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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

From the archives - 2

In August 2010 I had an email from JV following a whole load of "this is of no interest to me" emails that I had sent. He asked me to suggest a topic for discussion on his show. At first I suggested "Nothing at all" but I asked for time to think about it. I sent him this:

Dear Jeremy,

I have given your invitation considerable thought over the past 24 hours, and although I could suggest several topics for discussion there is a bigger issue here. That issue is, of course, the placing of your show (a) on Radio 2, and (b) in the middle of the day.

As you know, I am self-employed and work at home. Our day starts just before 8am when the radio alarm wakes us and we listen to Radio 2's 8am news bulletin. My wife leaves for work at 8:40 and I am then on my own until she returns during the afternoon. Radio 2 is my companion and my contact with the outside world as it provides entertainment, humour and brief news bulletins. I find Chris's show listenable but bordering on irritating, Ken's is superb, Steve's is excellent, and I have been a huge fan of Simon Mayo since his days on the Radio 1 breakfast show. They all provide what I want, and what I expect, from Radio 2.

In the middle lies your show, which I find the radio equivalent of fingernails scraping down a blackboard. There are a number of reasons for this...

I generally do not trust news bulletins and reporters as I feel that they now focus too much on ratings and less on detailed and accurate reporting. This opinion is based on their reporting of news stories relating to a subject in which I have considerable interest. Events are reported as fact but are full of huge inaccuracies, despite the availability of the correct information if only somebody could be bothered to do their job and ask! I figure that if reporters can get these stories so wrong then what else are they getting wrong? How can they be trusted to tell me the truth? The answer, in my mind, is that they cannot, so why should I listen to what they tell me? If I hear an interesting story on the news (and that is a rare occurence) then my immediate reaction is to say to myself, "OK, that is what they want me to think, but what has really happened?". It is then time to disect the story, remove the inaccuracies and form my own opinion. I really, really object to being told what to think by journalists and reporters, whose main aim seems to be to sensationalise a story for maximum effect and conveniently forget that not all of us will be spoon-fed their diatribes. Unfortunately, I include your goodself in this.

My major issue with your show is that, frankly, I do not see the point of it. The old saying is "talk is cheap" but it is actions that matter. What is the point of discussing topic xyz if nothing then changes? Sure, a few people have had a rant, raised their blood pressure and knocked a few days off of their lives, but it achieves precisely nothing. I was in full-time employment when Jimmy Young hosted the lunchtime show so I rarely heard him, but I believe that he used to champion causes (pensions?) close to his heart and make a difference. I would give your show more credence if you did the same and it actually changed something for the better, whether I agree with it or not. Your show would then serve a purpose, other than filling two hours with twaddle.

It comes down to the fact, I suppose, that I am not your target audience (who is?) and I simply do not care or have the time to form an opinion on the stories that you discuss.

For the past few weeks I have been sending you a daily email explaining why I won't be listening to today's show. I do this so that you and your team know that your show repeatedly fails to meet my expectations of Radio 2. My experience is that I am not alone in my disliking for your programme, and yes I know that you have x million listeners, but I am wondering if those x million are people who can't be bothered to turn off rather than those who choose to listen. I guess we will never know.

Have a great weekend!

JV's response was to send another topic invitation. A couple of weeks later while reading a book I found the topic that I wanted to be discussed...


Here is one for you...

In his book "Adventures on the High Teas" published in 2009 your fellow Radio 2 presenter Stuart Maconie writes (on page 335):

"Every day, hours of the output of supposed news programmes is given over to phone-ins in which the dim and the bigoted, the ill-informed bore who nonetheless is 'entitled to his own opinion', the single-issue nutter and the monomaniac fundamentalist vie to see who can shout the loudest."

Is the Jeremy Vine show an exception to Mr Maconie's broad statement, or does it fit his description exactly?

Your studio guest would be, of course, Stuart Maconie.

Now that I would listen to, and I would stop doing everything else while I did so. A topic worthy of a full two hours, maybe?

JV's response this time was to dismiss my suggestion as "preposterous" that listeners should not be able to air their views. My view is that I could not care less what Beryl from Scunthorpe thinks about the price of tinned peas.