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Read this: 24/07/2020 Radio 4 Feedback

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24/07/2020 Radio 4 Feedback…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts this week a gentle morning for The Corporation from the outgoing editor of The today anything about BBC I would say having observed it as an outsider probably the three years is there is a great impulse towards such as social cohesion and sometimes.

I think it would be unkind to hear certain fuse I'll be talking to Sarah Sands about her three years on the bridge of the BBC's battleship or was it a Destroyer detox ruefully about one of the roles she got into in the endless probably influenced me most out of your comfort zone feature really uncomfortable this week the program a review describes a very tough existence in the Australian Outback needs a proper hard people and

You got that in the program.

This is not an easy life.

What they do and work very hard very very hard to find out a little later in this edition of feedback.

When Saracens became editor of the Today programme two general elections and 3 years ago John Humphrys was it's main presenter and female presenters were paid much less than their male counterparts Theresa May was the new and relatively popular Prime Minister brexit negotiations were in their infancy and no one had heard of covid-19 so she hasn't been exactly step 4 stories this sounds give up her editorship of the London Evening Standard and accepted a drop-in salary to get a very very early in the mornings as she stands down that hardly anyone left in the to the office of broadcasting from home which is where this and has been doing her editing.

I talk to her about those too much as three years and began by asking what were ambitions for the program to get over what does she want to do? What did she want to change in the way? It is interesting that it should have ended with coving what I really wanted was it to be a

Things and always the listener the many millions of listeners, but the one I guess I always had in mind with David Blunkett because of how he describes.

What was in the home service and what it meant to him that it was his education because he was a blind man with lots of help that now is available so it was everything time to listen and to be able to learn and so always I thought at the end of each program.

You know what have we learnt and actually some of the frustrations.

I know there's some listeners.

I have also shared that is it enough about illumination and that sometimes about adversity without illumination and so I think ending up with the sort of I hope civil but rigorous scrutiny of what's going on but then the sheer joy of just talking to scientists as they are discovering something they didn't know about and starting to learn about has been to me the greatest.

Privilege of a journalism what does Sarah Sands think was the best and the worst decision she made during her tenure and why at Leicester the easy bit first the best decision decision? I think I remember when I first started saying we seem very good at covering the world and that was very important to me and I did more I think foreign news, but did we understand our own country in the bath and I think just getting the program in physically out of the studio geographically actually you know one regret.

I had about coded with that you know I did I did have an ambition to co-present from the North and to the United Kingdom view so that was right we did get out a lot and I think therefore phone new voices and it wasn't quite you know there was a little bit.

Metropolitan Nexus of politicians and journalists talking to each other and I really wanted to break through that and I think we did the worst decision.

I think the worse isn't well.

Thankfully, probably that I was never able to carry it out when I first arrived.

I thought we thought for the day you know it needs to be reformed.

It needs to go and why not have you know a clever little slot tomorrow philosophy or something completely different and then learnt actually you know what that little Oasis can mean two people and actually as it happens as I leave I'm going off to write a book about me for covid do people suddenly were thinking about meaning and so actually at its best thought for the day came up with some cracking thoughts about the Way We Live we shot when you came to today to find out.

Women presenters were not paid as much as male presenters for doing the same job, but yes it was and actually that was another thing that I'm I'm pleased that we resolved by the end.

I think we rather do model on payment that the presenters are all equal.

I have to say it was a bit of a strange exchange that I had with the then presenter John Humphrys who was by father of saying you know you're paid too much and and he agreed and was surprised at the BBC have paid him quite so much and gave it back very willingly without any sort of argument, so what's the easiest pain that goes ahead but certainly it was shopping list with their well, let's get on with some questions from our listeners and of course at the heart of today is the political interview Jeff Matthew I put it to Sarah than recent years Today programme political interviews of turned into a sad freak show interruption after interruption lace with a menacing era of confrontation.

Almost unlistenable outcome and there's a real sense of the baiting has become vastly more important than the content was Project interrupt a deliberate program policy or mini the start of the presenters if it was programmed policy, is it something that Sarah would repeat and it was personal preference consumer tell us why it was allowed to continue to was projected.

What is Jeff Matthew calls it a deliberate policy.

No, it's not a deliberate policy and in fact.

It shows that such a failure of an interview.

If one has to interrupt ideally you'd want to put on this course where you know the questions are civil and rigorous and the replies are absolutely such as clear and insightful to several things are happening with an interruption either.

It's just we need to keep the questions and answers on track there's too much to aggression and that the listener isn't learning everything that they should be so it's a set of service to listeners or it's sometime.

Politician who is deliberately avoiding an answer, but it also can sometimes seem to be impatient some of the importance of interviews instead of trying to find out things that are politicians and experts some time to develop their views do sometimes have to go in and say to a presenter after a break down slow down drawback give the person a chance to say something.

I think we do always have to look at what the purpose of the interruption.

What is and certainly if it feels hasty or aggressive.

I don't like it.

I think the only time that it's justifiable bringing back someone to the subject or is he say it is a report to a politician who is deliberately avoiding an answer, but those are the only two reasons you know other than that.

I think it's a pity and I think if I have a fault in this probably I think more at the beginning.

I hope there's something that I've learnt was that I think I was so excited by how much we could.

On the program that I probably packed it too much about tonight and I think there was one interview.

I remember which lasted about 3 minutes on the dawn of the Cosmos that wasn't given enough time so I think some of this is just letting things run more but I think there is a set of Westminster style that you have to watch you know which is that you're all geared up for and it's a bit of a game so then you can see that it's running on adrenaline rather than reasoning above all I wanted the Today programme to be a forum for a reason so I'm sympathetic to that for you and I apologise if that happened to me what a program has been criticized by some notably by sammy number 10 for being the voice of Metropolitan liberal consensus, you obviously thought that was true to the Metropolitan element because you have you tried to take the program more out the regions and would have done more but for covert how about the Liberal consensus at a good means that you know certain voices aren't heard enough.

Outside that liberal consensus, do you think that's a fair criticism one thing? I really minded about his free speech.

It was one reason actually did quite a few broadcast from universe because I wanted to tackle it there in to challenge it and certainly notable that I've put on guess who have perhaps supporters of President Trump of lightning characters people get over troubled on on Twitter so I think you know I've seen the criticisms that have on both sides.

I think the only thing about BBC I would say you know having observed it as an outsider probably 3 years is there is a great impulse towards such as social cohesion and sometimes it means that they think it would be unkind to hear such a certain fuse and I think that's something you know that I think about about how you genuinely allowed to free speech in a civil war was there a lot of things you have in common with previous editors of the Today programme is that you're not there.

I haven't been as popular person in number 10 Downing Street indeed you describe the government behaviour and boycotting the program has trumpian on our program Last December when you look back on that could be avoided that conflict the description of something with a matter of fact it was how it was described to me by a supporter of the Redeemer statue figure within so it was an early Intervention of the government to challenge what they saw as the Monopoly of the BBC and the Today programme was an obvious territory because you know it's the flagship.

So I've never actually took it personally should be less sensitive than that people have this all the time in Germany is it happens to be the BBC this time BBC should be a bit more robust about I certainly didn't feel particularly distressed buy it.

I just thought well so what?

And actually as it happened it turned out rather well.

That was a bit of dividend to the boycott of the Today programme which was that we started to work more creative bring another which is actually something.

I always wanted to do from the beginning what that's something that penny mountain Dorset ginger.

She enjoyed the boy got his what you have to say BBC Radio 4 Today programme is infinitely more interesting at the moment with more time to hear real experts in their field rather than Cabinet ministers the experience of listening to and understand the issues has been made more valuable and enjoyable I also get the impression that the Radio 4 Today team are having to work harder themselves rather than depending on the political sparring.

Can I take it that last one? Did you have to work hard and did you enjoy the results of things are true? We had to work a lot harder so we thought ok? Let's look again at the start of.

Do you know that so if it were that easy slots I got and so you don't have a politician at 8:10.

So who will you have and so we started to look for the globally we looked in other Fields which was more expert on everything that I wanted for the program for it to be too intelligent for a reason started the main thing.

I'm naturally a bit of a lightning rod.

So you should have used to hearing from people you know when they're cross but suddenly you know there was this new Harmony and lots of emailing for no other reason and see how much they were enjoying it was rather wonderful period came to an end as follow on that list of Tony Bennett or that questions weather today has really been setting the agenda.

Why does today tend to follow the rest of the media when?

Which news items will dominate the programme The coronavirus in the endless repetition of relatively minor service users a case in point the consequence is that the program let's face the properly cover much greater threats such as climate change is a story that you were at the forefront of and which you pushed onto the main agenda.

Are you almost obliged on the Today programme to follow an agenda? Set by others particularly politician.

I will say that the agenda certainly of the day and the following day.

If you look what's in the media elsewhere the following day.

You'll notice the reflection of where we fled.

It's a very new program and that tends to mean that the sort of immediacy to climate change actually we did do some big.

Is it worth of event broadcasts as we did one from Antarctica and The Arctic and I'm sorry about this year actually is that?

More on biodiversity and such a big production broadcast which is how we can really should I bring attention and use the structure.

We have we don't have an investigative unit sadly you can't be such a selectable campaigning in the way that some other programs to adjust to big.

It's just a huge production every day, but there are certainly stories that I think that we've LED on and you don't come covered in spotting the shortage of PPE in hospitals, but I think principally the way that the Today programme works and wet setup is enough to cover the world the best it can eat everything you need to know this is some Alice's again would say and they said with the relationship to the cats in local radio and regional journalism that the BBC is pushing forward that you take that you put against the background of the collapse of commercial of the radio and a lot of local newspapers that we are losing the ability to report our country if we're not careful in some ways we report the world better than report.

And you locked in the machine of London with your resources, cut it's very difficult for you to do that isn't it? I think it is you know you're right.

It's concern and I think it's something that as long as everyone is aware of and knows that that's what we need to try harder to find people need to be attentive to that well at least wild wonders whether you have sufficient journalistic vigour on the Today programme.

Are you being disturbed by today's rapid descent into blame culture and printing lamination of loss.

It is the editorial team choose not conceived the Enormous depth as a threat facing us as a nation and the unified corporate response demanded entertainment and shallow political nitpicking over the need to inform and educate.

I suppose what comes out of that is the feeling somehow that was too much reliance on personal tragedy rather.

Journalist analysis and they thought the different sample you have the presenter of more or less on your program with his ability to analyse statistics humour and a better job has been absolutely agree about that.

I think we have had a lot of data and the ability to seek it elsewhere and actually is interesting because in other people have said the opposite.

You know that actually we do too much water analysis too much economy too much.

So I think it is a subjective thing.

I think this is living history and the human stories are part of that and you know much as I should have concentrated on the science.

You know I may get some of these stories will live on and it literally so one of the little codesa is that I commissioned a people's personal experiences of coded was by the playwright David Hare and I've just heard today.

He's made it into a full-length play trying to work out.

What this all means you know that was when covered first started.

It was one of the stories.

They said you know it's brilliant to be here now, but actually we won't understand what happened till Friday I've left the program.

So that sense of looking back.

What was it? You know what really happened some of those the Testament is are part of that so I do believe in destiny.

I just think you'll also need you know the analysis that goes with it myself.

I did a few programs, but I would have loved to enter the Today programme and I can't imagine why after 3 years you want to leave I mean in the midst of the most fascinating rearrangement if you like the world your stepping down.

Why it is absolutely the best in the world and I've loved if you had done it.

You would find secrets inside it is quite good and I think I've noticed that.

And actually having a witness.

Do you know this extraordinary period and grapes had the privilege to be part of it? I do have a suit of ambition to go out and apart from I think think about how we rebuild the economy and so I have some bits idea, so should be honest it now so actually wanting to do something rather than witness some people suggested that could cause the fact that the next day to your successor over Today programme will have rather less autonomy than you had and not to say less resources was that an element in your decision that you have new actually I want to do more and I would actually face trying to do more with less the BBC absolutely understands the same program is the new flagship when going to the Den head of news James Harding said just to make it clear that a program is the very last program that will go everything else everything else goes before the Today programme so that they

Thank you for listening as you can have them in vase across the room and you haven't dropped it is the other thing that you said to me with that.

You're really only real powers to destroy the successful at I hope you have a very relaxed quiet time the Monastery with plenty of time for sleep.

Thank you very much.

Thanks to Sarah Sands editor of the Today programme and please do let us know your thoughts about that interview and of course anything to do with BBC Radio this is how you can get in touch you can send an email to feedback or write a letter to the address is feedback PO Box 67234 London se1p 4ax you can follow activity on Twitter by using at BBC R4 feedback or you can call us and leave a phone message on 03345.

Standard landline charges apply but it could cost more on some mobile networks all these details are on our website each week.

We're asking to BBC Radio listeners to step out of their comfort zone's and listen to a program that would normally be on their Radar and this week.

We have Jessica from London and gym Streatham from Kirkby-in-Ashfield Nottinghamshire to get the sense of your tastes or usual taste Jessie what would be your top 2 programmes if you were stranded on that mythical desert Island shoes Desert Island Discs the Unbelievable Truth and The Listening Project and Broadcasting House the Unbelievable Truth Like Jesse and the like all the drama output from the BBC particularly curious under the stars series of on your farm on Radio 4.

Describe this program and explain what it is bad because it wasn't about Britain forced know this is Anna Jones visiting a outback farm in Queensland Australia and he was there to see how they muster all these thousands of cattle over a vast area of the Outback did it did it was quite interesting to hear the scale of the operation and the size of the area that they were covering.

I think it was 44000 acres and the noise of the cattle which obviously was all in one place was cacophonous and it was really interesting to hear that some of these farms are up to 8 hours drive from a big town.

So I haven't really appreciated.

How cut off they could be fascinated by the fact that when they start a round of the kettle cost to use a plane to spot motorbikes quad bikes pickups and an aeroplane.


It was quite a big operation and of course.

Programs, but she had to do it all on her own which is no producer dinner and recording Jessie did you think she did it well? I did I thought she came across as very warm very genuine.

She had good knowledge of Farming she got stuck in with the work.

I really like the chats with the family.

They obviously got on well.

She was very inquisitive even though she knows about Farm didn't come across as a know-it-all she was interested in what they had to say.

I'm trying to show that you really liked the pace and energy and enthusiasm of Anna Jones and it was just so lively and reinvigorating it really true you in and the waves produced in terms of the animal noises and her conversations with the Farmers they're very very very pleased and very engaging.

Capel stations with employed dozens and dozens of people with permanent people hear that that's the family weather wasn't too difficult issues that were raised not least the way in which Australian farmers castrate some of the ankles and it was she made the case that in the UK after 14-days.

I think you would not be allowed to castrate animals in the way they do in Australia without any form of anaesthetic, so she had to raise that issue.

It was not an investigation so much it was an account.

Do you think she manage that well? I think she did that with great sensitivity and she really stressed it was for the safety.

Of the farm workers and for the Comfort of the animals themselves and she did say the saving grace was this castration the removal of the Horns and the Hot she said it was all done in one operation is incredibly fast time so she was very sensitive to that and she did stress whilst it may sound severe to us.

It was done with the I thought she handled it.


I like the fact that there was no judgement about it was all very matter-of-fact because obviously she knows that these things happen in farming even if it's different in Australia to have it would be here also very honest about the fact once you're past childbearing as it were if you're a car.

That's it off you go if you had tidy your off.

It was no punches pulled Jessie yeah.

I agree.

It's just another one of those inevitable consequences of farming and it was just reported in a very matter-of-fact way, this is how it is.

We weren't there to judge who just died.

Listen to how it works story as well towards the end of this particular episode was the way in which technology was making an impact even on the massive Australian well, I wasn't expecting that at all.

It came as a complete and very pleasant surprise looking forward and looking outwards and using internet in the way they were Harnessing technology.

It was very well, but I think which I suppose interested me honest most was the guy who's in charge of this digital Revolution that was happening was tempted at one stage to Silicon Valley and ultimately rejected it to come back to this extraordinary Lonely Place Where if you don't get on with your family because that's him to talk to unless it is another world.

Jessie isn't it is and I would like to hear more from him.

I think he made him one of the grandsons William and he obviously studied electrical engineering or something and

Become an inventor and I'd like to have known whether that was his ultimate goal to go and study and bring it back to the family farm or whether something changed along the way but I thought it was really good that they talked about the phone was changing and the internet coming in the future, because I think it made it quite a well-rounded program.

So we had a little bit of history.

We had present day and then we were looking forward to the future ask you being put out of your comfort zone and I think I know the answer in this case where you had to be confident absolutely not I can't wait for next Sunday morning.

I'll be up bright and early and waiting for episode 2, will you be up that early Chelsea I don't think I'll be listening live but I certainly would listen to The Next Episode on catch up from London and Jim Stretton from Kirkby-in-Ashfield Nottinghamshire and do let us know if you would like to be put out of your comfort zone.

And that's it for this week next week.

We'll be talking to Julia McKenzie head of radio comedy for BBC Studios which produces amongst many other shows dead ringers and the BBC Radio 4 comedy festival, how is she coping with covert and how much is she missing the studio audiences lots of our listeners are do let us know which questions you would like to put to her until next week keep safe keep separate to buy.

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