So, this week brought radio audience (RAJAR) triumph for LBC, but one thing our favourite broadcaster is not doing is Leading Britain’s Conversation on diversity, says Edward Adoo.
In this week’s RAJAR results, LBC Radio’s reach increased with record figures, yet it’s on air line-up remains stuck firmly with the same, narrow mould: middle class and white.
Various broadcasters are addressing their concerns on how to deal with making their output more inclusive with a number of pioneering initiatives with the BBC, Sky. Channel 4 and Premier Radio leading the way with key appointments in production, executive and on air teams.
Yet, Global radio – the UK’s biggest radio broadcaster and owners of LBC, XFM, Capital, Classic and Heart – have yet to announce any specific schemes to address what they will do to increase diversity across their output. Global have a lot of catching up to do.
Their brands reach out to a cross demographic in London, Birmingham and other major inner cities. Global listeners are not just middle class and white they are diverse but this is not reflective with presenters and behind the scenes with editors, production and back room staff.
The controversial rebrand of Choice FM to Capital Xtra did not work in Global’s favour with many key figures in the black community questioning their commitment to providing content for diverse audiences with Reggae, Soca and Gospel music shows axed. A loyal demographic and community were in effect pushed over the edge.
I highlighted my concerns to James Rea, news editor and LBC controller, and CEO Ashley Tabor on Twitter about the lack of BAME talent on LBC. I failed to get even a response. Nothing has been done so far to change their remit on diversity and make their output more inclusive.
When I have mentioned this to my friends they have laughed off my concerns & said “LBC is too blokey, white van drivers mainly listen. It’s not ethnic”. What does that mean? Ethnic talent can’t cut it too? Of course they can.
LBC should reflect the audience its serves. It may have been rebranded as a national network but still has a London presence with it’s a FM frequency. If BBC London and Radio 5 Live can offer a diverse output with presenters and content why can’t LBC?
Sir Trevor Philips, Hardeep Kohli Singh, Adil Ray, Henry Bonsu, Charlene White, Jasmine Dotiwala and Claudia Liza Armah are just a few names that spring to mind.
No doubt those broadcasters would do a stern job hosting daily or weekly shows and be as good as their white counterparts, Nick Ferrari, Sheila Fogarty, Iain Dale and James O Brien. So why haven’t they and other BAME talent been given the opportunity to hosts key shows?
I am keen to find out what Global Radio have planned or to say about this. Hope they will finally follow the BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and Premier Radio’s footsteps in forming a strategic plan to increase BAME diversity across their networks. Let’s hope but wouldn’t place a bet on it.