Naked Scientists to be axed by BBC local radio

I never thought I’d have much in common with Danny Baker, but now I do. The Naked Scientists BBC Radio show, which I’ve helped to present for the best part of a decade, is being axed by BBC East for (what seems to me to be) no good reason.

Here’s what Chris Smith has to say on the Naked Scientists facebook page – please read and take action by contacting Feedback or the BBC Trust (email addresses below). And especially if you live in the Eastern region, email the regional head of programming Mick Rawsthorne mick.rawsthorne@bbc.co.uk

BBC HEAD OF EASTERN REGION GRILLED on national radio (Radio 4, Feedback http://www.bbc.co.uk…rammes/b01nq3lx) over proposed culling of the Naked Scientists.

Owing to significant listener protest regarding the BBC’s intended removal of the Naked Scientists from the Eastern Region’s Sunday schedules from January 2013, the BBC Radio 4 Feedback programme interviewed the regional head, Mick Rawsthorne, about his decision.

In the interview, in which Rawsthorne was forced to admit that the Naked Scientists is “a very good programme”, and that it is based in a very science and technology-centric part of the country, Cambridge, he then claimed that the programme is not sufficiently local.

Unfortunately, Mick seems to be suffering from ill-acquaintance with his own radio schedule, a touch of amnesia, or a poor background knowledge of geography.

Because a glance at Sunday’s regional line up – or tuning in on a Sunday afternoon – confirms that, for several hours immediately before the Naked Scientists, the airwaves are filled with American country music. Very nice for people who like that kind of thing, but not terrible local. Whoops!

Next, Mick overlooks that, from January, his radio stations will be linking up with every other local radio station in the country to form “Radio England” for 3 hours every night of the week.

Hhmm. That doesn’t sound very local either. So how is this justified, but an hour of science is not?

Next we hear that apparently Mick “doesn’t do” specialist shows.

Yet again the schedule disagrees, revealing quite a few gardening programmes scattered through the week. And having listened to them, they’re great – Peter Jackson and Ken Crowther are brilliant – but they’re also very specialist, not to mention non-inclusive for people that live in flats or apartments without gardens. Then there are the specialist shows on various musical genres, then specialist faith programmes, and then specialist sport programmes. So what exactly does “specialist” mean? Clearly just “science” in this instance.

Mick’s proposed solution to the impending removal of the Naked Scientists – and he’s assured us that Cambridge has a specific remit to deliver specialist science coverage – is to weave coverage of locally relevant science stories into existing programming. In other words, reading between the lines, to reduce science to a series of short commentaries and soundbites dotted amongst the pop-songs.

So no opportunity for (local) audiences to interact, no incisive interviews with scientists by science-specialist interviewers, and no way for science-interested parties being able to make an appointment with a programme at a dedicated time to listen to it.

We know of school teachers who set listening to our programme as part of the homework for their classes. They won’t be able to do that if the reports are dotted all over the place.

Overall, we felt that the explanation offered for the removal of the Naked Scientists was weak and unimaginative and little more than “box ticking”.

Mick Rawsthorne appears to be remaining faithful to his intention to remove the Naked Scientists from January 2013, and we’ve certainly received no offers, either from the region or another network, to continue our involvement or contributions, yet.

We urge you to listen to the episode of feedback containing his explanations (you’ve got about 3 days until it expires), and then please contact feedback – feedback@bbc.co.uk – as well as the BBC Trust trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk – to tell them whether you agree or disagree and are satisfied and convinced by the arguments put forward…

Thank you, Chris Smith and the Naked Scientists team.

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5 responses to “Naked Scientists to be axed by BBC local radio

  1. An absolutely barking mad decision if ever I saw one. I am not in the Eastern Region (am in Wales) but the show is regular Sunday listening for myself and if I miss it I catch up via podcast. I have emailed the people suggested by Chris in the special announcement podcast and also highlighted the things NS has done for me in my job as well! I did suggest if specialist programming can be found on national radio (The Organist Entertains for example) then surely something could be found for yourselves, Strangely I am yet to receive a reply from any of the emails sent………..

  2. I am in Nigeria. We have very poor internet service around where I live but I try to download any new podcast from the NS. Why would anyone try to stop a program like this?

  3. Pingback: Save the Naked Scientists – Update and actions | You do too much

  4. Pingback: Save the Naked Scientists – Update 2 and more actions | You do too much

  5. from above … ” … Mick Rawsthorne was forced to admit that the Naked Scientists is “a very good programme”, and that it is based in a very science and technology-centric part of the country, Cambridge, he then claimed that the programme is not SUFFICIENTLY LOCAL. …”
    It did seem there were very few callers/texts/e-mails and like most programmes left to the last 5 mins… mainly due to the quantity of academic articles that were packed in!
    What I did notice, a lack of local respondents … a victim of the “internuts” international success and a lack of Science etc… related programming Internationally and locally..!
    Sir Patrick Moore raised the question of the “Sky at Night” ‘s
    scheduling… I also remember Prince Philip and Prof Eric Laithwaite educating and inspiring me… without the patronising attitudes that exist today… and the Open Universities wide ranging programmes… removing them from national TV was the biggest educational crime… ever!
    Citizen Squeak … ^..^

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