A Personal view of BBC Radio 4 Today

  • Posted on: 30 January 2017
  • By: rob

Some of my views on my favourite radio programme, BBC Radio 4 Today.

Arts Coverage

Please, just less of it. To my ear, there are too many long (~10 minute) magazine articles on the arts and media, some days you even have several. My suggestion is to limit these type of pieces to one a week. Will Gompertz and Rebecca Jones could be given non-speaking roles.

Science Coverage

More of it. There is a constant river of scientific conferences and journal publications. Avoid reporting on wanky press releases and just report on recent papers and presentations with good quality interviewees to discuss the topic.

Mathematics Coverage

Don't degrade mathematics knowledge. It is not clever to say you are no good at maths. Just imagine telling the listeners you can barely read. The country is sorely lacking in well educated and trained mathematicians, and The Today Programme should consider a long term goal to improve the mathematical knowledge of the nation.

Engineering Coverage

I am left wondering if anyone on the Today team even know the discipline of Engineering exists. A Google search on how many engineers are there in the uk tells you there is a shortage of engineering skills in the UK and the Today programme would do well to have a significant amount of coverage of a wide variety of engineering news and current affairs.

Sports Desk

Some suggestions:

  • Give up the gambling tips.
  • Less coverage of main stream sports.
  • More coverage of sports that don't get much media coverage.
  • Whenever there is a world championships event on, that should get a mention before it starts, which home nation athletes are taking part, and a mention at the end of the event.
  • Golf is not a sport, and need not be discussed.

Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day (aka #tftd) is generally so poor as to be a candidate for removal from the programme. If it must stay, then at least allow humanists to have a go to. For listeners who need a daily antidote to Thought for the Day, I suggest Platitude of the Day.
Thought for the Day can be summarised thus:

  • Something in the news. Isn't Jesus brilliant. (CofE)
  • Something in the news. Isn't the Pope brilliant. (Catholic)
  • My family and I are brilliant. That reminds me of something Jesus always used to say. (Anne Atkins)
  • Something in the news. My religion has something profound to say about that. (Everyone else)

How about a weekly slot where someone gives an objective critique of the content of the slot. It might actually make the #TFTD writers consider their words a bit more carefully.

Personal Tragedy

If you need to give listeners a warning about a piece before you broadcast it, then perhaps it is not suitable material for the program. If there is a warning, I turn off and rarely turn it back on again. I am sure that people really do have very traumatic experiences, but I don't want to hear the details of just how unpleasant they are. Violence, sexual violence, genital mutilation and injuries from accidents appear to be your favourites in this category. I would prefer more general articles about the subject, if it must be covered.

News about Awards

Award ceremonies are not news. Please don't waste time on them. Or at least give time to award ceremonies that are not just arts and media awards.

Less Opinion, more Objectivity

There is lots of opinion on the programme, but often this is not countered by objective analysis. The Radio 4 programme "More or Less" does a great job of looking at the numbers behind news stories. This type of journalism would be a great asset the the Today Programme and should be incorporated where ever possible.

Headlining your own Interviews

When the 8 o'clock news headlines contain the words "Person x said on this programme", then you are doing it wrong. The contents of an interview should not be recycled as a headline, better spend the time on objective analysis of their interview.