Sea Changing on the Airwaves

By Louis Barfe

It’s all change at Radio 2 over the next few months, and I’m undecided whether the good news outweighs the bad. In the profit column, Gary Davies is taking over Sounds of the 80s from Sara Cox, who gets her own weekday evening show, and live overnights are making a partial return, with OJ Borg coming in from midnight until 3am. 

Although Borg is best known for TV, he has an excellent radio pedigree, so it’s a good fit. I’m less convinced by the wisdom of pairing Jo Whiley with Simon Mayo for a new drivetime show. It seems like they’ve been shoved together purely to make way for Cox. Both good presenters in their own right, these forced collaborations can often be less than the sum of their parts.

Then there’s the sad news that The Organist Entertains and Listen to the Band will be ‘rested’. Quite apart from incredulity that the network can’t spare half an hour for each weekly, I can’t bear weasel words. These programmes are not being rested or sent to live on a farm in Wales. They’re being killed off. 

Talking of Wales, last week when I was pootling along the M5 from Dursley to Bridgwater with the intent of surveying the local radio options, all I seemed to be able to receive were stations from the other side of the Severn. During one brief interlude, where BBC Radio Wales was coming in loud and proud, I had the strange experience of a caller describing Toby Young as ‘well-meaning’. It was a shame. The tiny bit of John Darvall’s show (BBC Radio Bristol, weekdays, 9am-12pm) that I did hear suggested that I’d like him. I was taken aback by his sweeping assertion that ‘everybody loves opera’, but warmed to him when he added: ‘usually about three and a half minutes of it, tops’.