Radio stations – including local services covering London, Bristol, Nottingham, Birmingham and Liverpool – have been putting in extra resource to cover rioting and looting as the violence spread to parts of the UK other than the capital.
BBC Radio 5 Live are changing their schedule for tonight, and moving sports programming to digital service 5 Live Sports Extra to allow continuing news coverage on the main channel.
A spokesman for 5 Live told RadioToday.co.uk: “Last night we did make some changes to accommodate the important breaking story that was the disturbances. There were 15 minute news updates throughout 5 live sport to give the latest news and the Adil Ray show that normally starts at 1030 came on air at 9pm instead.”
Tonight (Tues), 5 live Drive will be extended by an hour to 8pm and will be followed by a 5 live news special presented by Stephen Nolan 8-10.30pm. The Carling Cup football night moves in full to 5 Live Sports Extra from 7pm, hosted by Mark Chapman, enabling the BBC to show exactly why having a sister DAB service can be so beneficial at times like these.
Absolute Radio had extended news coverage through the breakfast show from 6am, while talkSPORT‘s Alan Brazil show – normally a sports phone-in – took calls from across London and the UK to find out how listeners had been affected and also had live reports from Ian Abrahams in Lavender Hill, Battersea. UTV also say Keys and Gray have kept people as informed as possible with up-to-date news about upcoming sports events throughout the morning, like the England-Holland friendly tomorrow evening and the Third Test at Edgbaston in cricket, as well as this weekend’s football fixtures. Labour MP Tom Watson – who’s become a famous face in recent weeks through his role on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee – also appeared on the show to talk about the role of social media in the riots. talkSPORT evening presenter and former footballer Stan Collymore has also joined the community clean-up in Birmingham.
At Global, LBC has been leading coverage with extended news, reaction and discussion since Saturday evening when the first riots in Tottenham started. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg took part in an exclusive Q&A session for LBC listeners last night where he was interviewed by Iain Dale. The Heart and Capital networks both ran hourly news bulletins overnight and will be doing the same again tonight.
A spokesman for LBC told us they’d had an unprecedented 20,000 calls from listeners in the last 24-hours alone. He added: “The calls have included a musician who phoned Nick Ferrari’s breakfast show this morning because her flat had been burned down in the riots in Ealing and a shopkeeper who had his optician business robbed and smashed up last night. Londoners want to talk about the riots and they are proving to be LBC’s eyes and ears throughout the crisis.”
A spokeswoman for BBC London 94.9 told us the station had been in virtual rolling news since Saturday night with extended news and travel bulletins. “Travel has been remarkably helpful as they can see all the main high streets traffic cameras,” she added. Tony Blackburn’s show on Sunday was replaced by Eddie Nestor to extend coverage, while Dotun Adebayo’s Sunday evening programme was lengthened by two hours. Eddie Nestor presented drivetime live from Tottenham yesterday and was extended by an hour to 8pm before live coverage continued back in the studio. This afternoon, drive is starting two hours earlier at 3pm, meaning Danny Baker isn’t on air.
In Birmingham, about ten staff at BBC WM were unable to go home at the end of their late shift last night as rioting spread to the perimeter of the Mailbox complex where studios are based. Rather than opting into 5 live at 1am as usual, WM kept broadcasting through the night, with regular network two-ways. “They did a terrific job,” WM Managing Editor Keith Beech told us.
Orion Media’s networked evening talk show ‘The Sanctuary’ was extended through the night with live reports from the scene of trouble in Birmingham from reporter Dan Dawson. Broadcast on brmb as well as Beacon, Mercia and Wyvery, the programme had news updates at least every 20 minutes and regular traffic bulletins with news of road closures. Dan then co-presented the morning breakfast bulletins from the scene of last night’s disruption. Orion tell us they quadrupled the number of visits to the brmb player last night and saw two weeks’ worth of page impressions on their website in one night as visitor numbers shot up to 21,000 (compared with 2,500 for the average Monday). brmb also report more than a thousand new Facebook ‘likes’ and 500 new Twitter followers as a result of their coverage.
GMG Radio has extended its bulletins on Smooth Radio and its Real Radio stations to cover the aftermath of the riots. A spokeswoman told us: “We have a reporting team in London covering events and are also collaborating with journalists in our wider group at The Guardian. Smooth Radio’s Simon Bates has been interviewing those affected by the unrest on this morning’s breakfast show and Real Radio will carry a news special this lunchtime.”
In the North West, GMG had reporters out through the night in Liverpool as riot police clashed with yobs. Reports from Merseyside were included in Real Radio’s 15-minute news special at 1pm. In Yorkshire, Real Radio tell us they had a reporter in Leeds until midnight after a shooting, a car being set on fire and reports of around 100 youths causing trouble. Police sent the helicopter over the area in Chapeltown (which was involved the riots of the 1980s) as a precaution. Real’s reporter was back on the scene from 6am providing updates for breakfast bulletins.
BBC Radio Bristol were live at the scene of the Bristol disturbances with their Chief Reporter Nigel Dando who painted the picture of the devastation. Nigel also reported into sister stations BBC Somerset and BBC Gloucestershire. News Editor Tamsin Curnow was in regular contact with Avon & Somerset Police overnight and secured the force’s first media interview for the breakfast show with Steve Le Fevre. A station spokesperson told us: “It was a fantastic team effort with our news editor doing overnight 2-ways for BBC 5Live and instantly making all the local information and audio available on wires and GNS to assist our colleagues in network radio and television. BBC Radio Bristol material was heavily used on the news channel and BBC Breakfast as well as Radio 4 and 5Live.”
What has your station been doing differently to cover the riots? Get in touch to let us know and we’ll add it to this article.