AN EXILED BORDERER is leading the fight to save one of BBC Radio Scotland’s most popular and longest running shows.
An online petition by music promoter and journalist Loudon Temple has already gathered nearly 1,500 names after the corporation decided to axe Mary Ann Kennedy’s Global Gathering, while a Facebook page dedicated to retaining the Tuesday night show has gained almost 500 supporters.
And Mr Temple, who regularly brings talented Americana acts across the Atlantic to the Borders, claims the BBC has put budget before listener’s demands for traditional Scottish and world music.
He told TheSouthern: “If we don’t stand up against the things which really matter to folks, we are failing. In my daily life, I am sometimes journalist, music promoter, agent and publicist, but most importantly, I am a music lover and I care enough to want to bang the drum about this one.
“Mr Jeff Zycinski, head of radio at BBC Scotland, has issued a standard response to everyone who questions his wisdom here.
“You might imagine that someone in his shoes should be doing everything in his power to make BBC Radio Scotland something this whole country can rightly be very proud of.
“In truth, it is nothing to do with programming content and all to do with how he sees fit to spread his current budget.”
Mr Temple also believes the decision by Mr Zycinski, who was senior producer at the BBC’s Selkirk-based station in 1992, is also fuelled by his love of classical music.
Mr Temple claimed: “So, that points very heavily towards his reasoning for wishing to replace Mary Ann Kennedy’s Global Gathering with a revamped programme on the classical music scene in Scotland.
“But some interesting statistics have emerged since we got this campaign up and running, that all point towards another agenda.
“Recent research shows that the classical music audience (radio) drops like a stone after 8.30pm.
“And, back in 2008, the then Scottish Arts Council issued a report which showed that only six per cent of the Scottish population attended classical music events as against the nine per cent who enjoyed traditional, world and folk music events.
“In the light of those figures, might it be that the BBC is trying to justify its huge investment in classical music in Scotland through the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, etc?
“Perhaps we should all be asking Mr Zycinski just how much of our money is being spent on classical music – both radio programmes and the orchestra – and how much in comparison, is spent on traditional, folk and world music.”
Mr Temple, now based in Renfrewshire, has asked his local MSP to call on the Scottish Government to look into the issue.
He told us: “It is a damned disgrace that a programme referred to by many as a shining beacon, should be facing the chop.”
Leading folk musicians have got behind the campaign, including Karine Polwart, who formerly lived near Walkerburn and in Oxton, and currently resides close to Soutra. She said last week: “BBC Radio Scotland is supposed to be developing and supporting culturally distinctive programming, and aiming to attract more women listeners to a station whose listening demographic is already skewed against them.”
A spokesperson for BBC Radio Scotland said: “The decision to end Global Gathering – which came about as a result of the BBC’s new obligation to open up more of its radio programming to competition – resulted from a compelling pitch for a new revamped Classics Unwrapped programme which will encourage listeners to both play and listen, and will bring the word of classical music in Scotland to a new audience. It [the decision] was also based on audience research suggesting that our own listeners wanted us to do more on classical music.
“BBC Radio Scotland features a wide range of Scottish and international music – including folk, traditional, and global music – elsewhere in its schedule, with programmes such as Travelling Folk, Another Country, Jazz House, Take the Floor, Pipeline and Vic Galloway – and the station will continue to offer distinctive music across its evening schedule.
“Mary Ann Kennedy is not a presenter we want to lose from the station, so we’ll be talking to her about new projects for BBC Radio Scotland alongside her continuing work for BBC Radio 3, Radio nan Gaidheal and BBC Alba.