(courtesy of

In this posting...
*Mike Parr

*Jason’s observations
*Person-Who-Makes-Your-Blood-Run-Cold of the Week
*Leroy’s observations
Now, read on, Macduff...

Just in case you’ve been wondering which Guardian article they were talking about in the comments to posting 182 - or you’ve tried to locate it and failed - here it is.

‘The floods in Cumbria and their aftermath may soon slip from the headlines, but not so on BBC Radio Cumbria where the story dominates the Mike Parr Breakfast Show. On Monday [24 November], Parr broadcast from a car park in Cockermouth, and invited those affected locally to come down and tell him about it. Yesterday, he was at Seaton Infants and Nursery school, and the weather was soggy again. "I'm very tempted to take refuge in the Wendy house," Parr quipped.

This is where local radio, often the butt of jokes and sneery comments, can shine. Parr's shows were on the ground, up-to-date and full of useful information. We heard about rubbish collections, the problems for local road travel...the school run, for example, has become a major undertaking for some parents cut off by bridge collapses...and how to access help for those left homeless. A very cheerful woman organised a team of volunteers in Cockermouth, delivering hot food around the town before daylight. Parr couldn't quite believe the vision in front of him: "People in high-visibility jackets wheeling supermarket trolleys full of soup and bacon butties."

There was also a chance for people to tell their stories about the flooding; its speed and cruelty. A local reporter recalled seeing "roads just turning to rivers before our eyes. A sense of complete panic." An impressively resilient local explained that he had just a couple of weeks ago established a community food store for emergencies. "We just didn't know what the emergency was going to be," he said. Sadly, the food store was flooded.

Parr's commentary revealed communities facing up to reality with the new week. "You could see the tears welling up in their eyes," Parr said, recalling an interview in Cockermouth. "A big bloke, a strapping bloke; he had to confront what happened." Life, though, goes on. As Parr happily confirmed: "Clog-dancing classes are on as usual in St Mary's community centre."’

So congratulations, Mike. It’s not often that local radio of any kind gets a whole column of praise to itself in a weighty national newspaper like The Guardian. And, as far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t have happened to a better - or more thoroughly professional - presenter than Mike Parr. In my days on the Blue Bus I had daily contact with Mike and his team; our programme followed his. Subsequently, of course, the contact was at ‘the other end’; on The Nightshift, his programme followed mine.

So I’ve enjoyed countless on-air encounters with Mike. And even more, of course, off-air. Mike was always a friendly and inspiring role-model for any presenter, especially one as inexperienced as as ‘wet behind the ears’ as I was (and tended to remain!). When I was on The Nightshift we met every morning, of course, bleary-eyed and barely awake at 0500 - but he always took the time to comment on items he had enjoyed whilst driving into work. Indeed, I would often have Mike in mind when I devised the items that would be broadcast after about 0430. By engaging his early-morning attention, interest and humour, I figured that I was likely to engage yours, as well.

Any new presenter could do a great deal worse than attempt to adopt Mike’s style and to acquire as many of Mike’s skills as possible. Unfortunately, no-one ever will, more’s the pity.

...will take place on at 1100 on Wednesday 23 December. Whoever wants to take a break from the pre-Christmas frenzy for an hour or so should attend at the foot of Grey’s Monument in Newcastle (or in the nearby Pret if it’s raining) where mutual succour will be on hand.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

A few postings ago I had the very great pleasure of welcoming truckshunter Jason (of Coldstream) to the fold. I think that the email he sent me a few days ago is worth reproducing in full here - without any comment from me.

‘Just re-attached to the world of the BBC and discovered you'd been given the push... Have to say that BBC Newcastle is a poorer place for all the changes in the past few years - gone from being a proper local station with local interest to being just another clone of Radio 2 without the slickness and quality - all started with the departure of Julia & Wappat minor and pushing you to the midnight slot. Whoever decided those changes clearly looked at the proposition he was shown, knew the price of everything and the value of nowt (a common theme in the UK sadly).

BBC Radio Scotland for me then for now - they still seem to have some local/regional/national pride!

Incidentally - had you thought about doing any podcasting - maybe of your favourite walks, churches etc - you could surely do as good a job as Neil Oliver is with his for Scotland - see - always thought a dream team for such a venture would be you and your less-attractive twin brother John Grundy...

Glad to hear that you're still about though and seemingly as mad as ever - had an amusing few hours reading your blog - seems you have something that you dislike about Lord Valdemort of Mandelsonia - in common with most of the population I'd hazard (apart from "Lucky" Gordon Brown of course - unless he's actually handed over his good eye as security to the aforementioned ennobled chancer in the hope of being re-elected).

Thanks for the compliments, Jason. And yes, the podcasting idea is a good one. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t where to start!

Peter Mandelson

Another email now - this time from Leroy.

'I've just been trawling the internet looking for tips n things about energy-saving lightbulbs, ( I really should get out more). Well it seems there are more horror stories about them than you could shake a stick at.......... (Hmmm! why would you want to shake a stick at them in the first place ?)........ .

According to the "Experts" if you break one you should leave the room for 15 minutes till the poison gas disperses........... then use rubber gloves sealed containers etc, then you have to treat them like toxic waste ........ sounds like 'save the planet but kill yourself whilst doing it'...

The best one though was a theory that the Powers That Be are making them compulsory because they have listening devices or spy cameras in them............
Just thought that I would share that with you.'

If any of that’s really true - rather than just internet ‘viral lies’ - then yes, Leroy, it’s very worrying indeed.

Post comments on this blog or email me:


Vivienne said...

Hi Ian,

Thanks for posting the Guardian's article about Mike Parr. Mike is a terrific loss at Radio Newcastle. The Breakfast Show isn't the same without him. I'm not surprised that Mike's doing a fantastic job with Radio Cumbria. Well done Mike. Keep up your good work.

That's an interesting email you posted from Leroy. I wonder if the information Leroy found is true?

Jason, I agree with you wholeheartedly. When I retired in August 2007 I was looking forward to listening to Julia Hankin during the afternoons. Within a few weeks Julia had left. Ian and Paul were a terrific partnership, and I was so sad to learn that Ian had disappeared to the Nightshift. At that time I thought that Ian and Paul must have fallen out with each other. Of course I know better now, and have enjoyed both Ian and Paul's company at a couple of The Truckshunters' AGM's. Their old magic is still very much alive, although sadly not at Radio Newcastle. All the best presenters are disappearing one by one. I'm afraid that I listen to Radio Newcastle very little now. Two years ago I was a complete fanatic!!!

Sid said...

Our house is full of those darned low energy bulbs, and so far we haven't had a knock at the door in the middle of the night. There again, I doubt if they would knock!
Trust me..If anyone was hauled away because they had made comments about the behaviour of the current government it would be me.
Next location for the agm...check the bulbs...

Hildie said...

Ummm, nice new wallpaper in here, you HAVE been a busy bee,Ian!

Jason .... you have expressed our Truckshunter thoughts about Radio Newcastle SO succinctly. Thanks so much - for telling it like it is!
As Vivienne has already said .... we saw Ian and Paul together last Thurday lunchtime and the old magic is still there.
It upsets us to this day that someone at the top could not see what a unique treasure Radio Newcastle had hold of. The North East is very much poorer because of the departure of Ian and Paul from the airwaves. Whenever I mention them , people look puzzled and say "Yeah, whatever happened to those two? They were brilliant together." Radio Newcastle listeners do miss them and remain mystified as to why they disappeared. I know it's all water under the bridge now ... but sometimes it's good to get it all out ... hope you forgive me! It was a travesty!! Nobody asked me if I would mind if they went! Nobody asked any Radio Newcastle listener! Anyway, I'm no longer one of those!
Remote co-presenting ...... no other radio station does it ... it's extremely difficult .... Radio Newcastle was leading the field!!
And, they just let it go.

Maureen said...

And so say all of us! Ian a podcast is a brilliant idea! We could download them and listen to them on our MP3s and Ipods through the night. Now isn't that where you came in? I've actually figured out how to download podcasts, such as plays and stories just so I have something to listen to during the night, to have the real thing again would be wonderful!
Postscript to low energy bulbs, did you know that when you are finished with them, you shouldn't put them with your normal refuse but you should call the coucil to collect it for correct disposal. Now how energy efficent is that?
As Ian would say, what a load of dingo's kidneys!

Ian Robinson said...

Just a gentle reminder...Paul hasn't left the airwaves!!! I'm delighted to say that he is still just as enthralling and maddening as ever - on Smooth Radio (97.5 and 107.7 FM)

Sid said...

A case of 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'...
On Deal or No Deal yesterday, a woman was left with two amounts of money. One box contained £250,000 the other 1p. Despite an offer to take £88,000 and walk away, the lady declined. She had her box opened.....and she'd won 1p.

Marion said...

Hi everyone! I meant to leave a message last week but was only reminded yesterday when listening to 'Brain of Britain' on the car radio. Last week's listeners' questions were set by 'Inge from Arkansas who listens on the internet'- just wondered if it was the same one?? She won book tokens - I wonder if they accept them in US shops?
Best wishes

Ian Robinson said...

Yes Marion that must be OUR Inga, of blessed memory and whom God preserve. After all, there can't possibly be TWO Ingas in Arkansas, can there? Can there??

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks,

Yes it is our Inga. She sent me an email to ask if I would like her Brain of Britain book tokens, as they couldn't be sent to the USA. Inga is another who rarely listens to Radio Newcastle anymore.

Maureen said...

Do you know? I heard that and thought, could it possibly be... Nice to hear that Inga is still listening to British Radio. I wonder if she listens to Geoff Barker on Radio Devon? I remember that she used to listen to Radio Devon before, I bet she bops around her workshop during his Rock'n Roll Party!Please pass on my best wishes Vivienne.

Vivienne said...

Hi Maureen,

I'll pass on your best wishes to Inga. I think she stills searches around the British radio stations for some worthwhile programmes.

Ian Robinson said...

So why doesn't she follow this blog, then????