What do you want at five o'clock in the morning? Ideally deep slumber between silken sheets, of course, but if you have to be awake, is Vanessa Feltz the answer? For most radio networks, getting-up time is the most intimate part of the day, the time when listeners are at their most irascible. Annoy them at your peril. Sarah Kennedy, who departed the Radio 2 early morning show abruptly last year, had, to say the least, a distinctive style. She was Bunty Bagshaw, listeners were the Dawn Patrollers. There was cosy giggling and in-jokes. How will three million listeners take to Vanessa, a crisp, no-nonsense Cambridge First? And how will Feltz cope with a 3.30am start, as well as hosting her daily Radio London show, a new Channel 5 show, and deputising for Jeremy Vine?
Ed Miliband admitted yesterday that he had to improve the way he got his message across to voters as he pleaded for more time during an uncomfortable radio phone-in.
It's a fine art, presenting a phone-in. Like politicians, presenters face the daunting occupational hazard of having actual contact with the public, however chatty, deranged or boring they may be. It was Peter Cook who first realised that you could call in and say just about anything you liked, live on air, as long as you weren't obviously obscene. He spent many happy evenings between 1988 and 1992 calling Clive Bull's late-night LBC phone-in, posing as Sven from Swiss Cottage, a bipolar Norwegian fisherman engaged in a fruitless search for his estranged wife and talking about fish. You can still hear some of these meanderings on YouTube. "You sound a bit depressed," says Clive, unnecessarily.
The Archers, which was originally founded to impart Government advice about the turnip crop and the prospects for pig farming, has been dispensing some less rural tips recently. Peggy has been learning to surf the web – an activity almost guaranteed to end in the arrival of a romantic stranger in Ambridge. This storyline is in fact a not-too-disguised part of the latest BBC public information campaign to target the Digitally Disadvantaged. That's not those of us who regularly fritter vast chunks of our time on Facebook and email, but the nine million people who have never got online at all. Now a campaign called First Click has been devised to drag them into the 21st century.
After insult is caught on microphone, PM is forced to embark on apology dash
There are times when the whole of BBC radio seems in the grip of one vast, unstoppable wave of reminiscence, like some garrulous granny of the airwaves whom no one likes to interrupt. Nostalgia is the order of the day. Here's just a small list of things people have been nostalgic about this week. The Berlin Wall. The M1 motorway. The BBC's Maida Vale studios. Victorian photography. Izal lavatory paper. Yes, lavatory paper! The nasty, hard, shiny kind. Incredibly there was an entire programme about this on Radio 4, Now Wash Your Hands, which examined how Izal was made, how it was good for writing on and playing with a comb. What it actually felt like on the skin. What feelings were aroused by its coal tar aroma. You can keep your madeleines, Marcel Proust. Here in Britain, we get misty-eyed over medicated loo roll.
He is the working-class hero, the champion of the underdog, the everyman in search of the American Dream. His place in the pop canon is irrefutable, his name mentioned in the same breath as Tom Waits, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. He's a born showman, a consummate storyteller, a principled poet. So why is it that Bruce Springsteen leaves me cold?
Home-grown produce and plenty of fresh air – no wonder demand for allotments is soaring. Graham Norwood investigates