Roger Bolton is a veteran in the broadcast industry with over 50 years of experience and still going strong. After presenting BBC Radio 4’s weekly programme Feedback for 23 consistent years, Bolton was let go by the BBC in August 2022 with no clear explanation despite him wanting to continue the show. Less than a month later, Bolton launched his first-ever podcast Beeb Watch with his former BBC colleague and producer Kate Dixon, using the platform to observe and discuss issues within the BBC and public service broadcasting.
This week on PodPod, Bolton and Dixon joined presenter Rhianna Dhillon and Rethink Audio head Matt Hill in the studio to talk about Beeb Watch, the impact of the BBC’s financial squeeze on independents and freelancers, how podcasting allows them to talk more freely and gives room for opinion, why the BBC has failed to fulfil its duty to train young people, and why people should keep their eyes open about working at the broadcasting corporation.
You don’t always have to edit down
“What was lovely about doing that first podcast was the freedom of not doing Feedback anymore,” said Dixon. “We could talk to [Richard Eyre] about what he did in his past, as well as the recent coverage and what he thought could happen in the future.”
“Now, ordinarily, if we had done him for feedback, I would have hacked him down to something like 12 minutes, including listener comment. We were able to run that interview in full, 20-odd minutes or so, and then added to that, we did a little package just to get a flavour of what people thought.”
You have to balance opinion with fact
“The pair of us have been in the BBC for so long that impartiality goes through us like a stick of rock,” said Dixon. “Roger has more freedom to give his point of view more, and he does.”
“The danger with broadcasters is that they tend to avoid the issues,” added Bolton. “The danger with podcasters is that they go straight for opinion and there's a vast gap in the middle, which is information that should be given to people before they jump to opinions.”
Don’t go into podcasting for the money
“The range of debate and opinion in this country has been far too narrow, and podcasting has enabled a range of voices you wouldn't otherwise have heard, to be heard,” said Bolton. “Go in with your eyes open that this probably won't make you money but it is a way of widening and extending the debate in whatever area you are, and guaranteeing that we have a greater breadth of opinion being expressed than is usually expressed.”