The death of talking radio in Liverpool

The late night phone-in radio show broadcast by CityTalk, a Liverpool radio station, seems to be dying.

It is hosted by long-time talking presenter Pete Price, but nobody is calling him. Nobody cares that the radio show is there.

Once upon a time late night radio phone-ins were actually listened to and were the method by which people in an area communicated and learned what things neighbours and friends were thinking about.

The ‘late night’ talk show has been slowly disappearing around most of the country, with only LBC (National on DAB, London on FM) maintaining a version.  Well, that’s because it’s all talk all the time, of course, and based in London where people talk.  Around the UK, the commercial radio stations that used to have noteable talk shows have slowly replaced them with the far cheaper networked music shows.

So, you’d think that would mean more calls for the smaller number of talk shows that remain.  But it doesn’t.

Sadly, it seems to be the case that the listeners to talk shows just go away.  Or maybe their requirements are dealt with by BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC.

Late Night City with Pete Price, once available on the the primary ‘place’ heritage FM radio station Radio City 1, is now shuttled off to CityTalk.  CityTalk, once a station full of promise, excitement and the wonderful Duncan Barkes, is retained as an outlet to broadcast alternative match commentary when both Everton and Liverpool are playing on the same day and so they need more than just the Radio City 1 outlet, and at almost all other times CityTalk runs an oldies jukebox service with repeating pre-recorded newscasts rather than a test-tone.  And it puts Pete Price on late at night.

The responses to the Pete Price show were dying long before they shuffled him off Radio City 1, and so now he’s only available on CityTalk, which, unlike Radio City 1, nobody is listening to at other times, the show is completely dead.

A set of loyal callers are allocated times and dates when they get put on the air, and they are allowed to meander on in a way that is exasperating and tedious and anything other than entertaining.  Week after week they come on the air and say exactly the same things, Among them are those with pretty obvious mental illnesses and bizarre pre-historic ideas about ‘foreigners’ and immigration, or they hold dear conspiracy theories about how the Illuminati are to blame for everything.

Ideas are thrown out as Price ‘menus’, ‘menus’, and ‘menus’ (barkering for callers) to no avail.

Once all the regular oddballs are used up, the void is filled by pre-recorded packages or news oriented interview packages downloaded from the news supplier. All attempts to use these to spark follow on conversations and debates remain unanswered.

Void is also filled by Pete Price getting minor celebrities from his list of personal acquaintances to spend an entire hour talking to him about himself and how funny he is, or by bringing in pretend Psychics.  The switchboard then lights up with predominantly Catholic woman wanting to get messages from ‘the other side’, and this is the only format that actually drives a response akin to that which talking radio used to.

Interestingly, when Pete Price has been away and the slot filled by Roy Basnet, I have noticed a slight upsurge in the number of calls, but only a bit.  It would be interesting to see if somebody other than Price could save late night talking radio in Liverpool.

The other madness about ‘Late Night City’ is that it is a four hour show from 10pm to 2am.  Yet, from Midnight to 1am it is just music (they sell this as the ‘peaceful hour’). It makes no real sense to plonk this right in the middle of a talk show.  It should be the final hour, if at all.

I assume it has only another year or so to go before it is retired as a stand alone show, and then it will be replaced by more non-stop oldies, or some networked programming.

Actually, the best thing that could happen would be for CityTalk to relay LBC at night. LBC is only available on DAB in Liverpool, so an FM outlet would be ‘boss’ as we Scousers say.

Hmmm. That would mean Duncan Barkes on between 10pm and 1am. Brilliant idea.