Commercial radio ignored in Greatest Radio Shows list

The Radio Times has named what it considers to be the ’30 greatest radio shows of all time’ – but every single one is a BBC programme.

The magazine’s new edition contains a six-page feature counting down the shows – from Radio 3’s Private Passions at number 30 to Desert Island Discs at number 1.

But the feature has attracted criticism that no commercial radio shows are included. Former radio executive John Myers wrote on Twitter: “I’m sorry, but this is the most insulting and ill informed article on radio I’ve read in a long time. What they are implying is that not a single programme in the history of commercial radio is worthy of being on the list. Love the winner but flawed overall + judges mostly BBC.”

Siobhan Kenny, CEO of Radiocentre – the trade body for commercial radio – tweeted: “Hello @BBC @RadioTimes top 30 radio programmes ever. Is there a world beyond the BBC? Apparently not.”

The panel of ‘experts’ that have helped to compile the Radio Times list are predominantly current and former BBC producers, presenters, contributors newsreaders and managers. The remainder include radio critics and columnists such as Gillian Reynolds, David Hepworth, Fiona Sturges – and the author of The Radio Companion, Paul Donovan.

At the start of the article, the Radio Times delights in telling us that the panel of 46 people is made up of 23 women and 23 men and “comprises true radio people, from presenters to producers to writers, all steeped in a medium that for many has been their life’s work.” We’re told that the 46 panelists each came up with a Top 10, with points then awarded to compile the overall Top 30. The experts were given a list of 80 radio programmes – as an ‘aide memoire – but it’s not known whether any commercial radio shows were on that list.

Responding on Twitter, the industry body The Radio Academy posted: “A list of really fantastic programmes there @RadioTimes – can we suggest the following additions?
The BRMB Breakfast Show with Les Ross
Alan Robson’s Night Owls on Metro Radio
Capital Breakfast with Chris Tarrant
The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio
Kisstory on Kiss FM
Alan Brazil’s Sports Breakfast
Anna and The Doc with Anna Raeburn on Capital Radio
Hirsty’s Daily Dose on Galaxy/Capital

There are loads more to choose from, but those are just a few names we think are right up there. Enjoy the debate!”

23 of the 30 on the Radio Times list are are Radio 4 or Home Service programmes, 3 are from Radio 2 or the Light Programme, 3 from Radio 3/Third Programme and one from Radio 1 (John Peel). Other than John Peel’s show the only music radio format included is Radio 2’s Wake Up To Wogan, which is at number 12.

Comedy programmes such as The Goon Show, Just A Minute, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Round The Horne, Hancock’s Half Hour, On The Hour, Dead Ringers and The News Quiz all make the grade, along with news programmes including Today, PM and The World Tonight. Test Match Special is the only sports programme to make the list.

Here’s the Radio Times’ 30 Greatest Radio Shows of All Time
30. Private Passions, Radio 3 – 1995 – present
29. The World Tonight, Radio 4 – 1970 – present
28. Ed Reardon’s Week, Radio 4 – 2005 – present
27. The Reunion, Radio 4 – 2003 – present
26. The Shuttleworths, Radio 4 – 1993 – 2010
25. The Proms, Radio 3 – 1946 – present
24. The Shipping Forecast, Radio 4 – 1911 – present
23. Test Match Special, Radio 4/5 live sports extra – 1958 – present
22. Soul Music, Radio 4 – 2000 – present
21. The Goon Show, Home service – 1951 – 1960
20. Under Milk Wood, Third programme – 1954
19. Dead Ringers, Radio 4 – 2000 – present
18. PM, Radio 4 – 1970 – present
17. In Our Time, Radio 4 – 1998 – present
16. Woman’s Hour, Radio 4 – 1946 – present
15. Just a Minute, Radio 4 – 1967 – present
14. On the Hour, Radio 4 – 1991 – 1992
13. John Peel, Radio 1 – 1967 – 2004
12. Wake Up to Wogan, Radio 2 – 1993 – 2009
11. Letter from America, Radio 4 – 1946 – 2004
10. Today, Radio 4 – 1957 – present
9. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Radio 4 – 1972 – present
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Radio 4 – 1978 – 1980
7. From Our Own Correspondent, Radio 4 – 1955 – present
6. The News Quiz, Radio 4 – 1977 – present
5. In the Psychiatrist’s Chair, Radio 4 – 1982 – 2001
4. Hancock’s Half-Hour, Light programme – 1954 – 1959
3. Round the Horne, Light programme – 1965 – 1968
2. The Archers, Radio 4 – 1951 – present
1. Desert Island Discs, Radio 4 – 1942 – present

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