Danny Baker’s wonderful, heartfelt, on-air rant at being sacked from his Radio London show made great listening and rang a few personal bells. Baker is a superb broadcaster, a one-off, quick on his feet and deservedly applauded within the industry. He had a far higher profile than I ever had in the days when I was allowed to broadcast on the three national networks, Radios 2, 3 & 4. But he was given his marching orders in exactly the same way I was back in 1997.
Having won a Sony Gold Award the previous year, my radio career looked rosie and long term but within 12 months, for reasons I have never discovered and only been able to guess at, I was cast out of the arms of Auntie into the cold. Hey-ho, the freelance life, I told myself. Get over it, one door closes, another opens – all that. Except that I’ve never got over the way I was sacked by Radio 3. Radio 2 – well, there was a change of top man who just wanted media stars on his network, whether or not they knew how to use the radio and put programmes together. Radio 4 – I was told my voice was too posh (ludicrous) and my highly edited (and, if I may say, highly praised) in-house features were a thing of the past. I blame the then DG John ‘Blue Sky’ Birt, a ghastly man who ruined a great organistation. But that’s another story.
Radio 3, though, is another thing altogether. I had been doing some 70 broadcasts a year for the network, both live and pre-recorded. Everyone there gave me the impression that I did them rather well. Then there was a change of management and a woman called Cathy Someone was put in charge of us presenters. Within a matter of months, Natalie Wheen, Andrew Green and myself had all been given the elbow from our regular presenting slots on In Tune, a post that has been filled ever since by the loquacious Sean Rafferty.
And how was I told the news? I was summoned to Cathy Person’s office and handed the order of the boot while this woman walked round the office holding her new-born baby on her towelled shoulder, winding it with soft pats on the back. ‘Oh of course there will be other roles for you, Jeremy,’ she said soothingly between baby burps.
Since that day I have not had one letter, conversation or phone call – let alone an offer of work – from anyone in Radio 3. Neither any of the producers I worked with for so many years, nor anyone in management with whom I passed pleasantries, nor anyone else connected with the network has ever contacted me in any shape or form. Not even the juniors whose fledgling careers I did my best to promote when possible.
That’s the Beeb for you. Don’t expect explanations. And don’t expect loyalty or talent to count for too much when you work for them as a self-employed broadcaster with no means of redress or redundancy or (ha!) a pension.