There was a wee piece in the Scotsman today about a cancelled European hustings programme and the fact Riddoch Questions will be off air after July 31st. Just for the sake of clarity, these two things are not linked.
I've no idea why BBC Scotland decided to drop RQs from the schedule (for the uninitiated it's a live political programme I present on Fridays at 1.15). My production company Feisty has been producing the show from a variety of locations around Dundee and Fife for about two years. The BBC let us know we were off by email in March – the reason given was schedule changes.
We've lost staff since then – after all there has been no prospect of regular work because our other programme New Hands – a business programme highlighting the problems of young companies – has also not been recommissioned.
A week ago Radio Scotland announced there'd be a new slot for independent producers at 9am on Sunday mornings. Our remaining production staff are both part-time young mums, and neither is keen on weekend work. And since we've not managed to do a programme Radio Scotland seems happy with in the five years we've been in existence, the Feisty team has decided not to tender for the new slot and instead to move on and explore new lines of business.
We already do a lot of non-broadcasting work – Feisty is heavily involved in an international marine energy project Equimar (www.equimar.org) I'm very involved in doing a part-time degree in Nordic Studies and writing a book and we are all interested in the possibilities of online radio. So having time to devote to a different sounding alternative speech service would be grand.
I've been really lucky to have had 25 years working with the BBC – mostly Radio Scotland. So perhaps it is time for something new. Thanks to everyone who has listened, thrown things at the radio, and put up with our frequent technical problems. Mind you, if the BBC's Dundee studio was capable of producing live programmes – like their studios in every other Scottish city -- we wouldn't have had to prevail on Abertay and Adam Smith to try and repurpose their student-focussed facilities in the first place!
Regarding next week's European Hustings with the Federation of Small Business and Amnesty International, I do find the BBC's decision to cancel this event bizarre and have told them so. They are worried the public could form a biased audience. We'd given 10 tickets to each of the four main parties for their supporters – the way we've always done to overcome such possible bias in the past. I don't know why that suddenly isn't good enough, and having spent three months arranging the event it's tough to have it cancelled at the last minute. And even tougher to see how the BBC will ever manage to have an election programme involving the public without loads of staff and months of audience vetting. Is that really necessary or massive politically correct overkill?
Anyway, the show will go on. I'll chair the hustings as I promised to do and Feisty staff will be there to record, edit and post the event online. It's primarily an event for FSB and Amnesty members but I think they would be happy if other people wanted to come. See my main website for details of the event. And watch this space!
Finally, I'm trying to be on holiday on Orkney this week – and many thanks to the generous Cecil at Wishart's Ironmongers in Orkney for letting me use the shop's wireless network to post this lot and tolerating all the customers stepping over me to view their extensive selection of pans!