BBC Radio 4’s Feedback show has featured the new national show with Mark Forrest, with listeners voicing concerns over the output.
The Mark Forrest Show started last Monday on 39 local radio stations across England and the Channel Islands, replacing a large number of local and regional programmes.
Programmes such as Eric Hall’s Monster Memories show on BBC Essex will go completely, but others including BBC Radio Shropshire’s Jazz with John Hellings and Sue Marchant’s Big Night In on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire will move to a shorter weekend slot.
Roger Day, who presented the nightly 7pm-10pm show in the South East of England on six local stations, now has a three hour Sunday show instead and has started his own internet station.
After listening to the first show, one listener in Solent said: “The closing of the sports stadium in Sheffield is of no interest to me whatsoever.”
Nick Garner from BBC Essex said: “Most of it was not relevant at all – but one of our big challenges is to make those stories relevant – we look at the stories elsewhere and try and twist it to ask what have you done to save buildings local to you.”
“We need local radio for our roads,” one listener said.
Travel news continues but is regional rather than local – with only 12 regional variations serving 39 stations.
Stations can opt-out for local sport coverage and for special situations such as extreme weather conditions. Tonight, BBC Tees will be local to cover the current snow situation.
David Holdsworth, Controller, BBC English Regions, said before the show started: “We’re very excited by the potential of this programme which will bring together a widerange of voices from across BBC local radio.
Mark Forrest: “This is a tremendous opportunity. Not only is this a brand new show that will be syndicated across all BBC local radio stations but it has simply never beendone before. I’m hosting a programme that will take the very best stories from around the country and discuss them with a national audience. That is a challenge but a very exciting one.”
The show is broadcast from BBC Radio Leeds each weeknight from 7pm till 10pm, when stations return to local or regional programmes for a Late Show.