Tony Hall confirms BBC Local Radio changes are coming

Tony Hall has confirmed changes are coming to BBC Local Radio in a welcome speech at the BBC’s new home in Cardiff.

The Director-General didn’t say what the plans are but informed staff that Nations and Regions Director Ken MacQuarrie and Director of England Helen Thomas will be saying more shortly.

He did say the corporation has big plans for BBC Sounds, with Salford becoming the hub for the project. The BBC Sounds curation team is joining the Controller to be based in MediaCity within the next few weeks.

“I think BBC local radio matters more now than ever, as commercial media retreats,” Tony said. “And I strongly believe in it. But we need to change as audiences change. I know a lot of local radio staff are already engaging in those conversations and Ken MacQuarrie and Helen Thomas will be saying more shortly.

The local radio network introduced a new sound last week, when Chris Burns, Head of Digital and Audio for BBC England told RadioToday: “As we enter a new decade, BBC Local Radio will sound different. This process is underway. It will refresh the sound of our stations while ensuring they retain their strong local flavour.”

The DG added: “We’ve got big plans for Sounds. Radio transformed for all generations.

“There’ll be a step-change in podcasting with more world-class storytelling from within the BBC. And, for the first time, we’re going to open up Sounds to new British creators wherever they are and bring the best podcasts to everyone.

“We’ll be launching new music streams bringing together favourite radio shows and on-demand content; more gems from the archive; and the Sounds app will showcase the great audio we produce in this country to the world when it goes global later this year.”

You can read the speech in full here.

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21 Comments
  1. Mark Budgen says

    The BBC should not be getting into areas that are already well subscribed by private sector. Licence fee money should not be going on podcasts unless they are podcasts of recently transmitted programmes. Time for the BBC to be cut to size.

    1. Wal says

      Why?

    2. david worth says

      Correct the bbc is to big close local radio in urban areas and radio1/2 who formats are available on commercial radio/community radio

  2. Sally Brimble says

    Have you ever known anything as anachronistic and preposterous as the BBC? An all staff briefing naturally has all staff wondering, second guessing and being concerned about their future and then the Big Chief comes on and says changes are coming for local radio, but I’m not going to tell you what they are – at some unspecified point, some equally overpaid and over promoted non entity will tell you what’s happening (if you’re lucky). Joke.

    1. Allan Wallace says

      Sally Brimble is absolutely right. Perhaps it’s the DG who should be changed.

  3. Adrian says

    The idea of having Radio 2 music would have made more sense in the 70’s when BBC local stations were often with that station more than half the day,Nowadays Radio 2 is aimed much younger and I really think local stations should each have their own playlists depending on the area -not one size fits all like commercial radio-we don’t need either Radio 2 music duplicated on them nor a copy of the commercial stations.

  4. Roger Patterson says

    BBC Local Radio is fine as it is .
    What we don’t want is another attempt at regional programming, or national shows.
    Local BBC Radio is more important than ever as the big commercial company’s swallow up local stations and use London based shows, with no local connection.

    1. Mark Budgen says

      Why should licence fee payers pay for 2, 3, 4 etc presenters all playing the same dire music at the same time? That’s not local radio as it should be. In fact I’d reduce significantly the amount of music on these stations as it’s lazy broadcasting.

  5. Chris says

    The people who actually make the content will be told to make more content.

    Hardly needs an announcement, tbf.

  6. Len Groat says

    Does all this usual BBC waffle….

    “BBC Local Radio will sound different. This process is underway. It will refresh the sound of our stations while ensuring they retain their strong local flavour”

    . . . mean they might finally be getting some decent on-air identification….. dare I say ….

    JINGLES!?

    I doubt it.. .. it will be the same ola song… just more youthful… and even more PC

    1. Mark Budgen says

      keep playing your Elvis, Phil Collins and dire dirge on Bedroom AM Len!

  7. Roger Bourne says

    It’s radios 1,2,3,and4 that cost the money to run, not the local stations. We don’t need National radio anymore it has no purpose. Local radio is necessary. I mean–Ken Bruce, Steve Wright, Zoe Ball –dinosaurs! That lovely Lady that stood in for Zoe Ball last week was A BREATH of FRESH AIR. I’d keep radio 4 but radio 1 is unlistenable now.

    1. mb23 says

      Radio 1 is meant to be for people aged under 30. If you’re older than this and it’s unlistenable it’s probably fulfilling its remit.

  8. Steve Haigh says

    BBC local radio has lost its way – link the service with the UK’s 300 + community stations and make it relevant IN the modern landscape.
    The gap is hyper-local. But BBC LR can’t deliver this alone. It needs CR to gather information, provide content, share transmitters.
    BBC Local should form joint working with CR and stop paying the sector lip service.

    1. Mark Budgen says

      Community stations dont do much community related – it’s just OAPs playing the same old songs that BBC local radio play.

    2. Jason says

      Let’s face it. Most community stations are rubbish. Why on earth would the BBC link with them?!

  9. Mark Budgen says

    Local radio should be news, information, features, sport on the local communities of the area. Not constant MOR music and “this is BBC Radio Countyshire from the BBC, next on BBC Radio Countyshire more Elvis. On BBC Radio Countyshire.”
    .

    1. David poulton says

      Sadly independent local radio has gone regional with station being brought out and losing local progs. Heart now broadcasts it’s progs from London and we no longer get the local Hants broadcast. BBC local is regional Paul Miller is on 6 stations from 10 pm to 1 am covering South and South East England. In the 1970s radio Solent was local all progs on air came from Southampton. Sunday nights Solent Sussex Surrey are together from 9 pm to Midnight it’s another regional program. Sadly local radio is disappearing.

      1. Jason says

        What’s the point of local stations having individual late shows? Very low listening figures from 10PM, hence why it’s called the graveyard shift. Also, the presenters on these late night shows have strong followers because they’ve been doing it so long.

        Look at Nick Risby across the east. People love his programme, and indeed, it is a good programme. What would be the point in splitting it?

  10. Sharon Moore says

    BBC Northampton has a great person in the mornings from 9 am to midday and a rock and roll show on Saturday evenings that gets heard in other counties. Let’s hope these do not change otherwise you will have an uproar on your hr and.
    Lots of radio stations only care about the younger folk, well Bernie still plays 50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s which goes down great on our local station.

  11. Mark Wakely says

    For those of you saying “close down BBC national networks”, over 40m people listen to them each week with Radio 2 at number one and Radio 1 at number 3 out of all national stations (4th quarter figs 2019). Why would you deny these people the stations they love. If the commercial sector was doing the same thing, surely they would be performing at least as well.

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