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Beeb changing tune too soon?

OPINION: After Mark Pougatch’s departure from Sports Report, the BBC are apparently scrambling to be brighter, bolder and younger

16 January, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Mark Pougatch tweeted his farewell from BBC Radio Five Live’s seminal Sports Report

THERE was a sort of cruel irony to Mark Pougatch’s farewell tweet from BBC Radio Five Live’s seminal Saturday teatime bulletin Sports Report.

There he was, filming himself in his garden, wearing loafers. But he was not quite able to frame the camera properly, so we got a lot of grass and hedge but could hardly make out his face, which was blanched out by the sun anyway.

No filters, no crunching sound effects, no quick cuts, nada. There isn’t an insta-whats’appin’ tik-tokker in the world who would consider posting such low-grade optics.

But this, it has been suggested in several places this week, is what the BBC radio strategists are now looking for. People who can make things bleep and whiz as well as tell you the scores.

A lot of us feel fuzzy about the times when you left a football stadium and somebody would have a transistor radio that people crowded around to hear the rousing Out Of The Blue theme to Sports Report and find out the results from places like The Dell, Filbert Street and Roker Park.

In his sign-off, Pougers charmingly told how he had listened to the show as a child while his father cleaned his shoes.

But in doing so, he was underlining why the media is a hard industry to grow older in. The guys upstairs are aware that nobody is watching Pa clean his shoes while waiting to hear if The Rovers won any more. They are sending out missives of varying quality on Twitter before, during and after the match.

Those at Five Live who let Pougatch go are understandably are looking to tap into this frenzy of texting energy.

But in the rush to be brighter, bolder, and younger, I have only request for the BBC and others: Modernising doesn’t mean we require pantomime oafs chucking out incendiary burps in search of golden traffic. The format has to change with the times, of course, but simply aping the online bantz will be a race to an uninspiring bottom.

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