Suffolk: DJ’s sadness as Radio Suffolk country music show axed
A COUNTRY music DJ has told of his disappointment that his popular show on BBC Radio Suffolk is being axed after 21 years.
Brian Mann’s Suffolk Country show will finish at the end of March and be replaced by a syndicated country music programme from Essex.
The 64-year-old from Ipswich has presented the programme since the station launched in 1990 and last night said he was saddened that it was coming to an end.
“I’m very disappointed. They have decided to network the programme – I guess it is a cost-cutting exercise,” he said.
“I still enjoy presenting the show and I’m very keen to carry on.
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“I feel as though it’s a backwards step for the BBC but they will do as they see fit.”
Mr Mann said it was announced in country music magazines at the start of the year that BBC Radio Essex presenter Steve Cherelle would be hosting a syndicated country show across East Anglia – news that was confirmed by bosses at the end of January.
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The show currently airs between 4pm and 6pm on Sundays but at the height of its popularity took up two-hour slots on both Saturday and Sunday.
“There had been some talk last year about it possibly being networked but my contract was renewed into this year. I didn’t really know what was happening,” he said.
“When it was confirmed the show was being networked, I offered to do a show on Thursday night but that was rejected, and that was it. I don’t think many of the listeners know yet.”
Mr Mann, who was born in Hollesley and went to school in Woodbridge, added: “You don’t cut a programme which is successful – it has higher ratings than many weekday programmes.
“I will miss it. There is still a big call for country music in Suffolk and a lot of history attached to it and it will be a pity to lose that service.
“The music required in Suffolk is different. In Essex and London it’s more upbeat music while Suffolk and Norfolk like more traditional music and Irish music – that’s why you see such long queues for Daniel O’Donnell.
“I’m old-fashioned but I try to keep up-to-date.”
Tim Albins, chairman of the Ipswich Country and Western Club, said: “I was amazed [when I heard the news] – there’s always been country music on the local radio station here in Suffolk.
“I just feel the same service cannot be offered by a service from Essex. This chap in Essex cannot have the knowledge of Suffolk that Brian has.”
BBC local radio programming is coming under increasing cost pressure and there are examples across the country of programmes being syndicated regionally.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Brian’s been a big part of BBC Radio Suffolk for many years and he will continue to present special programmes through the year.
“This was a difficult decision to make but in the end we have to ensure we deliver the best value for money for licence fee payers.
“Steve Cherelle already broadcasts to three other radio stations in our region on a Sunday afternoon and he has a proven track record of presenting and working within the country music community. He will continue to provide local gig and event information for Suffolk.”
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