Library recording booths make new radio station more local than ever

By Jon Slattery

The BBC is aiming to free its journalists from the chains of a head
office and put the local back into local radio when it launches its new
station, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, at the weekend.

In an experiment which will be keenly watched by BBC local radio
managers, the station will have four content producers based across its
patch in Stratford upon Avon, Rugby, Nuneaton and Leamington.

The
producers will broadcast from libraries within their patches, which
will have BBC branded booths linked to the station, or from specially
equipped vans when they are out covering stories.

The idea is for
the journalists to gather, produce and present material from their own
area without having to go back to the station’s headquarters in
Coventry.

Sue Curtis, content producer for Rugby, told Press
Gazette: “We are looking at new ways of working and, if it is
successful, it could be rolled out to other BBC local stations.

“The
booths in the library will be totally open to the public and branded as
BBC and have the equipment in them to allow us to do interviews.

“The
idea is that we can be where the people are and be in touch with the
communities and cover the issues they think are important.”

She
added: “The BBC has to be seen as accessible and people feel more
comfortable walking into their local library than having to walk into a
local radio station.

“The aim is to stay out in the area and go
back to the office in Coventry as little as possible. It is very much
about us hearing people’s voices as opposed to us broadcasting at them.”

The
BBC said Warwickshire libraries has welcomed the initiative –
originally suggested by BBC Coventry & Warwickshire editor David
Clargo – as they want to broaden their appeal to the public.

The
other content producers are Russell Joslin in Stratford upon Avon,
Moira Rawlings in Leamington and Emma Snodgrass in Nuneaton.

Jon
Gaunt, formerly of BBC London, will be the first presenter on
BBCCoventry & Warwickshire when it goes live at noon on Saturday (3
September).

Former Radio 1 presenter Liz Kershaw has also signed for the station.

The launch of Coventry & Warwickshire represents a return to local journalism in the area by the BBC.

Ten years ago the local BBC station in Coventry was merged with BBC WM.

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