An early morning phone call from former Sky News legend Bob Friend
starts my day. Bob is presenting our Evening Report programme on LBC
It’s his first radio gig in more than 20 years and he’s sounding
perfect as part of our promise to bring facts and analysis in the
build-up to election day.
This call, though, is about more
mundane matters: his transport arrangements. Bob has decided he doesn’t
want a car to collect him, he tells me he’d rather “chat” to people on
the bus and tube on his way in. I’m slightly concerned by this –
normally when people chat to me on the tube they either want something
or they’re about to try to mug me. But this is Bob Friend, man of the
people and a cameo star of the Mission Impossible movie – I’m sure
he’ll deal with anything Transport for London throws at him.
lunchtime I make a short speech to a packed newsroom to say “goodbye”
to a member of my travel news team who is leaving for St Lucia. She
replies by telling everyone that she will never forget my reaction when
she told me she was leaving.
Apparently I asked her in fairly
explicit terms why she wanted to go there. I think it was the shock
that she was leaving, but I do tell her she’ll find the travel news
fairly tame out there – apparently they only have one road.
day ends at the Madejski stadium, home of my beloved Reading FC. During
the day, chairman John Madejski had donated £2.5million to the Victoria
and Albert Museum in London – for a garden. I’m at a fans’ forum
itching to ask manager Steve Coppell if he’d have preferred the cash to
buy new players. I get my chance and he tells me he’d rather the garden
was full of players wearing blue and white hoops!
That’ll be a “yes” then.
It’s the end of Bob’s first week, and he’s been a great success.
The news team have enjoyed his company and his production team have
listened intently to our nightly de-briefs, which soon become dominated
by stories from Bob’s career.
As well as LBC News 1152, I’m also
responsible for news provision to LBC 97.3 and Heart 106.2, so my days
are often taken up with meetings to meet a variety of demands. I hold a
lunchtime meeting with news editor Tom Bateman. He’s been helping to
produce UK Leaders Live, a national commercial radio broadcast with all
three leaders due to air on Sunday. I spend half an hour apologising
for “volunteering” him for the project as he tells me about the latest
dramas he’s had to face.
Being that it’s a bank holiday weekend
just before a general election, I remind the team about the terrorist
threat and to guard against complacency. The election campaign may have
been boring so far, but none of us want it livened up for the wrong
It’s bank holiday Monday. My day starts preparing for a local 10k race that I entered in a moment of madness.
Bob and his co-presenter and “minder” Katie Breathwick are on this
afternoon, so I call the newsroom to ensure everything is okay. I’m
keen to leave my news editor Tom alone. I imagine he’s lying down in a
darkened room somewhere after yesterday’s UK Leaders Live broadcast. I
complete my run in under 50 minutes, which considering the heat, my age
and my condition is acceptable.
I call Katie to check that
they’re okay. Bob is happy to have heard from his former boss at Sky
News, Nick Pollard, who has been checking on his progress at LBC.
4pm I settle back to listen to LBC News 1152 and the first Bob and
Katie programme of the week. As I do, I wonder if I’m becoming obsessed
The bank holiday weekend is out of the way and we’re in the home straight for the election on Thursday.
We’ll be broadcasting a seven-hour election results programme
presented by Sir David Frost, who will be in this afternoon for a
I put a call in to ensure Bob and Katie can do a
pre-record for their LBC News 1152 programme later that day. It’ll be a
good way of promoting the show and it’ll be fun to hear Bob Friend on
with the Bafta award-winning Sir David.
Simon Vigar, the
breakfast newsreader on Heart 106.2, comes in to see me. I first worked
with Simon on the The Way It Is programme and he was one of the first
people we employed when we acquired LBC. He briefs me on how the new
Jamie Theakston breakfast show on Heart 106.2 is going. The newsroom is
playing a major role in its output and he’s pleased to report that
everything is going smoothly.
Spookily, Karyn White sings Secret
Rendezvous on my iPod as I head to a clandestine meeting at Starbucks
in Hammersmith with one of my freelance presenters. We discuss the
future of LBC News 1152 and a possible high-profile opportunity for
him. I leave him feeling suitably enthused as I say goodbye.
Bob’s received more fan mail, this time an email to our newsroom
from his five-year-old grand-daughter. She tells him he sounds great,
but the election is boring. A fairly accurate appraisal of the
situation, I think to myself.
Back on air, Bob calls LBC News 1152’s political editor Mark Demery
“Adam” by mistake (obviously thinking of his former Sky News colleague
Adam Boulton). Mark mumbles back “I wish I had his money….” and
there’s much laughter in the studio.
In the afternoon I put my
case forward for some engineering expenditure. I want some improvements
in the newsroom and studios, and better outside broadcast facilities in
Leicester Square, where the showbiz team spend every other night on a
red carpet. The meeting is constructive and afterwards I invite my two
engineering colleagues to “high five” in celebration. They decline
politely, gathering up their tea mugs before scampering away to their
engineering lair upstairs. I realise that I’ve been drinking too much
caffeine and head for the water dispenser.
Now, how are Bob and Katie?