Lesley Douglas on Broadcasting

American TV, yes. American radio, no. Unless it's Bob Dylan...

I must admit I didn't see it coming myself at first. I'd seen a press release some time ago about Theme Time Radio Hour, Bob Dylan's show on the American satellite station XM, and thought it sounded interesting. But it was only when I noticed a buzz building around the shows in America that I went out and got hold of a couple and listened to them. What I heard blew me away. It was nothing short of public service broadcasting - Bob Dylan sharing his musical enthusiasms in a Bob Dylan way.

The result was the first buy-in of a radio show I have ever done. And it begs a question: could there be a whole raft of other audio gems out there in the world of English-language broadcasting waiting to be snapped up by British radio stations?

Look at the television schedules. Most of the programmes made by HBO are fantastic, although I'm the only woman I know of my age who didn't watch Sex and the City. My favourite comedy of all time is Frasier - and the Golden Girls when I was younger. And then there's The Simpsons, which most people would acknowledge as the top animation show ever.

When the Americans get it right, they get it very, very right and they can test your own standards. Let's face it, there's not exactly a massive cultural divide between America and the UK.

But there is a difference between radio and television. The nature of radio is about that special one-to-one relationship between the listener and the presenter, who should be able to provide reference points that the audience can relate to. Bob Dylan manages that perfectly.

When you are considering a buy-in for radio you are talking about America or Australia to get English-speaking programmes. And I'm afraid that for quite a long time American radio has been in the doldrums.

I do think that XM and the other satellite broadcaster, Sirius, are doing some quite interesting things in the States, and when I have been in America I have been listening to them. The problem is, the things that they are doing are actually the sort of things we are already doing. They have got a Sixties service on XM and a lot of the music they play you wouldn't hear anywhere else. Except on Sounds of the Sixties on Radio 2.

The one presenter who has always stood out in America is Howard Stern. But nowadays I'm not so sure about him. I know he has got this considerable satellite deal with Sirius but in my view he is pushing it too far now. In his heyday he was a radio genius, the ultimate shock jock. But would I ever think of taking Howard Stern into Radio 2? No, I would not.

I was listening to him when I went to Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest Music Festival. I thought to myself "This sounds old-fashioned. It's purely shock." There was a time when Howard Stern was witty and shocking and pushing the boundaries. Now it feels like all he's doing is pushing the boundaries. And he's pushing them further and further and further.

And as for Australian radio, I've heard little bits but I don't think there's anything that would enhance what we already do.

Of course, you can't deny the influence of America on the growth of popular music and we cover it in great depth. Americans come here to work. Paul Gambaccini is the best example of a great music broadcaster and musicologist who happens to be American and brings an American slant to things. We also regularly use big American names to front documentaries and other shows. Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Val Kilmer have hosted shows for Radio 2. Kris Kristofferson is working on a programme about Willie Nelson, and Michael Buble is doing a show for us at Christmas.

But in all honesty I think there's little scope for us to do more buy-ins from overseas. The real reason is that we have, I think, the greatest craft skills here in the UK, both in terms of production and presenters.

The only possible reason for bringing in programmes is that they enhance your output, and the Bob Dylan show is the only thing I have ever heard that would do that.

Lesley Douglas is controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music

At last, another chance to Take That and party

On Wednesday night I was at London's Abbey Road studios, which was full to the gills with females who wanted to be transported back 15 years. The reason? Gary, Howard, Mark and Jason. Take That!

We'd done competitions on air to distribute the 300 tickets and virtually everyone in the house was a woman.

Naturally, the place really warmed up when they sang their old songs but it was the latest material that impressed me. The new single is superb.

It was a great gig, which we broadcast on Saturday night, and after the concert had finished they did a Beatles medley, just to mark the fact they were at Abbey Road.

The boys didn't have their leather gear on and there was no sign of the fire and flames they normally have on stage for the massive spectacle of their usual concerts. This was a "stripped down" show; a risk for any performer. But they pulled it off - and I say that as a Bruce Springsteen fan.

Pick a location, any location

The week after next Chris Evans is going to present special editions of his programme from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England. Chris being Chris, he decides to pick the broadcast locations - which could include the tiniest cottage in the most remote hamlet - by randomly taking them out of a tombola. Now call me a pessimist but I - and Chris's producer - noted that this could be a logistical nightmare and we could end up going from Land's End to John O'Groats. We thought maybe he should be a bit more selective. Chris being Chris, argued that the tombola was what made the whole thing exciting. That's why, Chris being Chris, he will be presenting his show from such places as Auchterderran and a place called Sebastopol. No, not the city in the Crimea - it's a suburb of Pontypool, south Wales.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power