30 June 2015

Up Close and Personal - You Are Here Immersive Theatre in Leeds

I’m on the bed in a Leeds city centre hotel room with a half-dressed girl I’ve just met.

We’re alone, surrounded by her intimate possessions – clothes, dressing gown, make up – and we’re talking about love, and life. She gently raises my fingers to her throat to feel the pulse in her neck.

A nymph, not unlike her bronze sisters I’ve just left behind in City Square, this girl is easily young enough to be my daughter. She strokes my arm as she talks and cajoles, and then plants a bright red lipstick kiss on the back of my hand.

It’s theatre. But Toto, in this piece I originally wrote for the Leeds Culture Vulture website, I’ve a feeling we’re not in the plush velvet stalls at The Grand anymore.

27 June 2015

Reports of a Death Are Premature ...

Radio's dead. It's official .. there's been a notice in the Telegraph.

OK, maybe not dead but dying, according to Gillian Reynolds, on licence fee life support and Osborne's hand is on the switch. Oh hang on ... she's not talking about radio, she's talking about BBC Radio 4.

Which of course is radio if you're in London and you're writing a column for a posh broadsheet, allowing for a bit of Radio 3 when the Proms are on and maybe the frisson of a brief liaison with 6 Music if we're feeling frisky.

Don't get me wrong. I'd be sad if Radio 4 died, or became severely emaciated. It's one of those things that makes the country worth defending, and for which I'd certainly go to the barricades.

But radio is a lot more than Radio 4, which is local radio to London and the South East in the same way that Crossrail is an affordable little transport upgrade and the National Theatre has something on worth seeing now and then. I started looking around the dial, and at online listen again services, on just one Saturday in June here in Yorkshire.

11 May 2015

The Original Social Medium

Today we mark a sad anniversary. It's thirty years since the Bradford City fire disaster in which 56 fans lost their lives. They went to a football match to celebrate their team's promotion, and never came home.

The events of that day are etched in our national memory and, as so often, radio captured the raw emotion of the moment so much more powerfully than mundane pictures.

They also highlight something about radio that is too often forgotten in our industry today. Beyond the brands, and the promotions, and the personalities radio has a unique ability to bring people together and to communicate better than the echo chambers and troll-infested swamps of what we now call "social media".

This post explores some of those attributes.

04 March 2015

Regulators Have Teeth. So Bite.

I'm delighted that Australia's High Court has upheld a contested ruling that the radio station responsible for a stupid prank call to a hospital nurse in London in the middle of the night broke the law.

The judgement overturns an earlier decision which ruled the regulator had no power to sanction Sydney's 2Day FM over the harrassment of the nurse, who was bullied by two presenters who posed as members of the Royal family to trick her into transferring their hoax call to members of the medical team treating the Duchess of Cambridge for morning sickness in 2012.

The time has now come to punish the station appropriately.

15 February 2015

We've Forgotten Maureen

Two firsts for me, this week. I was invited to attend a Lord Mayor's Civic Reception in Bradford as a guest, not as a reporter, at an event to celebrate the 21st birthday of community radio pioneers BCB. I was also invited to appear as a pundit ("journalist and lecturer", no less) on Made in Leeds TV, the local service that launched in November.

Two different experiences - one common theme. I was reminded very strongly of why I was once so passionate about local radio, and how sad I am, in many ways, to see what it has become. Here's why.

04 January 2015

Spin Has Sprung (and it's only January)

We're barely into a new year and already the opening shots have been fired in what's shaping up to be a long, bitter and dirty General Election campaign. Repeated polls tell us no party has a clear majority.

With no front runner and all to play for, the campaign ground rules have shifted dramatically even since 2010. Every utterance, every poster launch, every Twitter gaffe is picked over, attacked and rebutted in minute detail. National newspapers, bar the occasional sensational scoop, are irrelevant in the minute-by-minute game, the tribal nature of their coverage appealing only to their faithful readership.

The 'national treasure' TV correspondents - Nick Robinson, Jon Snow,  Adam Boulton - lose their edge (and occasionally their cool) under the pressure of relentless 24 hour campaigning and are increasingly identified as part of the political establishment they are supposed to be scrutinising.

What this means is that local radio, TV and papers are going to be in the forefront of the 2015 contest.