A Slot for BBC Introducing in a DQF Age

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Let me start by saying BBC Introducing is something very close to my heart.

The first ever time I ever walked into a radio studio was at BBC Introducing in Lincolnshire (firstly with a band I was in – we were totes going to be huge – then later to make tea and sit in the corner when I caught the radio bug). Later, whilst at university, I was part of a team of two (myself and Alan Raw, the presenter and a new music hero by all accounts) who set up BBC Radio Leeds‘ first dedicated Introducing show. Previously they had taken BBC Humberside’s show and broadcast it on DAB only, before ditching it altogether. It seemed crazy that Leeds – being the thriving music community that it is – didn’t have its own new music show on the Beeb. So we pitched the idea, and started with a two hour pre-recorded show that went out late on a Wednesday night, and later turned into a three hour live show at 7 o’clock on a Thursday evening (this fact will become important in a moment).

This week the big changes to BBC Local Radio were announced as part of DQF. Naturally I scrolled through the (very dry) document to find out what would happen to the Introducing strand.

Now, someone else can comment on the changes that’ll affect the Nations & Regions shows. Here I’m concerned more with the Local shows.

So the first thing to catch my eye was to see that 7pm – 10pm slot becoming not just regionalised but nationalised. “On weekday evenings (19:00 – 22:00) all stations will join together for a new all England programme, although stations can opt-out for local sports coverage.” So no option to go back to one shared show from Humberside covering Yorkshire (a viable option in my opinion) but indeed the slot is scrapped altogether.

But all is not lost. Alan does his BBC Humberside show on a Sunday night. There have been talks of sharing Sunday evenings across regions, so maybe a syndicated show at the end of the weekend?

Sadly not.

“To increase levels of sharing programming in off-peak slots: weekday afternoons, Sunday afternoons and evenings.”

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Now I’ve moved on to other things (although I miss Alan and the show dearly), so I got on the phone to the chap who succeeded me to see what was going on.

We talked about the chances of a shared regional show that covered Yorkshire, which would involve BBC Sheffield, York, Leeds and Humberside agreeing to share a show, but would of course give unsigned artists less of a chance to get on the wireless (which is what it’s all about, right?). Although they would reach more people, the larger catchment area would mean more competition to get on air.

The very reason we pitched for, and started, a Leeds-only show was because the local music community deserves it and is big enough and vibrant enough to warrant it. I don’t need to tell you about all the many bands and artists – chart toppers and newbies – that have put Leeds in the musical map. The fact that Leeds didn’t already have its own show was staggering!

So to take a step back to a regional shared show I think would have been a workable option, but a shame.

Back to the conversation with my successor. He text me back after a station briefing, in which it was explained to him that it looks like the show would be moving to a different slot and would be pre-recorded. So good on the bosses at Leeds for recognising the value of BBC Introducing in the service they offer, and for now the show hangs on in there. Just about.

What’s going on with the BBC Introducing show where you are as a result of DQF? I welcome your comments here and you can find me @GrahamAlbans on Twitter to carry on the conversation.

In a blog soon I’ll post a big bit of my university degree research I did into the value of BBC Introducing in UK radio. That’ll be fun.

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