Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Politics

On passing the buck – the BBC and the banks

I had intended to blog about this last week, but now I’m glad I didn’t, as the BBC’s announcement today of swingeing cuts puts what I have to say into even better perspective.

Let me start with the banks, though. It is no secret to those who know me that I was let down very badly, at the last moment, to a mortgage lender owned by a bank. All the complaint letters I sent to senior management of that bank were pushed down the food chain to flunkeys to answer. I didn’t receive one single letter of acknowledgement signed by a senior executive. That’s passing the buck – and the matter is now with the Financial Ombudsman, so I can say no more about it, except that it stinks. Men on bonuses paid by tax payers regarding themselves as above normal people like me.

So let me move, seamlessly almost, on to the BBC. When I heard that Jonathan Ross was not going to negotiate a renewal of his double-digit million contract with the BBC for making three shows (two TV, one radio show), I thought I would write to Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC (who has today personally announced the cuts which will affect the amount of new music played on BBC Radio, and which will reduce the amount of ethnic music played on the BBC), to offer my services as a replacement for Jonathan Ross on the Saturday morning radio show. Here’s a copy of that letter:

Dear Mr Thompson,

Following Jonathan Ross’s decision not to renew his contract with you, which expires in July, you will be looking for a replacement for his Saturday morning show on Radio 2.

I would like to suggest myself, for a number of reasons:

• I think the public is tired of celebrity nepotism, and would like new talent to appear on the radio and television.
• I think the public wants mainly music, not inane chat and call-ins, on national music radio at the weekend.
• I have a distinctive voice and a catholic taste in music, always favouring the new and innovative, whilst embracing the past.
• I would be much cheaper than Mr Ross, and much less likely to cause public offence; I’d probably be more popular, too.

I am a regular presenter with Radio Stradbroke, and I believe hiring me to do the Saturday show which Mr Ross currently presents, would significantly combat current negative attitudes to the BBC, especially viz exorbitant presenters’ salaries and quality of output.

I have enclosed a CD with an mp3 file of me presenting an August bank holiday special on Radio Stradbroke. If you wish to find out more about me, my web site is, and you can follow me on twitter @tettig.

I would like to make it clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that I am not looking for full-time employment with the BBC. I am very happily employed at the moment, and would not change my current job for love nor money. I am offering my services, as a private person, to the BBC for the purposes of presenting the above-mentioned radio show for an annual fee of £30,000.

I very much look forward to hearing from you.

I sent that on 4th Feb, and on 24th Feb, I got the following letter (and I quote it verbatim):

Dear Richard

Thanks for your letter regarding BBC Radio 2.

I understand you are keen to become a BBC presenter and feel that the position that Jonathan Ross will soon be leaving on BBC Radio 2, would be ideal.

I would like to advise you to call the BBC Career Information on: 0870…

I wish you all the best with your presenting career and thanks again for taking an interest in the BBC and for taking the time to write.

Yours sincerely

Cxxxxx Sxxxxx
BBC Information

Now, apart from the grammatical and punctuation errors in the letter, and the fact that the number supplied doesn’t work, what irritates me about this? Doesn’t Mark Thompson have a secretary who can get his signature on letters? Should a man earning almost a million a year have time to at least be seen to be personally responding to letters? Should a man who is contemplating and implementing massive cuts at the BBC, and who is about to state that one of the BBC’s priorities is “inspiring knowledge, music and culture, consider directly an offer to present, at a miniscule fraction of current expense, a prime-time Saturday morning show, and respond to it after having listened to the CD sent to him? Or should such a highly-paid operative (paid, by the way, by tax-payers money, a bit like the bank mentioned at the beginning), just pass the buck to a flunkey with an uncertain grasp of the English language? You tell me.

By the way, you can listen to the CD I sent to Thompson on

And I’ve started a group on facebook, if you want to become a member, which, simply put, says I ought to replace Ross.

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  1. Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist!

    2nd March 2010 at 22:50

    I agree, the public is sick and tired of seeing the same overpaid, overrated, overexposed celebrities on TV over and over.

    It would have been nice if those dicks had taken the time to check your radio works out. I hate standard form rejection letters.


  2. rps

    2nd March 2010 at 22:55


    You are such a wonderful friend. It's quite ironic that a deaf person should be the first to comment on a blog about the radio 🙂 You should live in England. The culture here would be so much more appreciative of you. You should be a star already.


  3. PDAllen

    3rd March 2010 at 00:19

    You get them Richard. We need to take back the media and make it real again.

    I stopped listening to radio in the US long ago, even public radio. It's all become so homogenized. It's as unwholesome as fast food.

  4. rps

    3rd March 2010 at 07:31


    I wish it was as simple as just writing the blog.

    I must listen to some of those music links you put up.


  5. PDAllen

    3rd March 2010 at 12:10

    Those are very rough recordings, done on the cheapest of equipment.

  6. rps

    3rd March 2010 at 12:13

    You mean your recordings? Doesn't matter, does it? A friend of mine once said it's not the sound quality that counts, but the spirit. People dance to the spirit, not to the sound quality. R

  7. PDAllen

    3rd March 2010 at 12:31

    When I started out, I wasn't used to recording myself. Very stiff & self-conscious. But I'm getting used to it. I found a little alcohol helps. That explains why so many musicians have substance abuse problems.

    And there's no overdubs, so most if not all of the recordings have mistakes.

    Another topic. I was very interested in setting up a pirate radio station about a decade ago. I don't how the law feels about that over there.

  8. rps

    4th March 2010 at 07:54

    The mistakes don't matter that much, do they? I know what you mean re substance abuse.

    UK is still very strict re pirate radio stations. I don't think small, occasional internet stations count as pirates, as they're not using radio frequency, nor doing it to make any cash.

    I'm thinking of doing a 30-minute podcast every week, just as an mp3 file, but haven't got time right now to even think about it.


  9. PDAllen

    4th March 2010 at 12:05

    In the US, the FCC set up guidelines allowing very limited radio transmissions. Basically, they don't care if you broadcast over a few city blocks. I've lost track of developments here. Concerned with other matters.

    If you find the time for podcasts, please let us know about them. And good luck with your efforts here.

  10. Anonymous

    4th March 2010 at 18:40

    I am right behind you Richard (so is Andrew Sachs). The only problem I see is that the Tories would want your salary revealed. it could be embarrassing! BTW, Johnathon Ross himself said it is a 'rank bad decision'

  11. Anonymous

    4th March 2010 at 18:41

    Anonymous is really Huggy. I just pressed the wrong button.

  12. rps

    4th March 2010 at 23:36

    Huggy, for a minute I thought Wossy himself had decided to comment, but obviously he is ignoring all this. I think presenters salaries should be disclosed. Those of us who work for pubicly accountable institutions, such as charities, have to disclose (want to disclose) their salaries. There needs to be transparency. That's why I've publicly stated I would onnly want £30k a year to do the Saturday show, as opposed to Ross's full package of just over £5 mil a year for two TV shows and a radio show. R

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