LBC primarily broadcasts from and for London, despite now trying to be a whole of ‘Britain’ radio station.
Most of the phone-in caller responses to the debate on LBC are from London and its suburbs. From their accents and styles of talking, it is pretty obvious that almost all ethnic groups are represented. The heated discussion can be about anything, like the rise of UKIP, Scottish independence, bedroom tax, or whether or not cyclists should be required to pass a test before being allowed on the road. There are a myriad of topics.
The point I’m making is that the callers predominantly come from what is the multicultural city of London. Nobody bats an eyelid over the religion or ethnicity of the caller, and it is largely irrelevant. Yes, there are times when a topic touches on an aspect of a religion or ethnicity, especially when something is happening in the world that highlights it. Britons heading to fight with ISIS is maybe one, of course. But outside of this example, nobody cares what the caller ‘is’, they just want to hear their point.
Things are different in Liverpool. Yes, LBC can be heard on a digital radio in Liverpool (thankfully, for those of us who want occasional gasps of the oxygen of sensibleness it broadcasts), but phone-in radio here is dominated by a lunchtime session on BBC local radio, and late nights on one of Bauer’s commercial radio outlets.
Citytalk, which despite its name, mainly plays old records rather than talk, has a nightly show hosted by Pete Price. Nobody calls it apart from the mentally ill, the drunk or drugged up, conspiracy theorists, those intent on winding the host up so that they can score points with their mates on Twitter or Facebork when he gets angry and shouts, or the completely ignorant and genuinely backward thinkers and racists.
Almost all ‘genuine’ callers, mostly from a set of really old regulars who have been calling for over 20 years, speak of things like ‘Them Muslims’ and spout the fears that come from never having seen one except on the telly. The result on the radio is that they sound like people in London and the South East must have sounded back in the 1960s.
It is embarrassing how completely backward the indigenous population in Liverpool actually are. Most are unquestioning Catholics, and so all they know is they hate and mistrust ‘Them Muslims’ as that is something they are taught from birth.
Thusly, from time to time, the late night show will devote time to bringing one of ‘Them Muslims’ into the studio so that the ignorant and the racists can call in and ask him or her questions.
To have to do this, to have such an ignorant local population, is beyond belief. Yet it is necessary to try to educate these morons that ‘Them Muslims’ are not too scary, and, hey might even support the same football team as ‘Them non-Muslims’.
I have to admire the likes of Zia Chaudhry, the author of the book ‘Just Your Average Muslim’ (more here), for his patience when it’s his turn to answer the most inane questions. He was in for a full two hours of torture recently.
Heh. As a non-Muslim, I felt embarrassed about the other non-Muslims calling in to speak to him.
Coming from London, and being an atheist, I made it my business to have an understanding of the faiths that surrounded me when I lived and worked there. At one time I worked alongside a born again Christian man and a very strict Muslim woman. Understanding them, at least at slightly more than a superficial level, seemed a polite duty.
And, to be honest, I’d previously worked on radio projects where I was the only non-Muslim amongst strict Muslims and had to gain their confidence in me. They worked hard to do the same with me.
So, it is possible that I have a major advantage over the average indigenous Liverpool inhabitant, and that’s why I find their ignorance, presumptions and superstition so embarrassing.
But, it does feel like stepping back in time. I’m assuming Liverpool isn’t isolated in its damn stupidity, and there are many other parts of the country sharing the same level of ignorance and intolerance.
Hopefully Mr Chaudhry wasn’t too offended by it. I’m sure he wasn’t surprised.
I also hope that one day the ignorance regularly broadcast on Citytalk will be replaced by the more modern conversations enjoyed by listeners to LBC.