Peterborough Studios Home to BBC Cambridgeshire Breakfast Show

17:23 Wednesday 16th May 2012
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Following the BBC Trust’s local radio licence review, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire is to keep its Peterborough studios. Paul Stainton will broadcast a new county-wide breakfast programme from the city from August. The remainder of the station’s output will continue to come from Cambridge. The station’s editor, David Harvey, said the new programme would maintain quality journalism that would appeal to the whole county. He joined me a short time ago with more details of why this has all been necessary. (TAPE)

DAVID HARVEY: Well two things have come together Chris at the same time. The BBC Trust have reviewed what local radio does, why we exist, and what people want from their local BBC. That’s a process that takes place every five years. And it received some 14,000 responses in various forms. And at the same time, as we’ve been talking about for some time now, Delivery Quality First has been taking place, which is a review of how we spend our money, effectively, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, or your money, the licence fee payers’ money. In the last settlement that the BBC did around the licence fee with the Government, the licence fee was fixed until 2017, and then there were some additional costs that were taken on board. The BBC have to fund the World Service and the BBC Monitoring, and also fund a partnership with Welsh Channel 4, and support the set-up of new local TV services, and the potential roll-out of high-speed broadband. So all that coming together, as well as obviously the recession, and the general squeeze on public service bodies, has meant we have less money to play with, here at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

CHRIS MANN: And BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, let’s point out, is quite unusual. It’s got two centres, both Cambridge and Peterborough, which is quite rare in the UK. Now are they going to continue?

DAVID HARVEY: We felt it was very important that we maintained a base in Peterborough, as well as in Cambridge. We’re broadcasting this show from Cambridge in fantastic state of the art studios. In Peterborough we have a lovely city-centre base there, and we wanted to maintain that. But obviously it was difficult because of the budget scenario. But I felt that in a city where there was a growing population, nearly twice the size of Cambridge, a growing audience there; very much a community where we worked very closely in partnership over the last year, working with the Council and Opportunity Peterborough to own some of the really big events that have taken place in Peterborough. And I felt that we shouldn’t retreat from the city. We should look to try and expand, particularly around our breakfast products. So what we are putting forward now is this plan where we will run one breakfast show for the whole county, and that will come from our Peterborough studios, presented by Paul Stainton. And the rest of our output, our Cambridge output, from the studios here, 80% of our output coming from Cambridge.

CHRIS MANN: As you say, it’s a modern world. It’s a difficult world. The BBC of course has to justify what it does. We’re a public service. We have heard recently of other elements of the media which have had to be cut back in Peterborough, by other organisations. But is this a committment to continue the coverage and the journalism, right across the county?

DAVID HARVEY: We, every morning on or two breakfast shows at the moment, Jeremy Sallis in Cambridge, Paul Stainton in Peterborough, we present to the listeners of Cambridgeshire around about sixteen stories a morning. That’s a tremendous amount from a small team of journalists who I’m very proud of. We’ll continue to provide the best possible coverage of the whole county. We will be looking at stories in greater depth. We’ll be pushing our journalists for more exclusives. And actually the way that we will staff our new breakfast show, which we’ll launch in August, will actually give journalists more time to dig out the really key stories, get under the surface of life in Cambridgeshire, if you like. So I am pushing that we will produce a distinctive quality breakfast programme for the whole county, that will as of now, be valued tremendously by our listeners, people listening to this programme now.

CHRIS MANN: Well we asked the listeners’ views of course, as part of thsi review. They were very much to the fore in telling the Government, telling the BBC Trust, what it wanted from its local radio. So, have we listened to the listeners? And what are they going to hear that’s different in the future? Will they notice a completely different BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, a slightly different BBC Radio Cambridgeshire? What will they hear?

DAVID HARVEY: We’ve been tremendously encouraged by the positive responses we’ve had, both directly to this radio station, and also to the BBC Trust, about the value people place on local broadcast services, and good quality local journalism. And that will be very much part of what we continue to do in the future. We’re here to keep you informed about local news, travel, weather, entertainment, sport. And our committment is to continue to do that to the best of our abilities with a strong solid journalism team, as we move forward. We are looking obviously to develop a new breakfast product, and what you hear now will change, but I believe will change for the better, as we move forward into August. And Jeremy Sallis will continue to be a key part of the radio station’s output. He’s still one of our main front-line presenters. He’ll be launching a brand new show in August, which will also develop, in the afternoons, some of the issues we’ve been talking around. Jeremy is someone who knows Cambridgeshire inside and out, and is a brilliant people-person. And I want to give him a vehicle to expand on those particular skills, to talk to people, to meet the people of Cambridgeshire in the places that they’ve grown up, the places that they live in, and expand on their stories.

CHRIS MANN: David Harvey, the editor of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.