Solution to a Problem that Didn’t Exist

BY ROGER WATSON

To the delight of Guardianistas, the viewing figures for Talk TV have plummeted and they seem to have done so by an order of magnitude from around 400,000 — when it was known as talkRADIO — to around 40,000. While I can confirm the figures for talkRADIO, I have not yet found similarly verified figures for Talk TV. However, regardless of the viewing figures, as a formerly avid listener to talkRADIO most often watching it live or the recordings on YouTube, to my mind Talk TV does not compare favourably.

Talk TV carries over one of the main problems that was apparent in talkRADIO. The frequent and prolonged advertising slots which seem to be mainly about self-advertising as they have precious little advertising of any commercial products. I encountered talkRADIO early in the first Covid lockdown and I seem to recall a great deal more advertising — presumably income generating — in those early days. The other problem is the too frequent news summaries which also drag on too long. These often detract from the main feature that is being programmed at the time and make it almost essential to wait until programmes have been broadcast and to watch the playback on YouTube where you can skip these empty interludes easily.

In addition to the scheduled programmes, talkRADIO also had some enjoyable features such as Plank of the Week where, along with one of the anchor men, Mike Graham, a couple of non-woke guests would skewer the woke and award them the said Plank of the Week. For the uninitiated, to give you a flavour of the programme, frequent recipients of the plank have been Harry and Megan, Sadiq Khan, Sir Keir Starmer and organisations such as the BBC, the NHS and the Metropolitan Police.

There was something slightly but endearingly amateur about the way these programmes and others in the same ilk were made. Also, these were not scheduled programmes but made separately from the main fare and broadcast solely on YouTube. They were of variable length, essentially taking as long as required to skewer the targets. Now Plank of the Week is scheduled and, as such, is only 30 minutes long. It is rushed, and the presenter Mike Graham seems constantly distracted by having to move things along. The programme, which I still catch on YouTube, is a shadow of its former self.

In the run up to the launch of Talk TV, the talkRADIO presenters ramped up the excitement, initially not revealing exactly what was happening other than ‘something’ to gradually explaining that talkRADIO was going to morph into Talk TV. All good, except they made a fatal error in the launch. To all intents and purposes, they took talkRADIO off the air for a few days as their new studios were being prepared. Programmes could still be heard on the talkRADIO app and on Dab 2 radio. But who wants to listen to Julia Hartley-Brewer when you can watch her live on YouTube? Not me.

Once I was unable to find the content on YouTube either live or recorded, I stopped listening. Moreover, the launch was delayed and when it became available as Talk TV on YouTube I had decided I could live without it.

The moral of this story: if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

Roger Watson is a Registered Nurse and Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Education in Practice.