What is going on at BBC Radio Scotland? Not content with raising one helluva row over axing the Janice Forsyth Show – hot on the heels of two controversial current affairs changes – it seems Mary Ann Kennedy's Global Gathering is now also for the chop. I've generally hesitated before commenting about BBC Scotland decisions. When you write critically about a previous employer people can't be sure if your point of view is entirely objective. And to be honest – after 25 years working for Aunty in one guise or another – I'm sure I am a detached observer of the BBC or indeed the wider debate about how we debate Scotland's future. Can I humbly suggest that similarly engaged people are precisely the kind of folk people want to hear on Radio Scotland? And yet these are the kind of people being purged by inexplicable Radio Scotland decisions -- folk with a background, an opinion worth hearing and a long-standing professional commitment to Scotland.
Why replace the characterful Newsweek Scotland with grumpy and incisive Derek Bateman at the helm just to have another instalment of Good Morning Scotland? And how can democracy be served by axing the only detailed analysis of the Scottish parliament (Scotland at Ten) and replacing it with music? As for Janice Forsyth v more football swop – NO!
Doubtless there are cuts to be made and bluffs to be called. People who say they will never listen to Radio if a certain change is made adapt cheerfully to the new output within weeks. The current public outcry is not such a minor stooshette. It's the build up of disappointment with a radio network that has gradually but steadily dumbed down and currently doesn't deliver sufficiently good, vibrant and engaged analysis of Scottish lives. Mary Ann Kennedy not only knows her stuff – she's a pivotal part of the folk scene. What can the justification possibly be for axing Mary Ann to play more classical music. That's what the whole of Radio 3 delivers every morning, noon and night. But if Radio Scotland doesn't play Scottish traditional music – who else will? That's not to say it isn't sufficiently high quality to get coverage on Radio 2 or indeed on foreign stations like RTE. But think about this a minute. Can it be right that Scotland doesn't promote what is unique about Scotland? Unless this is a high risk strategy to gain profile for some of Scotland's best loved broadcasters – you'd better believe more folk are listening to Janny on the Tranny since the rammy kicked off – the changes reveal some very strange priorities quite out of kilter with what licence fee payers expect.