Save the James Whale

Global Radio, the owners of the last remaining talking radio station in the UK, LBC 97.3 (FM in London, and around the country via DAB), have sacked long-time drive time talk presenter James Whale.

Ok, not ‘sacked’, just not renewed his contract of the last 5 years.

And, as is the way of commercial radio operators, they just ripped him off the air.  He presented Monday’s LBC drive time show oblivious to the fact that it would be his last. Once he was off air he was told he was no longer required. Until a replacement is announced the remainder of the week is in the hands of the Sports presenter from Saturdays.

Global Radio owns most of the major station networks – Capital, Heart, Classic, XFM, Choice, Gold, etc. – and part of their homogenising of commercial music radio is to make the presenter less and less important to the listener.  By systematically removing ‘personalities’ from everywhere apart from breakfast shows, and replacing them with people who sound like railway station platform announcers, they are able, at a whim, to replace the voice that speaks three times an hour inbetween songs.  Listeners don’t notice.  One railway station announcer on the radio sounds pretty much like any other, especially when they’ve learned the Global Radio corporate ‘affected voice’ technique.  This reduces the wage bill, since the ‘presenters’ are no longer ‘stars’, and allows for minimum wage employees to be shuffled in and out without the listeners noticing.

Commercial music radio is centred on the station ‘brand’, of which the ‘presenter’ is not a part.  Dumping the presenter off and replacing him causes no ripples whatsoever.  Listeners just don’t notice or care.

In contrast, talking radio requires the listeners to make a connection with the presenter.  It’s not about the music (there isn’t any), but about what is being said and how it is being said. The personality of the voice the audience is listening to is what they are listening to.  It’s what they welcome into their lives.  It’s the reason they are listening.

So, throwing James Whale off the air without a chance to say goodbye is cruel and disrespectful to the listeners.

Granted, Global were probably trying to avoid something being said on air that might embarrass them. Recently the BBC, who do give their presenters plenty of advance notice of non-renewal of contracts and allow them to continue on air for some weeks, suffered the on-air ranting of Danny Baker when his BBC London show was axed.  And then of course there was the final show from Chris Moyles.  It took a whole month to play out, and by the end the listeners were suffering from ‘goodbye fatigue’.

Yes, getting the ‘talent’ off the air as quickly as you can does make sense in some respects, to avoid the long goodbyes.  Years ago it was also to avoid them slagging off the company sacking them.  These days nobody in their right mind will dare slag off the company on air.  Back in the day there were so many different companies to hop to.  Today, slagging off your employer on air shuts you out from any of the stations they own, and probably shuts you out of the stations owned by the few rival companies who might see you as a hot potato or loose canon.  Saying anything nasty is probably career suicide (except on the BBC of course).

With this in mind, it might have been nicer to allow James Whale a dignified exit from LBC, a chance to say goodbye and maybe ‘hand on’ to his successor in the way that a politician may hand on when he is defeated at the polls.

Indeed, if they feared a rant that would have embarrassed them, why not include a pre-recorded section to the broadcast, or an ‘interview’ with the outgoing personality?  They could have asked Whale to pre-record, or to keep to the corporate message and not slag them off.  Indeed, since the whole output is constantly running in 10 seconds of delay, they could have ‘dumped’ anything he started to say before it got to air.

Instead, they are facing an uproar and social media (Twitter, mainly), which incidentally is 90% complimentary of James Whale, and only 10% full of anti-Whale trolling, campaigns designed to boycott and bring to the public eye the way ‘their’ afternoon broadcaster was treated by Global.

In the end its making Global look as petty and ridiculous as they looked when they banned One Direction from being played or even mentioned across their radio stations after one of them accidentally thanked Radio 1 instead of Capital Radio for an award they received.

23 comments

  1. Right – that's it – I am no longer a fan of LBC nor will I isten to LBC except for Nick Fferrari between 7 and 8am and Steve Allen IF I can't sleep. They used to be regulars as did your late night presenters, but the disgusting treatment meted out to James Whale is inexusable. I am retired and used to have LBC on during the days and always – but always- listened to it when going to sleep, but that's it, I am going back to Radio 4 and shall find another late night chat programme amongst many. Over and Out. J Dawson

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  2. John,Solihull,goodbye LBC,listened to James Whale from the good old Mike Dickin days of Talk Radio,they recked that station,LBC has gone the same way,i hate music stations,what is there left to listen to in the UK in 2013? ALL GONE

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  3. My mum (80yrs old) feels as if she's lost a close friend,quite upset if the truth be told. She didn't have clue what happened till I checked the web.She obviously hates the new bloke. MK Plumstead

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  4. James, please announce loud enough your next station you'll be broadcasting from. This will be the station on my radio preset No 1. My current LBC preset will move from No 1 to No 3, 4 or further down the list.

    Hey broadcasters out there get your skates on and sign James Whale on before some else does.

    Or James why don't you start your own station ?

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  5. I stumbled across James Whale on LBC while i was visiting London a few years ago,it was great to hear him,as i used to listen to him on Talk Radio,i always enjoyed his style and was very sad to hear that he had left LBC.

    I wonder where James Whale will broadcast now?

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  6. I only just found out that james has gone….. i thought he was just away on his hols…. i was saying for weeks hurry up james please come back, now im very upset about the whole thing………. james i will miss you on drive… i hope to hear you again on the airwaves soon

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  7. James, did not know you had gone, checked on line to read this devastating news. How cruel – enjoyed you views and topics. Will not on priciple listen to THAT station again – and look forward to catching up with you again, hopefully in the near future. God bless, and THANK YOU so much for all the fun and pure entertainment you brought into our lives.( Des & Betty )

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  8. Good he was one of the most angry man I have ever come across in my entire life,I once heard him reduce a ninety year old lady to tears on his show and he was so rude to just about anyone that phoned in,let's hope they get rid of that other obnoxious twat James obrian,he's just as bad as the whale

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  9. Just found out what has happened to James Whale,I have been trying to find out where he was,I am 76 years old and have listened to him from the early days on Talksport radio when he would keep me up most nights listening to his late night with Ash his helper,waited for him to come back after he had his cancer scare and bought his great book called Almost A Celebrity he also had a great friend called Mike Dickin who sadly was killed in a car accident.Will scour the airwaves until I find him again.there are other presenters who should have been kicked out before him.LBC will now be switched off as soon as Nick Ferrari finishes in mornings disgusted pensioner Mr. Maurice Austen

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  10. Pretty Glad hes gone to be honest. Hes kind of a nob. Ian Dale is a much better choice for Drive.

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  11. I used to love LBC but since they have moved Steve Allen to the Graveyard shift and now John Whale sacked I won't be listening again.

    It's a terrible shame as I liked Steve Allen on a Sunday morning he always made me laugh.

    I would also listen late afternoon to James Whale and to be honest the new presenter just does not cut it. I did not listen in to the guy in the evening and will now switch radio stations.

    Since Global have taken over the station has got rid of several presenters and in the process it has got dull.

    Also to get rid of James Whale like they did was disgusting. He had lots of lsteners who would like to know where he will be broadcasting next

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  12. Not sure if my last comments will be placed on here but I am disgusted by the letting go of James Whale.

    I always used to listen to LBC and have done for several years but will now change radio stations It seems to me that Global Radio want more current news for discussion this gets quite dull. I used to love Steve Allen on a sunday morning however he has been placed onto the graveyard shift and now have to podcast him. There must be lots of elderly listeners who don't have the new technology and would love our presenters back.

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  13. I am really disappointed to find James Whale gone. I too thought he was on holiday, and although I like Iain Dale particularly in his evening slot, Drivetime is not the same, and sorry to say it but Clive Bull's totally non contraversial programme and bland style is just plain boring. So where will J.W. go to? There are hardly any talk programmes left. Talksport used to be good but is filled now with sport which doesn't interest me. Radio5Live is ok and has a bit of listener discussion, but I feel there should be more talk programmes; not everyone wants to listen to music. Do let us know, James, where you will be next? what we need are feisty interesting presenters…

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  14. I 've been a follower of James since The James Whale Show on TV. I have listened to his Drivetime show with a passion, A great presenter although controversial at times always had something to say worth listening to.
    His replacement just does not cut the mustard and the really disappointing bit is I have to listen to music while driving home, James make a point of letting your followers know what you are doing and where you are doing it.
    LBC has just lost another listener

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  15. Some one at LBC needs to get some balls and grow a spine, good look James were ever you end up,

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  16. LBC have done it again. They've dumped a really professional, interesting presenter and replaced him with, sad to say, a boring nonentity. Whereas I looked forward to my daily dose of “The Whale”, I haven't felt motivated to listen to Iain Dale who, frankly could bore for England. All this after secreting dear old Steve Allen in the graveyard slot. I suppose when you have the sort of monopoly that Global have managed to amass (how did they get past the Monopolies Commission?), you don't really need to worry about anything as trivial as listeners.

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  17. Just heard part of a new programme on LBC at 10-10 sunday morning introduced by a new “presenter” called Larry Lamb what a joke ,you should hear his voice the last time I heard him was on Eastenders,I suppose he's a replacment for james ,what a joke and what a waste,still I suppose its saving money M.Austen

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  18. There is only ONE James Whale in the world of radio presenters … and he is brilliant at increasing lister stats! Open your doors all radio stations …
    your ratings will cliiiib without a doubt. Good Luck to James, where ever he may be right now …

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  19. I agree with most of the comments here about James Whale and Steve Allen. Sunday morning I never listen to LBC now at weekends. They chucked Paul Ross and Carole McGffin, now James. What is it with this James Max? Is he cheap or what he seems to have taken over the weekends? His shows are always the same.
    Thank heavens for Anthony Davis, Cristos can't we have more of him? Clive Bull
    I like and Petrie. I am afraid James O'Brien lives on another planet ]the middle class one] He does not live I the real world, he stars ranting and over we go to LONDON ad Vanessa, B,Churchill

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