Saturday, 6 October 2012

Radio Onederful

Been quite a challenging week for Radio 1, what with Savile, Everett - and now Liz Kershaw. Some tales revealing aspects of life at the BBC that Auntie seems shocked to hear.

In the case of Liz, was I present? I worked at R1 from 75-78, 82-84, 86-88. Notice the short bursts, rather than a fully-fledged career. I knew Liz - in fact I worked with her before she joined the station, making a BT chart rundown telephone service every week. And I was also around when she joined the station.

I don't know which of the schoolboys stuck his hands where they shouldn't be. And, frankly, I don't know why Liz can't name him. But if this "trick" happened, it was a specific case. In her R4 Today interview she goes on to imply that it was a more general practice.

It wasn't. I simply don't recognise the culture she describes. R1 was staffed by (mainly) fun people from both sexes (if that matters) and what went on was no different to any other institution or workplace. We had straights, gays, closets, tarts, tramps and even the occasional vicar. But, strangely enough, we had people who worked hard at being professional.

If anything, R1 was more camp than predatory. If someone has that picture of me at a Radio 1 Week dressed as Tina Turner, please let me know. (That very day I had been racing trucks at Brands Hatch with Barry Sheene....). Any chance that some of my male colleagues had to put on lipstick and tight clothes as "entertainment", they took it.

Liz says it was like a rugby club. No - it was like a comprehensive school. A uni. A college. Liz - it was life.

Times, as she said in the interview, change. 2012 is a very different world to 1987. And better for it.

However, my English master (grammar school, btw) told me something I've never forgotten. It is wrong to generalise from the particular.

Liz - you're guilty of that.

39 comments:

  1. Mike. You do know that you are now belittling a woman who has come out and reported years of sexual abuse? Do you seriously believe that Liz Kershaw would make something like that up? If you do think this it is the case that she is a fantasist, then please say it out loud rather than a petty crack about the grammar of a colleague whom claims that she was bullied.

    It is fair to say that it happened behind your back - if the predators thought that you would not put up with this behaviour, then this is fair enough.

    This blog entry makes you look like a bully and raises suspicions that you were part of the problem.

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  2. A curious response. Did I write that she made it up? She's made a accusation without providing evidence. She then expands this single accusation into a wider smear across the mainly great, caring people she worked with. Liz should name the perpetrator and get this all in the open.
    Please do not prove yourself to be daft by including me in any accusations of bullying. Nothing that I wrote indicates that.
    BTW - why the anonymity?

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    1. Sorry about the anonymity. Your blog reply software does not put my name (Mike Hall) in from my Google+ account.
      "However, my English master (grammar school, btw) told me something I've never forgotten. It is wrong to generalise from the particular."
      That sentence raised my hackles as it seems elitist and bullying - "I am grammar school! I remember my English classes!" - though I can think of many reasons why it would not seem the same to yourself. This leads me on to thinking that you were part of the problem, naturally defending the bullying culture or being part of it. I can remember being part of the bullying culture when I started work in the 1980s, being encouraged to pick on a pretty young secretary + a female junior manager, to join the lads.

      There would be no evidence after this amount of time, thus Liz would be opening herself up to a libel/slander lawsuit if she publicly named the man (or men) who allegedly groped her on air.

      Liz's memories were par for the course for pretty unmarried women in the days before CCTV and DNA evidence. I am quite surprised you are defending the times when sexually harassing women was normal in male-dominated workplaces, even if there was a lot of social diversity in Radio 1.

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  3. Just getting used to blogging. Find talking much easier!
    The "grammar" thing was a dig at myself, having mentioned the comprehensive schools. And also to distance myself from the public school ethos that pervades the BBC.
    When Liz was in the studio on-air, she would have had a producer and engineer (at least) watching over her. They would have acted if they witnessed anything improper. Or if they had been asked to act at the time.
    It's a pretty small group from which the perpetrator would have come. Naming him would be sensible - and she can always call on her witnesses.
    In fact, given the Savile history, it's NOT naming him or reporting him that causes these things to get lost and (ultimately) buried.

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    1. I think that is the point, men at the time saw it as 'larking about' what the women thought was unimportant.

      She did complain and she relates what happened,

      "I couldn't say anything, I couldn't even exclaim because I was broadcasting to the nation. When I complained to somebody they were incredulous and said 'Don't you like it, are you a lesbian?"

      Naming him would indeed not be sensible, if you were to take action, the best thing would be to report it to the police. Trial by public media is indeed foolish.

      I used to work for Molinaire (in the accounts dept.) back in the early 1980's and indeed found the behaviour of the stars strange.

      I am afraid Mike, your views belong back in that era. Some of us have moved forward.

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  4. I completely agree that Liz should report him, though it is probable that she does not want the alleged perpetrator to face ruin for something that happened 20+ years ago and she clearly feels a lot of guilt about what happened, as do many victims of sexual bullying.

    Since Liz only just complained now, the odds are that members of her team either were part of the bullying (victim or perpetrator) or thought that she was ok with what was happening: that it was part of the "banter", like I am sure someone whipped up your skirt while you were in drag. I am sure that someone who did not know that Liz was being abused and thought it was just a joke that everyone was in on, would be utterly horrified now.

    Oh, and blogging is great for me :) You get to meet people from far outside of your social circles, and there is no such thing as a delete key when talking!

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  5. Dear Mike,
    Liz may be wrong on another score too... I do not recall Jimmy Saville ever having hosted a Radio One Roadshow. He was 46 when they began in 1973, his sprightly 43 year old junior Fluff hosted the first show, then Stewpot, Noel Edmunds, Tony Blackburn, DLT, David Hamilton...
    Worryingly, I have tried to alert Radio 4's Today programme to this easily checked information, but alas I have not the magic code required to pass through reception or the Belfast BBC 03700 100 444 hotline (more like 'coldline) where comments and complaints are now routinely filed and dealt with in a third and fourth party removed kind of way.
    Why does no one at BBC seem interested in this uneasy revelation?
    If Jim did not host a Radio One Roadhsow Liz is either be repeating untruths or telling them and should be made to explain.
    Tony Howard

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  6. I think you're being unfair to Liz Kershaw, Mike. This was obviously an agonising period for her, and the memory must be quite painful. It is understandable that she hasn't named the person and she is under no obligation to do so. Doing so would bring her more pressure, perhaps of a legal nature, which she doesn't deserve.
    I can't remember JS doing the roadshow either. He may have done some of the special ones. Smiley Miley would know.
    It's fairly obvious who she is referring to, by the way, but I didn't work there, so what do I know?

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  7. P.S She may have been referring to the Radio 1 Club, predecessor of the Radio 1 Roadshow.

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    1. Sorry Paul, but with allegations like these, I'm sure everyone will agree it's important to be factually correct...
      There is no record of Jimmy Savile doing a Radio One Roadshow. Yet to hear Liz Kershaw's allegations you'd have thought he was all over the country with it.
      There is a similarity with a Swedish weather girl presenter here isn't there... it is not obvious who she is referring to and the gnawing thought that anyone of the well loved DJ's listened to by millions could be guilty has been created.
      At this point I'm scratching my head wondering how a happily married and highly principled man like DLT could fit into the rugby locker room mentality Kershaw describes.
      I think it's interesting to note the DJ who was terminated to make way for Liz Kershaw's arrival on the Evening Show was Janice Long... we were told at the time Janice was deemed to be too Mumsy for Radio One.
      The critically important thing when an untruth is discovered is too nail it, the churning out of untruths unchallenged is wrong and dangerous.

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    2. "with allegations like these, I'm sure everyone will agree it's important to be factually correct...
      There is no record of Jimmy Savile doing a Radio One Roadshow. Yet to hear Liz Kershaw's allegations you'd have thought he was all over the country with it" - oh come on, that's pointlessly pedantic. This is off the cuff recollection, not a Court of Law. Personally, I wouldn't have been able to distinguish between the Roadshow and the Radio One Club either. I think it's clear what she MEANT.

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    3. I think it's right to expect better than "off the cuff recollection". Sorry Garry, "I think it's clear what she MEANT", what did she mean?

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    4. Do you think this might be the kind of behaviour she's referring to... a little closer to home perhaps... here in his own words from a Daily Mail interview...
      "I helped the removal men with the boxes, then took them to a pub on the promenade to buy drinks. Juliette joined us. After half a lager she left to return to the house. She had a thousand domestic jobs to do and looked thrilled to be nest-making. Our domestic phone line was not yet connected, she said. Her mobile battery was flat. Could she borrow my mobile? I didn't give it a second thought as I bought the men another beer.
      Half an hour later, I came home to find the house empty. On the kitchen table was my mobile displaying a text message. At first, I didn't recognise it. Then I remembered. It was from a woman with whom I'd had a one-night stand at the Womad Festival almost a year before. I had not gone to the trouble of deleting it. I had compounded the insult of an infidelity with arrogance and carelessness.
      I found Juliette on the promeinnade, staring out to sea, her face a mixture of grief and anger. For the next few months we staggered along, Juliette in a state of understandable and unrelenting bitterness. There was much about my past behaviour that was wrong; I had hoped the Isle of Man would be a fresh start for us. But she was not to be convinced of my fidelity, not even by my eager move away from my old life and my old ways in London."
      Liz's brother Andy Kershaw's revelations about 'his old ways'...
      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2008143/I-run-facing-year-jail--I-telephoned-wife.html#ixzz28lgSBCOJ

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    5. Actually, this just looks curiouser and curiouser doesn't it...
      Liz Kershaw joined Radio One in 1986, a year or so after her brother Andy Kershaw and 'his old ways' joined the Radio One 'locker room'...
      Andy joined 275 & 285 whilst simultaneously managing Billy Bragg, his guitar and his amp onto Top Of The Pops singing 'Between The Sheets' err 'Wars'...
      Goodness, I have just received notice that Billy Bragg will be giving the second 'BBC 6Music John Peel Lecture' on Monday 12 November 2012...
      However, as Liz works for BBC 6Music perhaps she'll be raising the matter of whether it is appropriate for this event to go ahead in the light of her revelations and allegations about John Peel.

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    6. I wonder if the 'rugby locker room' mentality Liz Kershaw refers to is in fact the office room her brother Andy shared with John Peel and producer John Walters. I wonder if Liz, formerly of the 1984 band Dawn Chorus & The Bluetits visited that room as her brother's guest in the year before she started at Radio One or maybe even before then when Andy was on the airtime trail blagging for Bragg.

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  8. He did lots of Radio One clubs though....And I think 40 plus women coming forward concerning Jimmy Savile more than makes up for any vagueness on Liz Kershaw's part.

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  9. Now Sandi Toksvig as well....
    Bbc.in/VAknDk
    And Liz Kershaw is going to see the BBC Director-General to give him specific details about her allegations.

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    1. Oh dear... I'd forgotten this sorry tale...
      It's only five years ago ... What did Kershaw say?
      Sinister... She should know...
      "In July 2007, following a complaint from Buckingham Palace about the mis-representation of the Queen in a BBC documentary, Mark Thompson, the BBC Director General, in a public purging exercise, singled out Liz Kershaw’s show in what became an infamous BBC scandal, announcing that some of the DJ’s shows that were aired as live were in fact pre-recorded and that members of the production team had passed themselves off as listeners texting and emailing in to competitions.
      On 30 July 2008, the BBC was accused by media watchdog Ofcom of 'misleading its audiences' by 'faking' audience interaction. Ofcom stated that the BBC 'deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly and fined the corporation a record £400,000 of which Kershaw's BBC Radio 6 Music show was fined £115,000 for seventeen shows in 2005 and 2006.
      Kershaw was forbidden from commenting on this by a clause in her contract which prevented her from speaking publicly about the BBC and its affairs."

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  10. Good.
    They should now be published in the fullest detail.

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  11. ITV and it's shareholders (Associated News & News International) are out to destroy one of the BBC's strongest legacies - the pop culture. No matter what people say about swarms of apparent "victims" of Savile, yesterdays pathetic potshot at another dead dj, John Peel, made the witch-hunt obvious. Did they strategise this exercise? That was a bad move at this stage.

    Also, given all this BBC bashing, can the ITV/ITV Shareholders supporters & apologists confirm Fleet Street in the 60s, 70s & 80s was a place that exercised internal equality with no sexism, bullying or abuse? If this can be provided perhaps we might get somewhere....

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    1. News International taking the moral highground? Surely not...

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  12. I will be discussing this subject with @richardpbacon on 5 Live after 2pm, Monday 8th October.

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    1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01n61ph/Richard_Bacon_08_10_2012/

      From about 10min 58 seconds to 23 min 40 seconds.
      I think you really hit your stride and puts your points across best from about 17 mins 30 seconds.

      Jackie Brambles sounds very, very nervous about moving too far from the fence all through, trying to make it a Radio One history programme, and became more nervous as you became more fluent. I simply cannot believe that young Jakki only got "supportive attention", unless she was surrounded by gay bodyguards at all times. Jakki would have been more used to that sort of attention than Liz though, which would have made a difference.

      To me, it sounded like you believe something happened and know who probably did it; are vexed that Liz Kershaw did not say something at the time and are barely restraining your fury that she is not saying enough now as a mature, experienced woman.

      Oddly enough, I don't think you sounded that worried about mud being slung everywhere, only commenting directly on that when Richard Bacon pushed you.

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  13. Mike, you are half right and half wrong about some of the culture back then. It was changing rapidly with people like you who were intelligent and saw it as part of your professional career.

    But there was another side, the old guard left over from the 60s who were "kings of the hill" in their own minds and grabbed at anything they could get away with. They may not have been at R1 any more, but they were still hanging around.

    You know I worked with them all at one time or another (and, trust me, despite our playful spats, working with you was a joy compared to many of the others). (Livewire, the number one music station, on the phone!)

    Liz was a tough, argumentative cookie back then, but I also know that when she started at the BBC, she found it very tough; though she wouldn't admit it.

    I don't know if she encountered any of the boozed up old radio letches I knew painfully well, it sounds like she did and I am sorry to hear that.

    The BBC was changing very fast back then - but not everyone moved at the same speed. You were on a lightning trajectory, I doubt you saw much of the dirt that was still around.

    All the best to you

    Joss

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    1. I am afraid I do not think he is even half right. It is the male (or occasionally female) groper who commits the 'heinous crime.'
      How would you like it if a female colleague were to grope your testicles every time you saw her? Or if man were to grope your mother/sister/daughter? I, along with many other women, have been the target of the office groper.It is unpleasant, dirty and demeaning. Young women were - and probably still are - attacked by these perverts, because that is what they are. They go for those who are unsure of how to cope with what is an invasion of privacy. It is also bullying.

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    2. Actually, I meant Mike was half right about the culture at the BBC, not whether harassment is right or wrong. It IS wrong and always has been.

      Sadly, back in the 80s and earlier (and sadly even still now, though less), many blokes and even some women saw it as part of the system.

      It shouldn't have been.

      Read my own blog on the era and my Defence of Liz:

      http://www.foodloversdiary.com/kitchen-sink/in-defence-of-liz-kershaw/

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  14. It seems that 'back then' may apply 'back now'...
    Comedienne and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig on the Andrew Marr show yesterday... 'I too was groped while broadcasting in the 1980s'
    More worryingly she continued 'And I'm not sure it's changed completely if I'm honest, there's still a sense of the very famous boys thinking they can get away with all sorts of things, not necessarily pleasant...'
    I think we should hear who she is referring to. These allegations are so serious, specifics should be revealed and the sooner the better.
    As Mike Smith intimates, it is wrong to generalise from the particular.

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  15. How many of these "revelations" are part of an attack by News International?

    Is there a hidden agenda?

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. WHATS WRONG MIKE DONT LIKE THE TRUTH

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  18. Your problem is that I only want the truth. Please don't post anonymous comments which have no evidence to support them. And let's all concentrate on equality for all. All I have asked is that names should be named and investigations should happen. And they are.

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    1. Mike, you are right to demand that. That sense of fairness should extend further too. I hope that other media organisations don't hide behind the BBC scandal hoping no one will notice them.

      As I said before, there were two sides to the industry in the 80s and 90s - the new people, like yourself, often from Kids TV backgrounds, full of aspirations and the sense of "anyone can make it" that was part of the 1980s. There were a pile of you who used to come blowling into the studio - you, Bruno, Edmonds (okay, so he is older), all the new wave comics... You turning up with two broken legs and making 30 Mike Smith Helicopter jokes in succession before anyone else could get a word in - it was a lot of fun!

      But there was also the older, seedier side that was still there, refusing to go away, and sometimes with power.

      I don't think you guys knew it was there, but as a sound engineer/producer, I got to see both sides from all over the industry. It was not always the fun 6th form common room you experienced, sadly. Some of it resembled a crocodile pool, to be honest.

      Sounds like Liz (and others) got caught in it. Something should have been done about it back then.


      Joss

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  19. Dear Mr Smith

    Just to say well done on your comments to Radio Five Live this week. You are a rare voice of sanity in a world that is in the process of going mad.

    I am just an ordinary member of the public who has never worked in the media and wouldn't know one end of a TV or radio studio from the other.

    Nevertheless it is very sad to see how it has become so fashionable to belittle and attack the good things about the past. As horrendous as the things that Jimmy Savile seems to have done are, the furore over his actions is very conveniently being used as a stick to further this kind of agenda.

    The disgraceful attack on Radio 1 being a case in point. Without knowing anything about who did what or who groped who, one thing I do know is that Radio 1 in the 1980s was light years better than it is today. You should encourage your readers to check out the excellent clips on www.radiorewind.co.uk to see what I mean. As an 11 year old in 1987, I remember your breakfast show with great affection. The BBC massively over-reacted against the Smashie and Nicey satire in the early 90s, threw the baby out with the bathwater and it has been downhill ever since. But notice how they never miss an opportunity to put the boot into the old Radio 1 and the people who loyally worked for them.

    Same with all these "biopics", otherwise known as hatchet jobs on people who are dead so can't sue. Admittedly the Kenny Everett one was OK, but many others such as the one on Steptoe & Son were based on blatent, outrageous lies.

    Good luck with the blog.

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  20. Yes BBC5Live certainly tried to do a hatchet job on you over "LizGate" when they followed up your call minutes later with a call from Biddy Baxter of Blue Peter Fame who claimed to have had "Hairy Encounters" while working as a junior Producer at Radio One. So with http://www.frequencyfinder.org.uk/r1_sched_83_87.html it's not hard to find the "Hairy Monster" who groped Liz. Is their a bigger picture to all this or is it just nonsense?

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  21. Philip, To be fair Biddy was referring to her early days as a studio manager in BBC radio. She never worked at R1. At the end of the interview she says "I'm a bit more Mike Smith than I am Janet Street-Porter."
    You can her her whole interview from 22 mins in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01n61pk#programme-broadcasts
    And she steadfastly refuses to jump on the media bandwagon.

    Let's have the investigations.

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    1. Mike,it's quite right that you should stand up and defend the reputation of Radio One because back then it was the best and has never ever been replaced? You can take my other post down 11/10/2012 if you wish because it's only speculation on my part about "An Unlikely Hero" Their is a lot more to this than meets the eye. It all seems so (settling old grudges)orchestrated. I look forward to your next blog, best wishes.

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    2. Philip, I don't think there is anything about settling grudges in this. What I think is happening is that for so many years people just felt they could say nothing, that making accusations about someone well known or in a position of power would get them no where and might actually make their life worse.

      With the Saville relevations, especially people grudgingly admitting that these maybe are not completely surprising, many people have just decided "oh, hell with it, I WILL say something."

      You can't blame them for that. And yes, it will "appear" orchestrated, simply because it all happens at once. But that is exactly what happens with anything. One person makes a move, and it opens the door for everyone else. That is not a bad thing.

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  22. I see your wish has been granted, Mike. A name has been named in the mainstream media.

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  23. Dear Mike, I would like your thoughts on the new media phenomenon "Twitter Deception" by media folk who buy twitter followers to make them selves look more popular than they really are. It's not breaking any rules, but it just gets right up my nose, do you really think @piersmorgan @richardpbacon @davina etc etc, are that popular. If you know what to look for, it's quite easy to spot who buys twitter followers.

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