Tuesday 19 October 2010

LBC radio and Iain Dale

Talk type radio. I've been a fan for years. I have an IMP on my desk that gives me 2000 odd radio stations worldwide.

Celebrated blogger Iain Dale has been broadcasting on LBC for about a month now. He's done fill ins many times before of course and has made plenty of media apperances. Often at LBC a member of C@W has gone along to assist with political or business stories. {Shame Mr Drew is in the land of chocolate or he could be on tonight. Nuclear power debate Nick!}

I listen to radio a lot. An awful lot. It stems from having been UK regional driving all day and from being easily distracted by TV. So its radio on all day and I have it on instead of TV at night a few times a week. The BQ office likes Radio 2, which is fine. Sometimes Sky news but I find it repeats too quickly. BQ much prefers R5 or LBC talk radio. I was delighted when Mr Dale joined LBC. Firstly, I have listened to that station for years and years and felt it could do with a few more 'right leaning' views and secondly he pushed the very average Petri Hosken off the evening slot.

People often moan about the liberal nature of UK broadcasting. { The piss poor vapid Victoria Derbyshire is a personal switch off for me.} But I would suggest that unlike the comintern style borefest emanating from the ever so serious and endlessly introspective left wing blogs, the left leaning radio hosts have actually made the most entertaining shows.

On LBC in the morning, someone not to get into an argument with unless you're sure of your facts and can use reasoned argument is James O'Brien. He is sharp and demanding, yet he allows time for discussion and encourages callers to try and articulate their points. He takes no prisoners with ranters but will afford anyone time to talk if they can get across their theme.
Often accused of being an apologist lefty {with some slight justification} he does not often take a party line and will happily attack either side of a political divide or, almost uniquely on our airwaves, will change his original viewpoint and concede defeat.

On BBC Radio 5 Stephen Nolan {Biassed BBC blog really don't like him but I find him very fair} is my favourite of all. Why he isn't used more for his political interviewing is a mystery. He caught all three of the political parties candidates out during the election. Harriet Harman in particular was face pullingly awful, a result of unprepared and over confidence I shouldn't wonder. BBC must have different rules for the after 10pm slot as its much harder hitting than daytime.

Nick Ferrari is the right wing version of O'Brien, but is a bit too unsubtle. I often agree with him, but unlike O'Brien I doubt he is converting many opponents. Both presenters are excellent at what they do and both have a style that seems to encourage people to talk,which really, is the point.

Iain Dale fits in well here. He has a very relaxed manner. More than that..its a friendly, non-threatening voice. A kind of Stephen Fry meets Giles Brandreth. This is very useful for Mr Dale who is covering the evening slot which tends to have more touchy feely items than the daytime shows. The morning shows have the newspapers and the story of the day, by evening its a fourth item left over from the news or, if lucky, a top story still running. But mostly its non news topics. Last night it was " Do you agree that we have no alternative but to commission a new set of nuclear power stations? followed by Home births - should they be encouraged by the NHS or not? and Assisted Suicide."

The great thing about independent radio is it allows the presenter to present. Jeremy Vine, on the flagship Radio 2 lunchtime show, is just a mouth. He presents very well but its not possible for him to give an opinion, so he might as well just be the producer.
BBC don't like a program without 'balance'. Even when the show achieves its aim of making the listener vent at the radio, Jeremy just rolls on, reading the plethora of absurd, ill informed and just plain stupid texts and tweets along with the wise, reasoned and measured, attaching equal weight to each.

Iain Dale does no such thing and that's good news. He had Nadine Dorries on giving her opinion on home births and said in his soft, favourite cardigan, voice "I don't agree with her? What do you think?" Its incredibly refreshing to actually have a presenter express a view. I heard him disagreeing with the solicitor on the legal hour and offering his own opinion. Imagine that on watchdog?

Iain is able to soften' the right wing' message on the political parts, because he has an ability to look at the whole picture and not just trot out party lines. {Think Michael Portillo on This Week}.
He is prepared to concede well made points, is able to pour scorn on ridiculous falsehoods, expose dodgy statistics and weed out the party hack callers on both sides. All with what sounds like a wry smile or a thoughtful pause.

Its still early days for Mr Dale, but he does seem to have gelled rather well very quickly.
A few ill thought out phrases " phone in with your stories of suicide" that once they are out must have him jamming his headphones into his mouth , but that's just experience of finding the appropriate idiom .On tone he has already managed to sound fun when its fun and sincere when there is a need to sound sincere. That's not that easy . Gordon Brown never managed it despite thousands of hours of media coaching. He has even mastered that way of suddenly speaking differently, that makes you look up at the time and realise the news is coming up. All radio presenters do it,subtly running out the clock. It must be in the welcome pack.

LBC used to be known as Black Cab radio and it still is. If a cabbie doesn't phone up it can only mean the city is fogged in or the firefighters have hogged all the phone lines. But there is also a very varied mix of callers. If you want a change ,want tougher debates and stronger politics, don't mind London based news and traffic bulletins, aren't worried if Mayor Johnson and former mayor Ken Livingstone turn up a lot and want to try something stronger than nanny knows best radio, try LBC.
Its free.


TheFatBigot said...

I missed the Nolan interview of Simple Harriet, what a treat it is. You've made a fat man very happy.

Old BE said...

BQ, are you trying to get Iain Dale to take you out for dinner?

roym said...

Bit of a shill this piece!

fully agree about talk radio though, it can be great. Im a regular listener of R5.
shame about la derbyshire she could be so much better but can never say what she likes. or maybe she actually has no opinion? Disagree about Nolan though, when he starts shrieking about some nonsense it makes my blood boil!

As for LBC, Ferrari is a complete tool. I used to love clive bull, but the morons who rang in (rosemary from golders green) made me weep.

i've been saying for ages though that we need more options. after all, im still not dull enough for R4.

Bill Quango MP said...

The FatBigot: Its a real treat isn't it. On QT last week Tessa Jowell was in a similar situation. It would only have taken another single prodding from Dimbleby "hat exactly is your opinion?" to elicit the response "I don't know..no one told me."

BE/ Roym:
Yes.. Bit too much.

Was originally writing two separate pieces, one specifically on Dale one on independent radio.
The first one was dropped so I thought I'd use bits of it here by mashing the two together.
You're right. Its clumsy, badly edited and looks like what it is. An unpaid/unused piece that i didn't want to junk and a personal preference column.

I did think on read back that if you don't rate Dale you're going to hate this. But I genuinely do like his show. I've probably listened to 8 or 9 of them. I find I don't shout at the radio when he's on.

Unknown said...

I listen to and enjoy LBC. Sometimes find it difficult to listen to Nick Ferrari first thing. I like him, although I don’t often agree with him. He can be quite abrupt to callers, particularly those who don’t share his view of the world…..would say that this puts people off calling, who have interesting points to make, but don’t want hectored or lashed with his sharp wit, that early in the morning.
I LOVE Iain Dale. Don’t know whether it’s his voice, manner or humour, but he does seem to put everyone around him at ease. His chat with a couple of politicians a while ago sounded like they’d all just met up at a bar near the house of commons rather than, as was probably the case, in a studio surrounded by microphones, fluorescent lights and poly cups of coffee. It was refreshing to listen to them all laughing and winding each other up rather than the usual dull point scoring that goes on. Loving it!

Anonymous said...

I like talksport radio, esp. when they're not running sports tuff. 10pm thru to 6am is all news and current affairs and definately not 'balanced'.And apart from George Galloway v right wing.

Bill Quango MP said...

C9darcy: agree with you absolubtely on Ferrari. Glad you agree about Dale's manner.very important for his time slot. All the argy bargy is for the morning shows. Having said James O'Brian isn't a lefty, his last two shows could have been sponsored by socialist worker, they were so left wing.
Still...Mellor on with Livingstone on Saturday am has improved that show a lot.

Anon: I'm so-so on talksport. I don't mind Galloway. He does not even attempt to hide his terrible bias. That's OK. Its more like a US radio show. I sometimes listen to the USA Fox radio. Its the same but in reverse.

One thing I have noticed recently is that BBC R5's highly rated '606' show, the most listened to football program, has become unbearable since it decided to 'dumb down' to white van man analysis.. They are trying to copy the knockabout lads style of Talksport, but, as the article above lamented, they must have a degree of balance. On Talksport if someone calls in and says "Arsenal were rubbish" and presenter A says 'i agree' and B says ' I also agree' then A says 'next caller.."
On 606 its presenter B's job to go ..'oohhh, they weren't that bad surely?'

Robbie Savage is bloody awful.
The show must be shedding listeners its now so poor.

Matt said...

but that's just experience of finding the appropriate idiom

That's not always easy. I remember when presenting a radio show, oh, God, several lifetimes ago, or so it seems, I and a fellow presenter were talking about the dress sense of Boy George and when asked for my opinion I responded with: "Boy George? He looks like a tie-dyed corpse!"

My co-presenter corpsed! (To coin a phrase...)

measured said...

The sound of Danny Baker put me off this sort of radio, and Vanessa Feltz, where did she come from? Danny Baker once turned up to switch on the local Christmas lights half cut and that was a laugh and half, I can tell you. True.

Radio 4 is so popular because there's nothing else like it. Apparently its programmes cost loads to make. Do they really? Radio 5, if you can find it, has also been a success. Commercial radio would tap a rich seam if they could take a leaf out of these books.

So you are a cabbie after all, Bill? Who'd have guessed?

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