Thursday, 28 June 2012

Radio Reveiws: 29 June

The BBC must rethink its cuts to regional radio, says Louis Barfe

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-newBWThe proposed cutbacks in BBC local radio sadden me hugely. The best local and regional radio presenters connect with their listeners on a level that those on the network can only dream about. When I moved to the East Anglian coast a decade ago, I became fascinated with the degree to which some of them were true celebrities.

The leader of the pack was the twinkly Norvicensian curmudgeon Roy Waller on BBC Radio Norfolk, to whose show I eventually became a regular contributor, helping judge talent competitions and generally blathering. When Waller died a couple of years ago, there was a packed-to-capacity memorial service at Norwich Cathedral. On his patch, Roy was a star.

Fortunately, Waller's legacy is in good hands. His old afternoon show is in the care of Stephen Bumfrey, a risqué surrealist with a lively mind and a genuine interest in his guests.

I also became fascinated with Richard Spendlove's Saturday evening regional show, which continues. A former stationmaster and comedy writer, Spendlove's jingles inform us that we are listening to 'Richard Spendlove MBE'. (When fellow BBC man Keith 'Cardboard Shoes' Skues received the same honour, Spendlove instructed him to use it to the full. Skues has, thus far, declined.) It is a three-hour miscellany of mostly terrible music and forthright opinions, in which the host and his listeners put the world to rights. It's clear that the listeners think that if they and Spendlove ran the country, there would be civility, decency, respect and a complete lack of crime. Just like in the 1950s, when you could leave your front door open and homicides hardly ever happened. It's like being trapped in a bar with people who write 'strong' letters to the Daily Mail, but I relish the 20 minutes I catch waiting for Paul Barnes to start.

Last week's show coincided with Spendlove's birthday. One of his listeners had written a poem for the occasion. There should be a moratorium on reading out punters' doggerel on the wireless. I hope the BBC's incoming DG takes notice of The Lady on this front (not that any BBC DG should ignore us on anything) and makes the matter a sacking offence.

Stephen Bumfrey, BBC Radio Norfolk, weekdays, 12 noon to 4pm.

Richard Spendlove, BBC local radio stations in the south and east, Saturdays, 8pm to 11pm.


The aforementioned Keith Skues can be heard every Sunday night on BBC eastern region stations from 11pm to 1am with an eclectic 1960sheavy playlist and an eccentric but avuncular manner. His former Radio 1 colleague John Peel was a regular listener and fan. No higher endorsement is necessary.

Follow Louis on Twitter: @LadyWireless or email him at: 

Louis also has a new blog on

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