When Local Media Becomes National Media

One of the most attractive things about my choice of occupation is the unpredictability of each day. Apart from the usual diarised or scheduled items, like traffic, weather, news, commercials, interviews or studio guests, there are those moments that make the heart beat just that little bit faster and make one realise that there is no other job I’d rather be doing. These little shots come in many shapes and sizes and can be generated by all manner of things out of ones control. The publics thirst for a news-led agenda is reflected even in a predominately music radio show like mine. Last week as I was taking my ‘new year resolution’ walk with a lovely dog called Beau the programme controller from HFM called to say that ITV news were sending a producer and cameraman to the station to get a few shots of me at work. It was in light of plans by Baroness Warsi, Chair of the Conservative Party, to speak on ‘My Faith’ when delivering the annual Sternberg Lecture at Leicester University, which, in itself is not the least bit controversial. However, the Baroness had made headlines when she was quoted as saying that prejudice against Muslims has “passed the dinner-table test” and become socially acceptable in the UK. ITV news were looking to illustrate the importance and dangers of such a controversial suggestion, and the impact that it might have locally, so they had chosen HFM radio, which covers south Leicestershire and north Northamptonshire, as an illustration of immediate public reaction prior to the speech taking place. During my drive to the station I remembered that I hadn’t shaved that morning. This is telly we’re talking about. One might be able to get away without a shave on radio but one has to at least try for TV. I stopped off at a garage for a safety razor and some shaving cream.

Richard Oliff on ITV's News At Ten. Thursday 20th January 2011

 

As my show began we spent the first hour discussing the various aspects and potential implications that such a speech could have, inviting people to call in with their views. The cameraman was with me for the best part of half of that first hour, getting shots from every conceivable angle. Then as quickly as they’d arrived they were gone. Heading off to Leicester to film a group of people of all faiths sitting around a restaurant table discussing the Baroness and her impending speech. The idea being a replication of the ‘dinner-table-test’. The producer had told me that the piece would be on the national News at Ten later that evening, though; given my experience I’d treated this with a certain amount of scepticism. In truth I can’t remember the last time I’d watched the News at Ten. Still, Liz and I poured ourselves a glass of wine and sat back to see if this ‘thing’ might materialise. Then, shortly after ten fifteen there I was in my place of work, taking a call live on air. It renders one completely speechless.

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