Cuts To BBC London Radio: A Cabbie's View

By Londonist Last edited 82 months ago
Cuts To BBC London Radio: A Cabbie's View


Black cab driver John Kennedy gives his personal views on the proposed cuts to BBC London radio.

The management of the BBC have decided to slash budgets under the banner of 'Delivering Quality First', as a consequence of the Coalition freezing the licence fee for the term of this parliament – in effect, a cut in real terms due to inflation.

The saddest proposed cuts are the ones that will decimate BBC local radio services across the UK, but especially here in London. The editor of BBC London 94.9 FM is a chap called David Robey, and I've always been amazed at the content he's managed to fit into London's 24/7 licence-fee-funded radio station. The station hosts shows of general interest but also ensures minority communities get their say. It has always allowed myself and colleagues from the London taxi trade to air our views and opinions, often including grievances with TfL and the Mayor of London.

If these proposals go ahead, the station will lose the overnight show presently hosted by Nikki Bedi who took over after the death of 'Big George Webley' (Have I Got News For You theme tune composer). Nikki has brought a new perspective to overnight radio with intelligence, laughter and Indian culture. She's filled the void left by George remarkably well.

George was a friend, but also a mentor to me. At his vigil, I told those present that the BBC would have a battle on its hands if they sought to destroy local radio. Well the BBC have decided to threaten shows and slots like Robert Elms, Danny Baker, nearly all the sports coverage and the late show which JoAnne Good presents. Tune in and you'll hear new bands, young energetic talent and the UK's only radio show dedicated to dogs on Thursday evenings.

I'm saddened that the management of the Corporation can't hear the voices of people who rely on radio, people who are elderly, infirm and those of us who are working late at night in taxi-cabs, hospitals, emergency services or simply stacking shelves.

So next Friday at 6pm (28 October) some of us will return to Portland Place outside Broadcasting House and demonstrate our disgust at a budget cut of 25% that will destroy BBC London 94.9 FM.

If you can attend please do – bring a torch and wrap up warm. We have a blog www.savebbclondon949.blogspot.com or join the facebook community Save BBC Radio London & tweet @savelocalradio you can help by contacting the BBC Trust and asking them to reverse this sad decision at www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust. You have a few more weeks to get involved in the consultation.

The BBC has an annual revenue stream of nearly £5 billion. Are the management so celebrity obsessed that they can't protect the crown that holds the jewels that is BBC radio broadcasting.

By John Kennedy

Last Updated 23 October 2011