“Too expensive” broadcaster hits back

Local historian Carl Chinn has spoken out about the BBC’s decision to axe his Sunday lunchtime slot on Radio WM, calling it “deeply disappointing.”

Carl Chinn

In a statement released after his final show, he said. “I am disappointed most of all because I believe that the programme has been very successful, not only in terms of consistently high audience figures but also in respect of giving an opportunity for people to speak for themselves about their lives, their families, their groups, their neighbourhoods and our region.”

Carl, whose long-running show was axed after being told by BBC management that his weekly £270 fee was  “too expensive” spoke of the underlying ethos behind his broadcasting, which has always been a continuation of his championing of the local community,

“Nineteen years ago, when I was first asked to present a Sunday programme on BBC WM my objective was to abide by the principles of informing, entertaining and engaging with the people of the West Midlands.  I wanted the show to be a collaborative effort between myself, the guests and the listeners and that instead of being ‘my’ programme it would be ‘our’ programme.

“The second aim was to give a voice to community organisations, good causes, local history societies, longstanding companies, innovators, artists and a host of interesting individuals. As opposed to ‘sound-bite radio’, the objective was to allow people to feel comfortable and to give them time to speak for themselves and to develop their ideas.

“Importantly through letting people speak for themselves a third aim would be achieved – that of highlighting the positive aspects of our peoples and thus help to build bridges; between young and old, between ethnicities, between inner and outer city, and between Birmingham and the Black Country. In so doing, a positive light could be shone on parts of our region that too often have been unfairly stereotyped. As a result the programme could serve as an aid towards promoting unity and understanding and to lessen discord and disharmony.”

The decision to scrap the show has been greeted angrily by listeners and former guests, with Black Country author and historian Terry Price saying he was “devastated” by the news while outspoken former WM colleague Tony Butler talked of the modern trends for “bland presenters who don’t know the area”.

Guests on Carl’s programme this year have included former four-times world champion kickboxer Kash Gill, youngsters from King’s Norton Girls’ School about their project on the suffragettes in Birmingham, Horace Barnes on the Windrush anniversary and representatives from the East Handsworth and Lozells Heritage Trail.  He has also spoken to people representative of the modern face of the region, such as Karamat Iqbal on his writing about Birmingham’s Pakistani community, graffiti artist Mohammed Ali and Stephen Morrison-Burke, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate, on the people of Sparkbrook and the changing demographics of the area, as well as featuring community projects throughout the West Midlands.