An Open Letter to the BBC Trust in response to the Delivering Quality First proposals.
Dear BBC Trust,
In most countries, the indigenous music, songs and dances of an area are seen as a part of regional and national identity. They are well-promoted, encouraged and supported as a vital part of the culture. In England, it seems that folk music is dismissed a something of interest only to a small group of enthusiasts, ‘hippies from the hills,’ ‘the knit your own museli brigade.’ But it flourishes – perhaps flourishes all the better from being out of the eye of major commercial interests. There is plenty of commercial music broadcast on the radio, there is very little folk music in comparison. Very little. And we need to keep what we still have left.
With the planned changes to BBC Local Radio, we are told we will lose those local evening radio programmes which do such a great job of letting the listeners hear local music as well as music by performers coming to our area, often live performances in the radio station’s studio; along with a thoughtfully chosen selection of other folk music on record, news and interviews. One such is Radio Shropshire’s Sunday Folk, which is presented by Genevieve Tudor and syndicated to Radio Hereford and Worcester and Radio Stoke. A great many folk music radio shows have already gone from other stations, I know that a number of listeners now enjoy Gen’s show via the Internet, having lost their own local shows.
I hope there is some point in my writing to you, asking you to reconsider the ending of all genre-music programmes on BBC Local Radio, even if this means moving the best of these programmes to daytime positions to allow the evening switch-off you are planning. Far from being mere fillers, vital, grass-roots programmes like Sunday Folk allow people in these four counties – and, increasingly, a nationwide and world-wide audience through the Internet – to stay in touch with what is going on. It is good for the area, good for small local businesses and charity events in this largely rural area, it is good for morale and for social-contact. It’s also very pleasant and enjoyable listening, of course, providing a fine introduction for those new to the genre, the folk music lovers of the future. Above all, Sunday Folk, its presenters and its audience feel like family and friends. Please don’t take it away from us.