Friday, 28 September 2012
Then, in celebration of my redundancy, Dicko and I drove to Scunthorpe and bought a bog seat. Reader, it's blue. A radical move I think you'll agree for a bathroom that, up until now, has only experienced yellow and cerise. But, it was time for a change. Finally, I went to Hull Truck Theatre where I saw Blackout; the first full-length play of fellow Hull poet, Joe Hakim. A post-apocalyptic comedy drama, it tells the story of two men holed up in a bunker amid the ruins of the world. Buckaroo comes between them; one seeing it as a metaphor for life (pile it all on until you buckle), the other seeing it merely as a board game with lots of plastic bits. How different one's approach to life - and death - can be.
Friday, 21 September 2012
I am a Broadcast Journalist at BBC Radio Humberside, at least I am for the next few hours. Today I leave after nearly eleven years as a BBC local radio presenter. I have been wanting to email you before I go but I was not quite sure how to phrase it and now time is running out and I realise this is my chance to just tell it like it is.
George, I am a 39 year old local radio presenter and there is no place for female broadcasters like me at the BBC right now. When I started out in 2001, I was the co-presenter of the Breakfast Show and programming at Radio Humberside was balanced with female and male presenters. Over time this has changed and for the past year the weekday output between 6am and 10pm has been entirely male presentation. Four other BBC local radio stations also now have an all male presenter line up between these hours; Nottingham, Tees, Cumbria & Merseyside.
What I find worse is, as you take up the mantle, there is not a single BBC local radio Breakfast Show that is solo presented by a woman. The last remaining female broadcaster to lose her Breakfast presenting post was Helen Legh. Her Milton Keynes Breakfast opt (part of Three Counties Radio) came to an end over the summer as a result of Delivering Quality First. As you know George there are 40 BBC local radio Breakfast Shows; 34 presented by a solo man and 6 co-presented; but no solo women. Why not?
It is an absolute travesty that female broadcasters are being discriminated against in local radio. It is something I have taken up with my Station Editor, the Regional HR manager, the BBC Head of Diversity, Sound Women and even Jenni Murray. All agree but nothing has changed; in fact there are even fewer women on-air in 2012 compared to 2011.
I know diversity has already been on your agenda this week and following your visit to Radio 4's Woman's Hour you indicated that you expected the corporation to do better in getting more women on air. This is reassuring indeed. There is certainly also an issue with ageism which, in my experience, female broadcasters have to grapple with too.
For a while I fought to keep my options open here and I really struggled to come to terms with my own demise. However, the funny thing is that my experience in local radio has probably been the making of me. I have been forced to get myself out there, re-invent myself and engineer a whole new career. Life might have been steadier and safer if, like most of my male counterparts, I could have seen out my years here. Thankfully, it was not to be. I am taking voluntary redundancy, I leave at 2pm and I plan a future in stand-up poetry no less!
I agree George, the BBC is the best broadcasting corporation in the world but my drive to be creative means I must walk away. I absolutely love radio and will never give it up. I have set up my own little studio at home, have bought my own recording equipment and will no doubt be fiddling with sound waves for the rest time.
I feel like I have saved myself but as I leave I urge you to think of my female friends, colleagues and brilliant presenting talent who would give anything to have the opportunity to get on-air. It starts here at the grassroots, local radio. The rest will follow.
Very best of luck with your new role as DG and all good wishes for the future,