BBC Coventry & Warwickshire: “Local radio is still important to people”

BBC COVENTRY and Warwickshire radio station is one of the main sources of local radio for Coventry and the surrounding areas.

The station gets, on average, 73,000 listeners, making that 11% of people in Coventry and Warwickshire that tune during the week. It accommodates to its local audiences, aged around 45+ who are, as described by Assistant Editor of the station, Duncan Jones as;

“…Naturally curious, proud and passionate about where they live, with a can-do attitude of life.” Writes Sophie Bray

Though, the station doesn’t shy away from the negative. Duncan continued to how they accommodate to the market’s demands;

“We don’t shy away from the negative. We talk and tackle local issues and provide people the information they need to debate any actions that happen locally. We have a responsibility for news and opening the audiences to new experiences. It’s a dual hybrid of concepts.”

However, before the move to today’s new state-of-the-art broadcast centre located in Priory precinct i; the BBC station faced some trouble. In 1995 BBC CWR faced closure due to the BBC’s Director-in-General, John Birt’s decision to make big cuts in local radio services due to financial constraints.

Facing closure, BBC CWR merged with neighbouring  BBC Radio WM. Later, its studios were relocated from Warwick Road to much smaller premises on Greyfriars Road with 2003 seeing the station re-labelled as BBC WM across Coventry and Warwickshire. In 2005, the station was moved to the new area and with that came the re-launch of the station of BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. It is now home to radio, local online, an interactive open centre and facilities for regional and local TV news.

Now, ten years down the line, the new studio has provided the station with a more localised and improved headquarters for both offices and broadcast studios.

Duncan Jones, who has been with BBC Coventry and Warwickshire since 2005, said however, that the move wasn’t all smooth sailing for the station’s audience.

“After we relocated the station, there was a degree of cynicism and ill-feeling around the BBC station because I think the audience felt a bit let down. We’ve worked hard to overcome that to become a respected part of the local community, as it’s a good source of local news and because of this, we enter into a companionship between the station and the audience.”

During his time at the station, Jones encountered differentiating local stories. He spoke of a few that came to mind.

“The unexploded bomb in Belgrade Plaza was a big local story. The closure of Peugeot also had an effect because it was another nail in the coffin for Coventry car industry. But there is warmth and spirit about Coventry and Warwickshire and it’s a great place to live and work.”

The BBC station has become an integral focus as a source for local news, entertainment and reconnecting with the community. Jones went on to comment on how important local radio is to the local audience.

“The station is a good source of local news and it’s produced by people who love the area. We come into our own from bad weather to the bomb in the Belgrade Plaza. Local radio is still important to people; they define themselves by the way they live. We passionately believe that speak the same language as the people out there by sharing the same worries, issues and information so that we can speak up for Coventry and Warwickshire. I’m proud of where we broadcast.”

The pride for Coventry is goes further than just the place where they broadcast for Duncan. The city is what makes it for him.

“The city is constantly reinventing itself. There’s some resilience about Coventry. It fights back; the community doesn’t want to be beaten. I’m so fond of working here and Coventry means so much to me.”

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