As the BBC announces its coverage for this year’s Glastonbury Festival later this month, Radio 1 Controller Andy Parfitt has defended the number of people from the corporation working on the event.
BBC Radio 6 Music leads the radio coverage with non-stop broadcasts from the site over a number of days, with plenty more content due to air on Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2 and Radio 4. There’ll also be TV coverage on BBC 2, BBC 3 and BBC 4.
6 Music’s coverage will be presented by Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne, Shaun Keaveny, Cerys Matthews, Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish and will include live performances from across the stages, interviews with performers, regular festival news updates from the station’s expert music news team plus a voyage into the weird and wonderful far reaches of the festival.
Paul Rodgers, Editor, Radio 6 Music, says: “6 Music’s coverage of Glastonbury has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve from a small studio in a very big field. This year will be no exception and I know that we’ll be able to bring the best of the festival to our listeners.”
Most years the BBC faces criticism from parts of the press, keen to highlight the vast number of staff and freelancers sent to work on the festival. Last year there were 274 in the BBC team and we’re told this year the number will be lower at 263.
Writing on the BBC Blog, Andy Parfitt – the BBC’s Controller of Radio 1, 1Xtra and Popular Music – said: “Last year our coverage reached nearly 16 million people, was listened to by 5.7 million individuals and the website featured around 170 hours of video.”
He added: “As a former sound engineer, I’m going to tell you about the main Pyramid Stage sound for the Radio, TV and on-demand. We’re talking about delivering some of the world’s greatest artists (this year there’s U2, Coldplay and Beyoncé) to your TV, radio and computer in super quality. I can tell you that mixing the hundreds of sound feeds does not happen on mobile disco equipment – Sound II is the BBC’s big digital mobile music studio – a truck crammed with the highest possible quality mixing desk, monitoring and FX systems. Inside, our very best sound engineers work on a shift system to deliver great sound day and night; there are stage technicians who lay the cables and set the mics; and production assistants who log, time, quality check and upload hundreds of tracks so that the BBC Radio stations can play out live music in their Glastonbury specials.
“This is only one stage and only the sound – across a sprawling site which is bigger than Bath. There’s also the John Peel Stage, West Holts Stage, The Park Stage, Other Stage and BBC Introducing Stage with each one having dedicated technical points. And there are dozens more stages, tents and areas where music and comedy acts are doing their thing – so getting around the site with equipment and artists can be a real challenge. All this, even before we get to the multi hi-def camera points, the vision mixers, directors, vision control engineers, producers, the website techs and the fact that tons of kit has to be installed in a fairly remote valley in Somerset and taken down days later by riggers and drivers. I hope you’ll appreciate that this is why it takes the number of people it does to deliver the BBC’s high quality multi-platform content. I should add that as the broadcast partner, the BBC’s pictures are beamed across the world with BBC WorldWide selling rights to coverage overseas and generating funds to be invested back into the BBC for making programmes.”
He concluded: “And this is certainly no ‘junket’. There’s no BBC corporate hospitality and any BBC executives attending will also be working. Every member of staff onsite has a clear and accountable role – working hard and extremely long hours to offer unparalleled coverage. The people who work at the festival are some of the most dedicated, talented hard-working and professional crew I have come across in my career – and I have been around a long time!”