So Ray’s off, after six years of alarm clocks, down the schedule, and the search is on for a new BBC Essex breakfast voice. We listened in.

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.

ray 2

WHO  Ray Clark

WHAT  BBC Essex Breakfast

WHEN  0723 Wednesday 30 November

We’re in Bradwell-on-Sea for that BBC Local Radio perennial, a live about a power station waste site. One campaigner called Brian is raising concerns about nuclear waste being transported ‘down a tortuous route’. Another, also called Brian, is from a group called BANG whose beef is that the nuclear decommissioning authority appears to have changed its mind about the transport of this waste. He talks about a ‘geological depository’ which I’m guessing is a hole in the ground. “You don’t want other people’s rubbish stored in your back yard?” is the final, obvious – but slightly mocking – question.

There’s a great bit at the end where Ray comes back in and tells the reporter to look, behind where you’re standing, at a crane. It’s what they used to move the rods when the power station was active. Maybe it’s a good job they never dismantled it, thinks Ray. He throws ahead to the fact he’s talking to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority later in the programme.

0730 NEWS Basildon rape enquiry/Essex typhoon victim/Essex PCC on crime stats/Government army rebellion/Weather

Ray back announces Sonia with the news and gets into Paul Hawkins, which sounds like it’s going to be the sport, but it’s a sports interview instead.

Co-author of ‘the recently published Essential Wisden anthology’. And this is as interesting as only two men talking about cricket ever can be. “Finally John, as ‘we’re a bit squeezed for time’ “ is a nasty bit of on-air production. Glad to hear there’s still time to reference the ‘recently-published’ anthology again off the back.

Ray comes in, “And you’ll come back for sport in a bit.”

0735 Travel “Alice has the road and rail news for our county.”

0736 Sport! Paul’s back again, with the bulletin this time.

ID: This is BBC Essex

Basildon rape appeal, a year on, with powerful audio of the victim. “We’ve been speaking to her – her words are spoken by an actor.” “I won’t go out drinking like a normal person, like a normal girl my age will … I’m too scared.”

Cut to an interview with a cop littered with cop-speak. He’s been ‘progressing inquiries, house to house’. The attacker is  30-40, white, normal build with a ‘foreign accent so he may have come from a surrounding area or a surrounding country’. Keen to identify ‘that male’ to prevent him from offending again. The victim doesn’t ‘reside in that area any more’. There’s a bizarre last question, “Just for people listening, can you describe the e-fit?” I’m not sure anyone was ever identified by a description of an e-fit being read to a witness, but hey.

Nice fill from Ray. “Had to scrape ice of the car this morning. There’s rain coming – ooh, looking at the window it’s here, in Chelmsford.” Riffs off a newspaper pic of a cow “or is it a bull, not getting close enough to find out” standing in the snow in Seaton Sluice. “Because bulls can’t get on a plane and go to Torreleminos – actually, maybe it should stay in Seaton Sluice, probably safer there.”

Heads again over a thin, wet bed. Into a GNS two-way about JP Morgan.

SUMMARY

There’s some slightly bizarre production going on. The positioning of the Ashes two way between heads and traffic before a wodge of sports bulletin feels odd – and the DCI didn’t add much to the rape interview. I think the reporter could have gone harder on the fact that seemingly despite loads of evidence, they’d got no nearer to catching the rapist twelve months on.

And whilst the lack of Ray being front-and-centre of all three stories in our 20 minute listen could be an accident of timing, it feels like the show was under-seasoned with his presence. Simply throwing in a question or two for the nuclear Brians, or by making the rape cop a live with him would have been a better balance. Also, much as I’m well versed in the whole idea of stranding a story like the nukes, it does mean if you’re a light listener, you only hear one perspective on a controversial story.

Ray will be a tough act to follow. His local cheeky-chappy persona is bang on brand for BBC LR, and even in this listen where no story is owned by him, his personality and Essex credentials comes through in the link work and interactions with his team.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

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