It cannot have escaped the attention of anyone who maintains even a casual interest in the mainstream media that there has been a lot of coverage recently concerning a pre-recorded phone prank by by Russel Brand and Johnathon Ross that was allowed to air on BBC Radio 2. I’m not going to re-iterate comments of others or the writings of the media but present my own views on the events that unfolded and what this means for radio.
I grew up listening to the radio. At most points during the day when I was a child some radio station or other would be on and I very soon became an avid listener to a wide variety of genres. I attribute my love of the medium and my intense desire to one day present on it myself (which, little did I know at the time, I was to realise in late 2004) to this exposure and the insistence of my parents that the medium was infinitely better than television to extent where I had unlimited access to the radio and none to the television.
I mention all of this because one thing big thing I took away from my childhood experience was that radio was open to all. Presenters were respectful of all audiences and their position in the presenters chair was a privilege, not a right. My parents had no qualms about me selecting my station of choice and listening to my heart’s content from a young age and I feel I benefited immensely from this exposure; both from an enjoyment of music perspective and of the need to understand the goings on in the world at large through speech and debate.
Press coverage surrounding the recent problem has focused on the action or lack thereof from the BBC both before and after the incident and the complaints made from listeners. Personally I think they are missing the point. Radio doesn’t have a watershed like television. This means that all content should be suitable for all. During the short time I was broadcasting this fact was made quite plain to me both through experience and through the OFCOM regulations to which all presenters had to adhere.
Simply put, if content has and is being broadcast on any radio station and at any time that is in bad taste or quite simply offensive, even to one listener, then the enjoyment of the radio that I had as a child and hope my children will have in the future is at very real risk of being curtailed. This is not something we should allow to happen under any circumstances.