James Cridland

BBC Local Radio's incredibly poor management style is shameful

BBC Local Radio’s changes seem horrible to watch from overseas.

David Lloyd wrote about the funeral for BBC Local Radio, calling it “little short of scandalous”. He listens to a poor interview as a senior manager tries to defend the cuts on the runner-up-award-winning BBC Radio 4 Today; and another on Feedback. He looks into how the BBC can execute its new local radio plan; and wonders - rightly - where Ofcom is with all of this. And he looks at the poor online offerings currently being presented as an alternative.

It seems the incompetence isn’t just in the plans: but in the awful, dreadful execution by the BBC’s HR teams and by management.

A side note: I should probably declare an interest here: I was the subject of constructive dismissal at the BBC in 2009 - bullied and obstructed while doing my job, set up to fail, and forced into resigning from a corporation I was initially so proud to work for. After finding some, my lawyers threatened the BBC with legal action, and rather than me taking them to court, the BBC settled for a decent financial sum, along with a gagging order that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about their awful HR department. It’s now fourteen years later, so I don’t suppose anyone there will care if I now willingly break the terms of that agreement in this paragraph. I’ve never worked for any company with a worse disregard for their people than the BBC; and it left me in a pretty poor state for some years.

With the above in mind - Nicky Horne has been collating some examples of the BBC’s awful way of treating their people in BBC Local Radio, likening it to “Hunger Games” treatment. Some examples:

Some staff at one station have been told, “When we said last week that all journalists now not at risk, sorry that was a mistake and you’re still at risk at this station”. Incompetence meets cruelty. source

I’m told by successful presenters in BBC LR that even if you’re successful your show will be under “constant review” and you could be moved off it at any point. So presenters will go on air daily in constant fear for their job. source

The BBC CareersHub website was shut in mid-April. “They’re shutting down the BBC careers site and deleting our profiles while we’re all looking for new work! You could not make this up!” source

“We were given 60 seconds to save our career and had to treat it like a speed date. We were timed with the stop watch but not shown the clock. It all felt so degrading, I was timed as 2 seconds out. It’s honestly been worst 6 months of my career” source

“I used to work in ILR (GWR, Capital, GCAP) and have never known a situation that’s been so badly handled by so many supposedly experienced managers who’ve managed to demonstrate a complete lack of management skill” source

“I’ve given my working life to BBC and always felt valued.But in a 10 min Zoom I’ve been made to feel completely worthless and irrelevant.I was called a short time before I was on air and was expected to continue as normal.I was in pieces” source

A senior manager said to one old hand “We’ll let you know after Easter if you still have a job, so you have a week to find Jesus” and then laughed. source

There are plenty more. Rejection letters from BBC HR haven’t even bothered to complete the contact details.

The announcements of great people leaving are all over the BBC - Anna King, after 37 years, Jonathan Cowap, after 34 years, David Burns, after more than 20 years, almost the entire BBC Radio Bristol line-up. David Fitzgerald at BBC Radio Devon, who was told he was being made redundant, then told to go on-air as if nothing had happened, suffered a heart issue. Carl Wheatley blogged about what he’s heard at his former local station; Private Eye has written about it. Meanwhile BBC Local Radio journalists are to go on strike again.

This is no way for any employer to behave. Shame.