Specialist Music And BBC Local Radio

(This feature was first published in the News section of the Other World Music page of Rainlore's World of Music on 2011/01/17 and was given minor updates on 2011/01/23)


The campaigns to have DJ Ritu's A World in London and Mick & Lester's Folkwaves shows reinstated and to preserve diversity and specialist music programming on BBC Local Radio continue to garner strength and support.

January 1st saw the - for now! - final broadcast of DJ Ritu's A World in London (see photo at right). Thus, there have now been two installments of the programme that replaced it on BBC London 94.9, The Sunny & Shay Show. In that relatively short space of time, the latter has already managed to attract a number of less than complimentary nicknames, and with good reason rather than mere disgruntlement by devoted AWiL listeners.

Having listened to both of these first two shows in full, it has to be said that The Sunny & Shay Show is the worst piece of radio broadcasting by a large margin that it has ever been my misfortune to endure. The standard of presentation as well as production falls well short of anything that could be termed remotely professional. Indeed, any producer worthy of that job title should have pulled the plug on these two wannabe presenters within the first five minutes of the first show. It beggars belief how such a sub-standard show could be inflicted on the listening public over British airwaves, and especially by the BBC.

Photo of DJ Ritu presenting the final AWiL
DJ Ritu presenting the -for now - last A World in London on 1st January, 2011
Photo courtesy of and © Lena Leong

For those not familiar with the subject, the two wannabe presenters in question are married couple Sunny (m) and Shay (f) Grewal who appeared on a 'reality TV' show called The Family last year. As far as can be ascertained, they appear to have no prior qualifications or experience that would qualify or prepare them for a role as presenters of any kind of radio programme. They certainly and most evidently have no natural aptitude whatsoever for it. It would appear then that Mr. & Mrs. Grewal's sole 'qualification' for presenting a radio show is the circumstance that they are considered Z-list (wannabe) so-called celebrities.

On The Sunny & Shay Show, these two wannabe wannabes manage to come across as utterly inane, uncultured, and even ignorant, to the point of being nauseating.

But what of the actual content of this show? Alas, it fares no better than its 'presenters' or, come to that, its producer. From inane to patronising and back. The content is highly - indeed, you could easily believe entirely - Asian-/Indo-centric and certainly seems to exclude the vast number of other ethnic communities represented in London. Indeed, you might be forgiven for thinking you tuned into the BBC's Asian Network! Grewal & Grewal's sole connection with London itself is clearly the fact that they are now employed by the BBC, and they display an utter and utterly shocking lack of knowledge - let alone understanding - of London and its geography, landmarks, history, and its ethnic and cultural diversity. The music presented on The Sunny & Shay Show is either desi or mainstream, just the thing to be relevant to and representative of London's rich diversity. Not. Interestingly, all the artists that have appeared on the show thus far appear to be represented by the same agent as Mr. & Mrs. G. Surely a conflict of interests? And of what conceivable interest pray could the G.'s constant references to and even 'Q and A' interludes with their families be to anybody outside the family or immediate circle of friends?

If you want to find out more of the sordid details of the inane, banal detritus that constitutes The Sunny & Shay Show, please pop over to Save DJ Ritu's A World in London show on BBC London on Facebook, you'll find plenty there.

Quite apart from the wholly unprofessional presentation and production of this show and the equally sub-standard nature of its content, it is really impossible to see how it can possibly meet BBC London's own stated aims of a news and talk based show that is easily accessible to all and inclusive, as well as representative of the rich diversity of London. It is equally impossible to comprehend how The Sunny & Shay Show could meet BBC Local Radio's remit under the terms of its broadcasting license.

DJ Ritu's now (hopefully only temporarily) defunct A World in London show did all this and more (and, I dare say, at a considerably lower cost too) with ease and grace. It was a talk based show also presenting non-mainstream music from all kinds of London's many communities, it was easily accessible, wholly inclusive and as fully representative of London's rich diversity as it is possible to be. AWiL presented highly relevant local news of music gigs and other cultural events representing London's diverse communities, and furthermore provided enlightening interviews with artists based in London from many if not most of these communities. In fact, in a mere four years, or roughly 200 shows, DJ Ritu interviewed artists from no less than 63 different nationalities, and played CD tracks from many more - no mean achievement in itself. Moreover, AWiL was presented and produced by DJ Ritu to the highest professional standards, while always staying entertaining and informative. AWiL seems indeed tailor-made to fulfill the BBC's Local Radio remit. What DJ Ritu did not do was insult the intelligence of her listeners.

The latter is precisely what the new show does.

The Save AWiL campaign last week published a summary of the impact of the loss of the show and of feedback from listeners and supporters on the AWiL blog, reproduced here in full:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Impact of Losing A World in London

So now that DJ Ritu's A World in London has been axed what are the consequences?

• DJ Ritu is the ONLY UK representative of the influential EBU World Music Panel. Without this show on the BBC, London/UK musicians will not have a wider voice in Europe

• Without the 'brand BBC', London artists will have little or no wider mainstream exposure

• Musicians, will lose out on airplay and royalties as well as publicity for upcoming gigs

• Venues will have less places to promote, potentially impacting on audience attendance

Feedback from listeners/supporters

• AWiL (and Charlie Gillett's The Sound of the City before that) provided the best portal there was to help me discover more and more of the different varieties of ethnic/world music represented in London

• It also helped me enormously in better understanding and appreciating different communities. It's always been an education as much as it has been hugely enjoyable entertainment.

• It [AWiL] was their best and only real hope [for exposure or airplay]

• It means world music lovers will listen to the BBC less and less

• That my local BBC station is moving to be mostly speech-based, when LBC have already cornered that market.

• We need to have different ideas on the culture of all people, we need to know, to hear, to feel the mix of culture that put our society in a rich social system and world music is one and part of this important way to bring people and mind open

• If AWIL goes, this will break a system that contribute greatly to UK economy and cultural image around the world

1 comments: Outerglobe linked with WOM@ TT said... As a promoter, marketeer, artist consultant and still with very open ears .... I feel very short changed by BBC London now ... This is what I will miss - and the people I link with: BBC London base to announce my and my artists and the others I support through pr work 's events (and also have them sent out to huge mailing list - and thus see what other events are forthcoming), pitch music and have it played; have people I link with readily interviewed; hear new music from Londoners - and others and have the playlist readily shared, great show to listen to on a Saturday evening - on any airwave live, opportunity to listen again to catch up or enjoy all over again, recommendation of the music onwards - or referral point for future venues/labels ...insightful, enjoyable, informative, risk taking interviews over a whole hour with people from everywhere in London - and the world - very rare anywhere on any media, a chance for representation of my artists (and others too) releases on the wide European network, ready international exposure through the online live and listen again facility ... 13 January, 2011 15:01

(Reproduction from AWiL Blog © Save DJ Ritu's A World in London show on BBC London campaign. All rights reserved.)

BBC London 94.9 and its head, David Robey, appear increasingly impotent in dealing with the complaints of listeners about the new Sunny & Shay Show as well as demands to reinstate DJ Ritu's A World in London. Understandably, Robey has to defend the new show, it is after all his 'baby' and failure could possibly cost him his job. However, how do you defend the clearly indefensible? Robey faces an impossible task - in defending a wholly unprofessional show like The Sunny & Shay Show, he increasingly leaves himself open to accusations of being unprofessional himself, not to mention open to ridicule. David Robey and his station have managed to fight themselves into a corner that they find increasingly impossible to get out of.

I must confess that personally, given the large audience for a local radio programme that AWiL attracted (about par with that of Tony Blackburn's show) and given that many of the musicians who benefited from exposure on AWiL are nominally represented on the AWiL Facebook page, I am a little disappointed that many of them seem so slow in coming forward to actively support the campaign. I should like to call upon them here again to stand up and be counted! Also, anybody who has not yet done so, please join the campaign and do whatever you can to help to get this unique programme reinstated on BBC London.

You can find out more about how you can help A World in London and join the campaign by following any of these links:

Save DJ Ritu's A World in London show on BBC London on Facebook
Save AWiL Blog
On twitter
Save AWiL Online Petition

You can also follow DJ Ritu on her own web site.

The AWiL campaign also hopes to organise a protest/support gig sometime soon. That certainly should be something to look forward to, although it would be preferable by far if this were not necessary in the first place.

Save  AWiL Logo

DJ Ritu Logo

Meanwhile, Mick Peat and Lester Simpson's Folkwaves programme on BBC Radio Derby and East Midlands ended a few days earlier than A World in London, and its 'replacement' has been running a bit longer as a result, as it is a Monday to Friday show. The three-hour Richard Spurr Show, broadcast from Nottingham, not only killed (hopefully only temporarily) Folkwaves, but also the other specialist music shows on East Midlands radio, Mick Smith's Country Music Show, Celtic Fringe and Jazz Incorporated, presented by Chris Moore and concentrating on and supporting local jazz musicians and gigs. All of the latter losses are equally lamentable and, it is to be hoped, will not be permanent either.

Having since listened to one full three-hour Richard Spurr Show (Tuesday, January 11th), it has to be said that it is equally difficult or rather impossible to see how this show meets the requirements of BBC Local Radio's broadcasting license remit, as in the case of The Sunny & Shay Show and BBC London 94.9.

Going by the installment of the Richard Spurr Show listened to, it is at least professionally presented and produced, and it is at least inoffensive although utterly bland and it has a high content of 'Golden Oldies.' There is nothing there that one could not find on any number of other local or national stations. The show very quickly becomes just 'background noise,' it simply fails to hold the attention. Little or none of the content seems in any way relevant either locally or regionally, and it might just as well have been broadcast from London.

The Richard Spurr Show's 'inoffensive' nature would seem since to have changed, as it appears that a 'psychic,' one Linda Lancashire, and her 'psychic poodles' Hilda and Tululah, have been added to the show to present horoscopes or some such 'psychic' perfect nonsense. Although the dogs themselves only seem to appear in the form of a pre-recorded 'rough, rough,' having managed to listen to the first appearance of this so-called 'psychic' since the original comments, as one would expect this segment can only be described as barking mad.

Quite justly, this latter bright idea generated a great deal of merriment among Folkwaves campaigners. One really has to wonder just Who let the mad dogs out! Rrrough!

There is very little else to say about the Richard Spurr Show, other than that it is impossible to fathom how this show could in any way be of any substantial or substantive local/regional interest or character. As for being 'news and talk based,' certainly the news aspect is impossible to see at all, apart from the hourly or half-hourly news bulletin which also could just as well have come from London for the most part.

The Folkwaves campaign held a meeting at the Assembly Rooms in Derby on Sunday afternoon. This brief summary from campaign co-ordinator John Greenwood:

' 22 attended the meeting. The Mid Winter Revels followed (150 there with 18 Derbyshire Volunteers, music, singing and dancing). Susie Briggs chaired. We set up an activists steering committee to meet on 24th. Good discussion. Key actions decided. Mick Peat wished us well. There was unity of passion and purpose. The campaign enters a new stage. More to follow. Upward and onward.'

The newly formed steering committee will be holding a further meeting on Monday, 24th January. A protest meeting at the BBC Folk Awards is also planned for Monday 7th February.

Folkwaves Campaign Logo

For those who either missed the last Folkwaves show on 27th December 2010, or feel nostalgic, courtesy of Ralphie Jordan here's the complete show in two parts, Hour 1 and Hour 2, minus most of the music of course due to copyright reasons.

To all supporters and aficionados of any kind of specialist music who haven't done so yet, I would like to appeal again to join the campaign to have Folkwaves reinstated and support the cause! You can find out more here:

Save' Folkwaves' on BBC Radio Derby on Facebook

Folk Waves 1 by Eloise01
Folk Waves 2 by Eloise01

A list of currently still available folk music programmes on radio and elsewhere has now also been compiled thanks to the Folkwaves campaign. (This may be incomplete and generally does not include most of the non-English regions' programmes. There are, for instance, quite a number on BBC Scottish services, both English and Gaelic language services.)

Folk Music Programmes on BBC Local Radio

Sundays at 13:00 - Johnny Coppin, BBC Gloucestershire (104.7FM). Also available on iPlayer
Sundays at 17:00 - Richard Digance, Radio Devon (103.4FM). Also available on iPlayer
Sundays at 19:00 - Radio Shropshire (96FM). Also available on iPlayer
Sundays at 20:00 - Durbervilles, Radio Leeds (92.4FM). Also available on iPlayer
Sundays at 21:00 - Kent Folk (96.7FM). Also available on iPlayer
Wednesdays at 18:30 - Radio Lincoln (94.9FM). Also available on iPlayer
Thursdays at 20:05 - Travelling Folk, Radio Scotland (92-95FM). Also available on iPlayer
Fridays at 20:00 - The Drift, Radio Lancashire (95.5FM). Also available on iPlayer
Saturdays at 19:00 - Frank Hennessy, Celtic Heartbeat, Radio Wales (93-104FM). Also available on iPlayer
Saturdays at 20:03 - Colum Sands, Radio Ulster (92-95FM). Also available on iPlayer

Folk Music Programmes on Commercial Local Radio

(Alt.) Tuesdays at 19.00 - Tulip Radio (Spalding area, Lincs.) also live online. Presented by Elizabeth Padgett, 2 hours. (Next show: 1st February) (Alternates with Richard Howell's Blues Show)
Thursdays at 19:00 - Eye Radio (103FM) Folk, Blues and Beyond (repeated Tuesdays at 22:00)
Thursdays at 19:00 - Hermitage Folk (99.2FM)

Folk Music Programmes on BBC National Radio

Wednesdays at 19:00 - Radio 2 (88-91FM). Also available on iPlayer

Folk Music Programmes on Community Radio

Fridays at 10:00 - Radio Sheffield (93.2FM). Also available as podcast
For more information on Community Radio and possible other Folk programmes there please see the Community Radio web site.

Folk Music Programmes on the Web

Folk Radio UK

Of course, do bear in mind that any of the above radio programmes could be under threat at any time and likely at short notice, so be vigilant!

There is some limited good news also especially for country music enthusiasts in that Mick Smith is continuing his country music show online on his web site. There are also some videos available on YouTube. This effort is of course highly laudable, but alas will miss a good number of its audience who do not have (nor, in many if not most cases, do not wish to have) internet access. But, until this excellent programme returns to our airwaves, Mick Smith certainly deserves kudos and thanks for his valiant efforts to keep the show going.

In the meantime, join the Save' Folkwaves' on BBC Radio Derby campaign and help preserve diversity in broadcasting.

More news from both the A World in London and Folkwaves campaigns will continue on an ongoing basis.


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