most deserves to be enobled. The results are due to be announced on January 3rd....
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December 9, 2004

Voting prejudice

This week Woman's Hour announced that Pride and Prejudice was the winner in their Women's Watershed Fiction vote, which was run for Radio 4 by members of my team. The vote attracted over 14,000 users, which we were very pleased with. Still, there was an article in The Guardian's G2 section today about the result, which of course used images from the stunningly successful recent adaptation of the book for television - and of course, Colin Firth was featured...
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December 2, 2004

Last chance to vote in Radio Five Live's Sporting Year

Radio Five Live's Sporting Year got today's Christmas Present promotional treatment on the homepage - you'll have to hurry though, voting closes on December 3rd. You get to pick what you think are the five most significant sporting moments of last year from a nomination list, and then rate them in order. The results will form part of Five Live's review of the year, broadcast over the holiday season....
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November 22, 2004

BBC Radio Five Live's Sporting Year Vote

In the lead-up to Christmas the BBC is running several online votes that my team have produced. The latest one to launch is Radio Five Live's Sporting Year - essentially a poll of the listener's favourite events which will feed into the station's review of the year, broadcast over the Christmas period. It is a little less grandiose than 2003's Sporting Century vote in both scope and execution. This time we are asking users to pick and rate five...
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November 3, 2004

DCMS Review of the BBC's Digital Radio services

Over the last couple of weeks or so I have taken the time to read the whole of Tim Gardam's review into the BBC's digital radio services. Unexpectedly it has been an entertaining read, not least because of its lack of formality in his turn of phrase: I was appointed to lead this review, and on April 30th the Secretary of State announced the start of this process, along with Professor Patrick Barwise's parallel review of the BBC's digital television...
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October 26, 2004

John Peel

So farewell to John Peel, who died today of a sudden heart attack whilst on holiday in Peru. He was without a doubt the single most influential person on the way that my music taste developed (although my dad should get an honourary mention for letting me play his old Rolling Stones, Eddie Cochran, Elvis and Hollies 45s when I wanted to play at being a DJ when I was a very small youngster). I met him once years ago,...
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September 21, 2004

Carling Cup free-for-all on Five Live

Tonight was the second round of the little loved Carling Cup, when all the Premiership teams (except those who have qualified for European football) join in the "fun". You know a competition is on its last legs when even teams like Bolton, Preston and Sunderland are resting their first team and making up to ten changes from the players they put out on Saturday and Sunday in the league. This evening made for a great listen on Five Live though,...
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September 17, 2004

Gramophones and Grooves on Radio 4

This week I've been really enjoying a five part series broadcast on Radio 4 - Gramophones and Grooves - an exploration by David Owen Norris of 19th century sound recordings. It is astonishing to think that these sounds have survived on those fragile early formats for over one hundred years now. The shows included end of the 19th century popular tunes and the spoken word of course, but I also really enjoyed the ethnographical recordings - whether it was the...
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July 8, 2004

DCMS and Digital Radio

According to this story in yesterday's Independent, the DCMS is shortly to publish a report in which Tessa Jowell says "Later this year, I will be reviewing the take-up of digital radio and considering how long it would be appropriate for...broadcasting services to be provided in analogue form" The article goes on to quote Chris Kimber, Head of Interactive at BBC Radio & Music, extolling the virtues of interactivity based around radio output: "Only 10 years ago, radio was a...
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June 30, 2004

New Radio 3 site and a more open BBC all in one

At the end of last week a new Radio 3 website emerged blinking onto the interweb. It has been a while in the pipeline, and like any major change, hasn't received a 100% rapturous welcome from the users. For some reason people are so much more inclined to get the effort together to write "I Hate It" rather than, "Ooooh, nice new site, thank you" ;-) Dan Hill has bravely stuck his head above the parapet and attempted to...
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June 2, 2004

Zidane is the Radio Five Live Eurostar

On Monday Radio Five Live unveiled Zinedine Zidane as the winner of the Eurostars vote that I worked on. You can listen again to the programme via the Radio Player....
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May 17, 2004

Radio Five Live Veteran's Vote

"Over the weekend it became clear that the vote on the website was being attacked, and the sheer volume of fictitious votes meant it had to be taken down to protect the rest of the BBC website." And with those words this morning, Radio Five Live Breakfast presenter Shelagh Fogarty explained how my weekend had turned from a planned quiet one taking in the Eurovision Song Contest, a film and a relaxed braai, to one where I was on...
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April 25, 2004


The latest voting output I've had a hand in on went live yesterday. Eurostars is a chance to vote for the best European footballer of all time, as part of the build up to Euro2004. Radio Five Live will be counting down the outcome of the vote in a special programme before the final of the tournament itself. In truth, I didn't have a huge amount of input - except to complain about the failure to include Antonín...
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