BBC Radio Wales faced huge scrutiny over the changes to its morning schedule in May.
Llanelli AM, Lee Waters, argued at the time that the new breakfast show changes would mean there would be “no serious news programme” at breakfast time.
Radio Cymru is now making its own amendments to an established running order and may yet face (as should be expected from a public broadcaster) some questions over why changes are being made.
They announced yesterday that they were scrapping Garry Owen’s longstanding Taro’r Post and replacing it with Dros Ginio, or “Over Lunch”, from 12pm to 2pm weekday slot in November.
— BBC Cymru Fyw (@BBCCymruFyw) September 11, 2019
This is billed as the usual stuff from BBC editors – covering subjects “important to the people of Wales” et cetera, et cetera.
So far, not so much controversy.
And there’s nothing wrong with amending your editorial or creative direction and making big decisions for your station; but Taro’r Post, aside from being one hour shorter than the proposed new programme, seems to tick all the boxes for what this new programme is striving to do.
I have had the good fortune of being asked to speak on the programme over the years, most recently last week, and it goes without saying that the team and Garry are consummate professionals who are good at what they do.
He is a recognised Welsh journalist, even regularly contributing to “From our home correspondent” on Radio Four, and that makes it harder to see how four new presenters – Dewi Llwyd, Jennifer Jones, Vaughan Roderick and Catrin Haf Jones – can establish the rapport that is needed with an audience during lunchtime.
The response to the news has been great sadness for the end of Taro’r Post, but not much huge excitement for the sudden change. Garry will continue to be a part of the news team, but it is unclear whether a shift in direction – and pace – at lunchtime seems to be the right move for Radio Cymru.
After all, the history of BBC radio’s lunchtime shows reflects that people want news but also a conversation – to get involved and share their views with someone they recognise. Historically, this trend can be traced back to the inception of “The Week in Westminster”, which started as a radio programme for women who had just been enfranchised and delivered by women MPs in the 1920s.
Hilda Matheson, the corporation’s first director of talks, recognised at that time you could bring people as close as possible to events. This is the spirit in which Taro’r Post, and other programmes across the BBC network, such as “The Emma Barnett Show”, have guided their discussion of news and events around the world.
So, the way I see it is that Taro’r Post is a loss to the schedule; it serves as a break between the hectic news coverage of the breakfast hour whilst also continuing the conversation for the evening drive home. It’s what we need at lunchtime.
Dros Ginio, of course, has the journalists to be a huge success. Everyone wishes them well
But, as the BBC welcomes their new programme, they may find that their radio audience – which values familiarity, regularity and engagement – will not always be there to listen.
Theo Davies-Lewis is a communications professional from Llanelli and a regular contributor to Taro’r Post.