November 15, 2015 by johnnyseifertradio
After three years of making a BBC local radio show listenable, Iain Lee left this cryptic tweet over the weekend:
This then led to Radio Today confirming the news that I was dreading:
Iain has always been a controversial presenter out of silly mistakes rather then him putting an opinion out there to be different. With a track record of presenting shows on LBC, Absolute Radio and XFM on paper Iain Lee doing a show on a BBC local radio show just should not have happened…but it worked! Waking up to Iain post Chris Moyles leaving Radio 1 made me aware that I can listen to a radio station that targets the over 50 audience even though I am only 21-23 years old:
Reason 1- Religious Outburst
Last week a controversial interviewed aired regarding biblical teachings to homosexuality as heard here:
Outrage was caused by the christian community, Iain and the BBC apologise- case closed. It is a shame if this is the reason that Iain has left as the BBC have felt backed into the corner as its a public service broadcaster. Iain has always pushed buttons to get interviewees to reveal information that is not in the press release. Listening again to the interview he has an opinion and we have to remember when it comes to religion people really do have differing views in what they believe in. I can see why he has upset a religious group but like I said, he has apologised. The world has not ended. He has not gone to jail so why was it not left there?
Reason 2- Conversations With The Elderly Listeners
One of the main reasons why I listen to his weekly show podcast is due to his conversations with the elderly. I end up laughing out loud when he winds up the regular callers. He has made these listeners like cheeky little school boys and it makes a what would be a boring local political show- FUN! He has such comedic bones in his body, he knows what buttons to press to get everyone laughing. An example of this recently was when Kelly Betts, assistant producer to the show left Three Counties and Iain was building an orbituary. A caller came on the air with a eulogy but kept putting it in the present not the past tense and getting his poem wrong. Iain made him do it four times and it was hillarious as he kept getting it wrong and as a ‘friend to Iain’ you were laughing with him. Therefore, why would you want to stop that in a morning and instead talk about local bin collection problems which is what will now be the case?
Reason 3- The Zoo Format
To non radio people the zoo format idea of radio is an alien concept. Chris Moyles was great this but it has not taken off really on any other shows and I can see why with the use of tight links in commercial radio and the BBC focussing just on their expensive personality led presenters. However, Iain had a brilliant team around him that he used to their optimum potential to add enough to the show to make an effect, but not over use them to deter away from the shows purpose and 3CR ethos:
Each member added something to the show be it humour, a conflicting opinion or a target to Iain’s jokes. By having this close knit group around him you felt as a listener an extension of the team and earned to join in with the team conversations on and what would take place off air. Iain made this effortless, you believed in him and his show.
The most sad part of all of this is I saw Iain last month at the Jackson Lane Theatre in Hampstead, London as part of his ‘Iain Versus Radio’ tour. Iain was open and honest and said how he had finally found his local radio voice and loved what he was doing. Therefore, the question lies what is next for Iain Lee? He has done commercial music shows- I can not see him wasting his talent there. He felt out with LBC so that has been crossed off. The only place he could really go to financially is BBC Five Live as a cover presenter for the next year until a slot comes available. However, with recent shake ups at 5Live I can not see that happening in the near future. Obviously, we have the podcast industry which financially is not stable but he would have a following who would listen to him. Alternatively, Iain could return to TV presenting which he has expressed he does not like. Furthermore, why stick an autocue in front of him when he is amazing an improvisation?
I wish radio stations would keep ‘shock-jocks’ such as Iain, Danny Baker and Jon Gaunt who have an audience who like what they do. They have all been in the radio industry long enough to be personality-led, be controversial but to an extent reflect their repspective radio stations agendas. At the end of the day, we do not want vanilla presenters who are not going to make the headlines. Here are three presenters who will give national newspapers column inches to fill with their latest sensationalist radio link that brings their radio stations more listeners with a little slap on the wrist from OFCOM.
BBC Three Counties Radio shame on you for not sticking by your presenter!