BBC Local Radio to drop shared evening show

The BBC Director General Tony Hall has announced that the evening programme, shared across Local Radio stations in England, will end after 5 years and be replaced with locally-made programmes instead.

Planned cuts to BBC Local Radio budgets have also been cancelled.

Speaking at the Gillard Awards at Coventry Cathedral on the 50th anniversary of the launch of the UK’s first local radio station, BBC Radio Leicester, Lord Hall said the corporation would invest in BBC Local Radio to make it ‘even more local and more creative’.

The DG announced that the £10m savings target, set out as part of the review into the BBC’s local and regional services, had been cancelled. He said that the BBC would instead relying on its ‘broader efficiency savings’ to ensure that Local Radio budgets were protected. The corporation will set out its full plans next year.

Lord Hall announced that there would be more creative freedom for Editors of BBC Local Radio stations and more partnerships with local organisations – as well as an apparent broadening of target audiences. “Local Radio should be for everybody,” he said. “It’s there to serve the Facebook generation as much as the rest of us.”

He also said there would be a creativity fund, a community action team based at each station and more input on digital platforms – which would be aimed at audiences of all ages.

Perhaps the most surprising moment of his speech came when he revealed that the shared evening programme – which has been broadcast across all of the BBC’s Local Radio stations in England for the last 5 years – will end next summer and be replaced by local programming. It is currently hosted by Georgey Spanswick, and before that was fronted by Mark Forrest for four years.

Tony Hall said: “I’m a Director-General who believes in Local Radio. I recognise the unique value the BBC locally can bring. We’re an organisation that’s global, national and rooted in our local teams. Local Radio is in the DNA of our communities. I think that is more important than ever. England’s changing. It’s always been a patchwork of communities, with quite distinct identities. While Newcastle’s population is getting older, Bradford’s is getting younger and Birmingham is becoming one of the most diverse cities in Europe. Decision-making is being devolved too – there are mayors in some of the big metropolitan areas and that’s having an impact.

“I want to hear the sound of England as it changes. So while other media are becoming creatively less local, I want us to become even more so and to connect with our audiences in new ways.

“For many years the BBC has been reducing its investment in Local Radio. The development of new technology and the growth of smartphones has seen many people getting their local news, weather and traffic information digitally. But the rise of digital technology has also seen the rise of fake news, not just on a global level but on a local one as well. That’s why the role of BBC Local Radio is actually becoming more important – not less.

“Local Radio should be for everybody. It’s there to serve the Facebook generation every bit as much as the rest of us. My ambition for BBC Local Radio is for it to have more creative freedom, to celebrate local life, to be the place where we report local news but also the place we reflect local identity, nurture local talent and engage local audiences through digital platforms. I want to see a renaissance in Local Radio.”

The BBC is also making it easier for people to find online local stories which affect their area. From tonight, people across England will have access to everything the BBC does locally, with one click, using their postcode.

Read the full text of the Director General’s speech on the future of BBC Local Radio.

Lord Hall was speaking at the start of the Gillard Awards, which celebrate BBC Local Radio and were held in Coventry. See all the winners here.

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  1. Andrew says

    It’s a step in the right direction. Now how about giving all the local stations back their autonomy properly? The major problem with BBC local radio these days is that they are essentially all clones of each other. If it wasn’t for the different regional accents you’d be forgiven for thinking they were all the same station, particularly since the compulsory corporate rebranding from Mccasso in the mid-2000s.

  2. Andy says

    Finally someone who agrees with what I’ve been saying for years. Local radio IS important and should come from the area it serves. Goodbye network evenings! Brilliant!

    1. Joe Smith says

      Finally someone agrees with what everyone has been saying for years!

  3. Tim Sims says

    I hope local Essex BBC radio got special praise,one of the best stations there is

  4. Raymond Woodward says

    So, in other words he wants BBC Local Radio to become more like it was (rather than what it has become) …

  5. Brian Butterworth says

    For some reason, I’ve just can’t get this Radio Active** jingle out of my head…

    “Broadcasting locally, wherever you are in the Nation, this is Britain’s first National Local Radio Station”

    ** Radio Active was a comedy ran on BBC Radio 4 from 1981 to 1987.

  6. John Leech says

    What a very good and wise move at this time ! Brilliant

  7. Westmoor4 says

    Great. Now we need Bauer to drop networking across its stations, apart from the Vodafone chart.

    Look at how hot Hallam FM sounded from 2003 to 2005, then compare it with now.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      Bauer could drop the Big Top 40 show as Global have either a Heart or Capital in most of the same areas which also broadcast it.

      Better still, they could simulcast their Kiss chart instead. No, wait, they’ve tried that once before (Smash Hits Chart) and it tanked.

      1. Westmoor4 says

        Smash Hits Chart failed – and the Top 40 needs to stay for grandfather clause reasons, listener associations.

        Minster and Stray are chart-free though.

        Hallam doesn’t need networking, nor does Aire… with the exception of the chart show.

        Capital Yorkshire could drop the London networking though, get Chris Duke from Wave 102 on mid-mornings, John Scott from YOUR Radio on 1-4pm, Tom Campbell from Heart Northeast on evenings, and late show presented by Mike Nicholson… with only overnights coming from London?

  8. Len Groat says

    ” I want to see a renaissance in Local Radio….”

    .. ..says (Lord) Tony Hall, who oversaw the awful changes that created the jaded networked evening show + the “gender-balance breakfast” shows where less-experienced presenters were promoted above others, far more qualified, simply because they were female.

    Tony Hall should RESIGN for creating/allowing the policy that led to large drop in listenership.

    And WHERE did he suddenly manage to ‘save’ 10 million pounds??

    What a mess………

    1. Charlie Reynolds says

      I agree. I could do a better job as Director-General than Lord Hall.

    2. Dave Marshall says

      Come on Len, it’s not too late for the BBC to take a step in the right direction. And just as commercial radio is on hold, anticipating the imminent relaxation of Ofcom’s ‘region rule’ covering seven hours of weekday programming. We all know that the major operators are standing by to save £££’s by networking 24/7 while the Beeb sweep up the audience once held firmly by Independent Local Radio. It’s easy to predict who will win (certainly, South of the border), the massive growing LOYAL radio audience, of retirees and silver surfers – with money to spend.

    3. Radio Geordie says

      I hear Chris Evans will be getting a pay cut next year.

  9. Charlie Reynolds says

    Thank god! We’re back to the past. I wish I could wake up one day and see that the so-called “All-England” BBC Local Radio show was a nightmare. Also, the show’s host, Georgey Spanswick, should be sacked from the BBC.

  10. Radio Geordie says

    Never understood the logic of this programme anyway – A programme networked across all the English BBC Local services, the same services who can opt-out of the programme as and when they need to meaning that only the two Channel Island services would likely take the programme 5 nights a week.

    If the BBC want to do a “Best of the Local services”, they could do it as an overnight sustaining service like they do in Ireland.

  11. MARK LEVY says

    Not before time. Commercial radio are you watching?

  12. Nik Oakley says

    About bloody time. Please make sure it’s not outsourced to one of your buddies.

  13. Howard says

    Good! And let’s hear the likes of Dave King on terrestrial FM/DAB again. Remember his outstanding Oxford Blues, live players included, at BBC Radio Oxford? Casualty of accountants, as I recall.

  14. flamin’GOOD media says

    No no detractors this is GOOD news ?? I’ve been a lifelong fan of the BBC locals, note that’s very lifelong and I’m only 39 😉 I’ve always thought local radio BBC style should focus it’s information & news output to all ages, which it tries to do whilst struggling to entertain the over 50s causing anyone younger than to flee ! It’s a fact there’s no local information to speak of after 7pm from either the commercial OR BBC sector, the evening show although commendable as done nothing for the locality of local radio, yes it should play music to accompany the information and community focused programming but that can be a fairly broad mix with a current MOR lean, I’ve heard dance based top 40 choooons on the locals in recent times ! But post 7pm to 10pm life doesn’t suddenly grind to a halt in the counties, people still commute and the on the half past the hour diluted travel service will never ‘catch all’ the BBC even obscenely cut regional news input and travel roundups on the hour for reasons unknown … So to give it back to the locals, and keep it local i.e not regional 7-10 will be fantastic then yes network regionally and maybe England wide overnight to cement the brand of information, news, conversation interspersed with music … it be accesible to ages not just the elite of the over 50’s … news & information apply to ALL !

  15. Mark Budgen says

    So basically all Hall is saying is that if it’s on the BBC it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

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