As one station quits Teesside, another gets two Sony nods – for breakfast show and station of the year.

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

Ali Brownlee

Ali Brownlee

WHO Ali Brownlee


WHEN Monday 15 April 2013


“Morning! Ali Brownlee with you on BBC Tees Breakfast, Monday morning 15 April, Just after five minutes now past seven o’clock. Let’s bring you the local travel now, with Dave Llewellyn, Good Morning Dave.

4 strong local traffic stories, all from the Tees TSA.

ID into bed: BBC Tees Breakfast with Ali Brownlee

“Coming up on breakfast,” (clip of cockney woman on benefits story.) “Trials of a benefit cap start today. We’ll have more.”

ID out of bed: “If you’re taking about it, we’re talking about it. BBC Tees.”

“BBC Tees breakfast on a bright Monday morning.” Busks weather a bit.

Today our top story is “Reflections on celebrating the re-lighting of Redcar’s blast furnace.” This had been mothballed for a year but re-opened, “A year ago we were outside the entrance of SSI. What difference has it made to people who work there, who rely on steel, to the general feeling of pride where we live?”

Into a terrific montage over Florence and the Machine’s You Got The Love – including the commentary “when you come to Middlesbrough and you see that skyline, that blast furnace is a thing of beauty. As long as it pumps, there is life on Teesside.”

Ali cues into a clip of the plant’s Chief Exec recorded phono clip, who says the second recession caught the steel world by surprise. In re-lighting, they’ve had fewer technical issues and more economic ones than they expected.

“What we decided to do here on breakfast is spend some time at SSI, all arranged by John baker at SSI. Big, big, thanks to John.” There’s lovely bit where Ali talks about how his dad worked in steel and he used to visit the works as a kid.

Clip with two workers in the furnace control room. “Claudia Robinson came with me to the site.” Why not you Ali? This sounds like a research chat that made it to air, an interrogation, not a conversation.

But then Ali fronts the next stuff himself and it’s so much better. Real enthusiasm, free flowing chat and great visual description – which is mirrored by the interviewees.

“I spent much of Friday meeting meeting people who make furnace work. I had a brilliant time! Fathers and grandfathers working in the steel industry passing down skills. He asks a control room engineer, “of all the buttons in here, what’s the most important one?”

I learnt that metal comes out 1,510 degrees. Ali describes the smell of the sulphur, and his impression of “the ultimate November 5th,with a giant sparkler over here.”

It gets a bit flabby again when Ali solicits the inevitable “Your thoughts, your reaction, steel making 12 months on, your reflections,” but there’s a good throw to Social Media with pictures of the location posted to Facebook.

Heads: Cleveland Potash jobs/Redcar anniversary/masters. “More coming up at 7.30,” whatever that means.

Trail: Mark Forrest asks some earnest questions over some library music.

Then we’re into a slightly random dry old clips sequence about the pilot cap on benefits in London.

We hear Haringey council leader, Scottish widows, an academic and a vox of Londoners. Even Ali sounds bored.

Travel. A67 closed at High Coniscliffe due to a landslide and ‘will be forever and a day by the looks of it.’

Weather, a slightly out of context BBC Tees sport tonight verbal trail.

Then un-surnamed Sarah arrives for that time-honoured breakfast filler, the paper review, after a little observational stuff about the arrival of Spring and the daffodils on the A66.


BBC LR loves its breakfast journeymen – the Warnetts, Cleggs and Murphys of this world have local credibility, warmth and, something uniquely bbclocalradio-ly. Ali is shaping up as one of these.

This show really comes alive when he’s lurking around the furnace like an excitable 12 year old on a school trip, with some lovely turns of phrase and a contagious enthusiasm for the subject. He made me interested in a steelworks at 7.10. Nice work.

Like much BBC LR, this breakfast menu comes with waffles. Look at the verbatim of the link off the news for example. If it was all a bit tighter, it would go beyond great to amazing. Warm and slick are not mutually exclusive.

We could argue whether anniversaries are real stories but hey, when it makes for content this good, who cares?

Odd to tease ahead to the least good part of the half hour (the benefits stuff) … and why bother trailing a needle waggling network show at 7pm? Surely the rest of the day is better worth promoting. The lacklustre station sound is doing nothing to help dramatise this great content, especially compared to the Music 4 stuff Tees had before.

But even from 20 minutes on an average-good day, you can spot the ingredients that meant this show is up for a Sony. And it’s a Geordie-free zone that drips localness. After the recent debate in this part of the world, that’s nice to hear.

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