I have a lot to thank Duncan Barkes for, but more of that later. He’s a radio presenter. More specifically a talking radio presenter.
Until very recently he was the evening mouth on a stick on LBC. He then suddenly disappeared.
LBC is owned and operated by a radio borg group called Global. Global has an obscure policy of ‘disappearing’ people.
I’m not saying they make people ‘life extinct’ or lock them away as there’s no actual evidence of that, but what they do do is sack people instantly. Any of their employees on any of their radio stations can be asked into the local Programme Controller’s office 5 minutes after completing one of their regular shows to be told they are no longer required. They are not allowed back on the air, ever, and their name and any reference to their existence is expunged from the station website. Fellow presenters or whoever is suddenly tasked with replacing them are not allowed to mention them in any way. This is the fear under which all Global radio presenters live.
Presenters are ‘fired’ not so much for being bad or having poor listening figures, but because, on a whim, the bosses want to try someone else.
They don’t just ‘fire’ presenters. When One Direction accidentally mentioned BBC Radio 1 instead of Capital Radio, Global threw its toys out of its pram and banned all One Direction songs and all mentions of the group from any of its radio stations. This ‘disappearing’ of One Direction back-fired on Global. They became, well, ‘globally’ phenomenally successful without Global’s help or hindrance. One Direction fans didn’t need Global’s radio stations in any way. This fact should scare them into realising that they might dominate in ownership they don’t dominate in setting trends or making a difference, just making money. Outside of this they are out of touch and irrelevant.
From a listener’s perspective, one day the radio presenter exists, the next day they’ve gone. This can hurt or confuse a listener to music radio, despite today’s presenters being forced to all sound the same and hold back any individuality or personality they might have, but imagine how it feels for a listener of a talking radio station. They make a connection, a friendship, a relationship with the voice they hear talking.
To then ‘disappear’ that person is wicked and cruel. The BBC, in contrast, announces well in advance that a presenter is ‘leaving’ and allows them to say their goodbyes. It is far more honest with the listeners that the commercial radio station owners are.
Luckily we have social media, so those who care about the person they listen to can watch it to see the hapless presenter politically correctly say their goodbyes.
And when Duncan Barkes ‘disappeared’ from LBC without any goodbyes or explanation from the station, it was down to his Twitter feed to thank his loyal and long term listeners. The good news was that he would soon be joining ‘another’ station in the area. Also, he said that this was his own decision, progressing his career, if you like, and there would be further announcements soon. A good tease, mainly for legal reasons, but also comfort for those who, like me, are Duncan Barkes anoraks.
So where did Duncan go you ask? More soon!
My thoughts exactly…
I like Duncan actually – I came upon him first a few years ago on Tommy Boyd’s Play Radio show during which there is a classic segment from the archives where he ‘interviews’ alien abduction loony Riley Martin.
In fact I have iPlayered some of his new BBC London stuff and he does seem to be more honest and ‘real’, if that’s a thing. The BBC although lamented a lot for their supposed left wing bias (and what’s wrong with that?), are very broad minded. Have a listen to Iain Lee’s daily show on Three Counties ,which he summarises weekly in a Podcast, for some really fun and clever content.
In particular, working at a talk radio station seems to be a precarious business. In this genre more than any other, listeners get attached to their favourite presenters and you are right that it can cause a kind of grief. It does the station no favours at all when they axe presenters in this way.
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