BBC London 94.9 has not decided to axe Danny Baker’s popular, Sony Gold Award-winning show from its weekday afternoon schedules, according to the BBC – despite the presenter announcing this himself this morning. But the station does face a shake-up in the light of proposed BBC cuts.
Baker broke the “news” of his axing on Twitter: “So the BBC London afternoon show – current Sony Gold holder – is to be part of the Delivering Quality First cuts,” he wrote. “The logic of Genius.”
He added: “Nothing like having your show axed under an initiative called Delivering Quality First to let you know how valued you are. #CrapOutFirst.”
The Delivering Quality First proposals, which were announced yesterday, said that local radio stations should share more programming, especially on weekday afternoons. BBC London itself faces a budget cut of 25%. The culling of its best-known show would be a huge surprise – the DQF proposals document promises that local weekday afternoon programmes will remain separate if they “serve a particularly distinct audience”. But canning Baker is not an impossibility, it seems.
A BBC spokeswoman told RadioTimes.com: “As part of the proposed Delivering Quality First changes, BBC London will be sharing some programmes, but which programmes and who presents them is yet to decided. Danny hasn’t been told his show’s been axed, because it hasn’t been.”
Yet in answer to rumours that Baker and fellow presenter Robert Elms would have to compete for a new, amalgamated afternoon slot (Elms currently precedes Baker at 12-3pm), the spokeswoman added: “It’s likely that there’ll have to be schedule changes. It’s likely that there’ll be one afternoon programme, but who presents it is yet to be decided.” This new programme would be broadcast not just in London, but to other regional stations in the south-east.
Baker’s agent Alex Armitage, however, said this to RadioTimes.com: “Nobody has any idea. If they have, they haven’t told Danny, or me, or anyone I know. Take it with a big pinch of salt. Danny was joking – but now it’s all got a life of its own. Everything you read on Danny’s Twitter is supposed to be funny. The one thing I do know is that nobody knows what’s happening.”
Baker’s BBC London show, along with his Radio 5 Live broadcasts, earned him the title of speech radio personality of the year at the 2011 Sony Awards, the most prestigious awards show in British radio.
Within an hour of Baker’s announcement, fans had set up a Twitter account, @Savethecandyman, dedicated to campaigning for the retention of his show. So if Baker’s intention was simply to shore up support just in case BBC London are thinking of axing him, it seems to have worked.