A recent schedule-change decision at BBC Radio Suffolk is due to take effect from this Autumn.
The planned alterations mean a shuffle of shows with the current Breakfast Show presenter Mark Murphy taking over James Hazell’s very popular Mid-Morning Weekday Shows, whilst James is to be moved to Saturday and Sunday mornings only, and ex-BBC presenter Terry Baxter – currently Director of Communications at Ipswich Town Football Club – is being brought back to replace Mark Murphy on the Breakfast Show.
Many of BBC Suffolk’s listeners – particularly James Hazell’s fans – are venting their anger at the decision made by the Station’s Editor, Peter Cook, and have responded by establishing a Facebook campaign, and have geared-up with the addition of an online petition.
Founded and organised in mid-June by aggrieved listener Chrissie “Squirrels” Love, of Grange Farm, Kesgrave, the Facebook campaign raised over 140 members in its first two weeks and has grown steadily since. Soon after, a live signature-gathering petition was staged outside the BBC Studio in Ipswich on Saturday, 25th June, raising 36 names in just one hour, and was suplemented by a second outing on Thursday 30th June in the Market Square in Ipswich as James and his production team carried out a live show from a BBC gazebo. Chrissie was assisted by her husband, Barry, and two other avid listeners, Terry-Anna Chisholm and Helen Davey, raising another 120 signatures in just three hours.
“We have a long way to go,” said Chrissie, “but after the conversation that Lyn Andrews and I had with Peter Cook on the Saturday morning during a break from our first petitioning session outside the studio, we were encouraged by his open-minded response to continue with the campaign, in the fervent hope that we will gather enough support to show that the decision is against the strongest wishes of BBC Radio Suffolk’s audiences. We hope that this schedule alteration will be reconsidered, and hopefully, either abandoned or at least altered to allow us – James’ loyal listeners – to enjoy his continued 17.5hr presence on the station, preferably in his existing, extremely-popular mid-morning show.”
Chrissie is also considering placing petition ‘stations’ in Ipswich’s main supermarkets, and is to negotiate with the relevant Store Managers for permission. It is hoped that by placing the petitions thus, the campaign will reach a far larger local audience, most of whom appear to be surprisingly unaware of the planned schedule changes; once informed, they show great willing to sign against the decision, stating their dismay at ‘losing’ James’ much-loved style of entertainment and easy-going conversation with his many regular telephone callers.
“Essentially, the more support and petition signatures we receive,” Chrissie concluded, “the greater our chances of influencing either a holding of the current shedule, or if that should prove unattainable, we would then hope for a possible a re-consideration of the planned changes to grant James a greater proportion of broadcast time, as befits his popularity.”
In addition to his daily programme on Radio Suffolk, James also writes a regular monthly column in Ipswich24 magazine.
• See also PETITION DELIVERED»