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Agitate, Educate, Organize ...

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 1:13 pm
by Jamie Renton
I've just read Charlie's message on the "How's Charlie' thread. God this is devastating news. I don't think it's possible to overestimate the importance of Charlie's Radio London show in my life & I imagine others on this Forum must feel the same way.

My worry is that BBC London will see this as an opportunity to shut down this specialist slot. The station sometimes seems hellbent on becoming one long dull talkshow & I suspect only kept Charlie on because of his personality, his standing in the industry & the fact that he kept winning awards.

So what can we do to prevent the 8 - 10PM Saturday slot becoming a sports phone-in? I've got no experience in such campaigns but think that we need to do something (if we don't, who will?). It sounds as though we've got at least until the end of July. Anyone got any ideas?

I don't think anything will be able to replace what Charlie has done in that time slot, but maybe we can salvage something.

In the meantime let's savour those World Service programmes!


PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 1:23 pm
by Con Murphy
I've got no ideas myself at the moment Jamie, but whatever is decided I'm with you all the way. My first reaction is that at the very least we must keep reminding ourselves and others of what a fine job Gerry Lyseight does as stand-in. He is proof that there is more than one way of promoting great world music on a Saturday night.

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 2:05 pm
by NormanD
A first point of contact would be David Robey at BBC London. I don't know his title, it may be something like Programme Director. I've written to him in the past and, to his credit, he has always replied to me:

What we say is another matter.....


PS I just heard Ken Loach on the TV; he used the old Wobbly saying "Agitate, educate, organise". Apt, eh?

PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 7:50 pm
by Andrewq
Here is my pennies worth.
First - this is a campaign and needs to be under a separate Dramatic heading on the Forum so it cannot be missed and the comments so far, transfered to that heading.
It´s now time for one of those letters that Howard and Ian have in their top drawer - an open letter sent to the BBC and sent for publication in the Gaurdian or one of the Sundays - million selling albums, sell out shows at the Barbican and South Bank, hundreds of thousands of non Anglo Saxons living in London but no music representation etc etc - we know the score but it may be a welcome point of view to many more.
Next email David at the BBC as many times and as many ways as possible (we need his email address).
And what about starting a petition and get it spread out and signed at Womad - a large percentage of Womad fans are within the Radio London catchment area.
When Sue Lawley announced her retirement from Desert Isalnd Discs there was no question the show was to close. Charlie has made Ping Pong a must for anyone interested in music and if he agrees to licence the product, there are plenty of people including Gerry, who would be interested to apply.
This is going to be a battle and we have to fight if we want to win.
Of course we need facts and figures to support the cause and there are people out there a lot more qualified than me but I do know that Radio London listening figures are falling despite the increase in population and they need to understand that endless talk shows may be cheap but are not the answer.

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 12:39 pm
by Peter
I´m with you on this and have sent my first email to David Robey and will set up a few more email addresses to lobby. There was a relevant article in the Sunday Times 2 weeks ago about how viewers in the US lobby TV execs on how to rescue programmes scheduled for the chop - I may copy it when I have time.

bring on the empty horses

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 9:56 pm
by ritchie
Don't underestimate the internet 'listeners' either. Do you realise that I don't listen at all to my 'local' BBC radio station, infact, if it was nt for the news and weather, radio London would be my 'local radio' station.

The Charlie Gillett show promotes London to the World ....lets not forget that (just think about the forthcoming Olympics - what other radio show brings such various people and music together in such a good spirit?)


PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 9:39 am
by Charlie
I appreciate the spirit behind this campaign, but would rather you did not pursue it.

David Robey is not any kind of music man, and would not know how to begin to organise a show with the kind of brief that I set for myself.

I came to appreciate that he simply let me get on with what I was doing, content that a big enough audience showed up to listen every Saturday night. Not once did he ever make any suggestion that I might do something differently, which in current radio is extremely unusual.

I am afraid that your emails are simply going to use up his time and patience, but will have no effect.

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 5:55 pm
by Peter
Hi Charlie
Am a little confused - are saying that lobbying R.L. for a World Music programme is a waste of time? You know the polictics better than any of us but with great respect I can"t accept that that is it. There must be presenters who could put together a W.M. programme - Gerry obviously, Rita and Max. I would volunteer myself but can"t give up the day job. Seriously though I know it won"t be the same but for every future Lola Rosa, Lhassa, or Lura who may never be heard by the likes of me, we must at least try.

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 10:28 am
by Ian A.
Charlie wrote:I am afraid that your emails are simply going to use up his time and patience, but will have no effect.

I'm sure Charlie knows better than any of us on this.

However, one thing remains true: the last time Charlie was off air for several years in the early '90s, the London scene hit a trough without its neighbourhood notice board, which is exactly what local radio ought to be providing. And whether the London-phobes in the rest of the country like it or not, London is the engine which drives the national scene. These days, with the added factor of listeners all over the country and the world via the net and the replayer, that's even more true.

During Charlie's absence back then, I tried to fill the gap when I had my World Routes (where did you hear that title since?) hour on Jazz FM, which deliberately aped the gig notice board format in the second part of the show - and happily brought Charlie back onto the air when I needed a stand-in from time to time.

The question remains: if BBC London won't do it, who will? Certainly not Capital or any of the commercial stations. Wonderful though quirky Resonance FM is, it doesn't have the reach. Contrast how buoyant world music is in London compared with the folk scene, where it's stronger in most other parts of the country than it is here. The difference: I believe a major factor is that there hasn't been a folk programme on the airwaves in London since the poor effort there used to be on Capital in the early '80s.

In an ideal world, BBC London would seize the opportunity to address both issues, but I'm inclined to believe Charlie: he knows the personalities there. Sometimes a hard campaign attack simply increases the resistance rather than having the desired effect.

Solutions: don't have any right now. And we're still wondering if these new regulations being suggested by the dinosaur copyright collection agencies to bar internet access from the UK to "overseas" net radio willl stop people from listening to our own fRoots Radio, since it's hosted in Paris by Mondomix.

Feels like two steps forward, three steps back right now.

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 11:50 am
by Zak
I"m also in that "something must be done" stage before depression sets in.
At least there is no harm asking. But it is not just the listeners who will suffer - as Ian says, the industry has benefitted, from record labels, gig promoters and presumably the magazines so hopefully they have something to say. And mentioning World Routes, who knows the story about how Radio 3 were presuaded to get so involved?

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 1:05 pm
by Quintin
I think we're all at that 'something must be done' stage but I come from things from a slightly different perspective as I live out in the sticks and listen over the internet. Clearly, and by definition, I and fellow internet listeners listen because we know the programme and want to listen to Charlie. We're in a different position to those within reach of BBC London who might happen upon the programme by chance; indeed that's how I came across the programme in the first place when I lived down in London, no doubt like many others.

But Ian is absolutely right, London does drive the world music scene in the UK. Up here we get the odd show, mainly because the local venue is owned by the trust that runs The Spitz but barely one or two a year. But my point is that unless there is a World Music showcase programme broadcast to Londoners the future of this thriving scene will be bound to be damaged and across the country too. It really is that important.

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 2:55 pm
by howard male
OK, well here's a tentative look into the future in the form of a suggestion. I think we can be fairly sure Charlie isn't going to loose his appetite for going through all the new releases looking for gold, even if the putting together of a two hour show has become too demanding. So perhaps a 'better than nothing' solution, for whenever he's up to it, if he's up for it, is for our favourite DJ to write a monthly or fortnightly bullitin just mentioning what has impressed him and why, over that period. We now live in an age where once we have the info it's often possible to then go and listen to sound bites at Sternes or the artist's own website. As Dominic is a regular contributor here, perhaps even some kind of symbiotic relationship could be further developed between SOTW and Sternes, where mentioned albums could be quickly added to their database?

While we all have the will to keep this site alive such a regular event as a bullitin like this might make all the difference as to whether this place just becomes about nostalgia or continues to be about the search for new and exciting music.

The details are not important but the idea I think is, at least for the industry, the listeners, and possibly even for Charlie's own sense that his input can still be felt. I've now been writing proffessionally on world music for just over a year and I've still only very rarely discovered something off my own back, and I'm sure lots of other music journalists also looked to the Saturday night show to discover new blood, so I think such a service - if it was something that appealled to Charlie once he has regained his health sufficiently. Even if it was nothing more than an occassional list of half a dozen new releases to investigate, it would still be hugely appreciated by everyone who visits this forum.

And while we're on the subject of keeping this place alive, I'd also like to make public my appreciation of Alan's 'Live in London' section, and say that I hope he plans to continue doing the fantastic job of keeping that up to date. For purely selfish reasons I'd like to see it continue as it's always my first port of call when I'm doing my 'critic's choices' of live world music gigs for the Indy on Sunday, and for seeing what is up and coming which I might be able to review. Once again this points out the domino affect of just this website, never mind CG's immeasurable contribution to the world music machine.

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 7:48 pm
by Guest
Zak wrote:mentioning World Routes, who knows the story about how Radio 3 were presuaded to get so involved?

Radio 3 got so involved when they appointed a sympathetic and imaginative controller, Roger Wright. What Charlie has told us is that the current controller of BBC London isn't interested in this type of programme.
howard male wrote:I think we can be fairly sure Charlie isn't going to loose his appetite for going through all the new releases looking for gold

I don't think you can count on that. You've read the discussions here about the "too many CDs" syndrome. If Charlie is hoping to claw some of his real life back as well as his health, the enormous task of trawling through the hundreds that pour in each month may not maintain much appeal when there's no pressing need for it, and I for one wouldn't blame him.

PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 7:52 pm
by Con Murphy
With respect to Charlie's wishes, I go along with the consensus that we cannot let the great work he has done to bring this kid of music to the Saturday night airwaves of our capital go without at least some expression of concern. I'm not saying we should chain ourselves to the railings outside Broadcasting House or anything (although it's the Derby next week. I've got this idea...), but the very least we can do is lobby individually for the retention of a world music slot on Radio London. Nobody will ever be able to match Charlie's unique show, especially the Ping-Pong element, but surely somebody can deliver a format worthy of following in his footsteps.

Agitate, Educate, Organise

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:57 am
by debbie golt outerglobe
I agree - we do want to maintain OUR slot for our section of the Music Biz/Industry - Chalrie has built up an amazing audience for the show and the show /slot makes a huge difference to afficionadoes, promoters, muscians, djs, broadcasters, journalists, labels - globally (some of us are all of these - like me except I'm not a musician) and our children (mine have greatly expanded their music loves, partly through my own collection , partly through Charlie's shows which were always on whenever poss overriding any inital objections which totally disappeared over time!). And it made a practical difference to my artists and promotions over time and my awareness of music out there that didn't reach me through my own connections.

If Gerry Lyseight isn't the contender for the slot, I wouldn't want to take away that opportunity if it's out there for him and he wants it (have to ask you Gerry), I would actually love to do the slot. Couldn't possibly do anything like Charlie, but I do do very good radio on lots of community slots (see radio strand in forum). And I had a constructive idea that when they were expanding radio some time back - it was probably 'good ol ' GLR days, they had various people try out on air for slots - that was when Gerry Lyseight got his regular show and also I think Ross Allen (if not him someone simialr) and yes it was in the expansionist not so corporate drivel speech at any cost days, however I never say never until it really is never! I am making some quiet enquiries. Beyond anything we do want that slot for our industry! It makes a real difference.

I respect Charlie's views and so we have to make it clear thatit's us doing it on our own behalf, not at any behest of Charlie's.


Debbie Golt aka DJ Debbie