Time for BBC Radio Stoke to up their game

Time for BBC Radio Stoke to up their game

OVF founder Rob Fielding says in his latest column, that while he’s delighted at the Sentinel’s investigations into Port Vale FC, the local radio station is lagging behind.

According to Rob, Radio Stoke is “an organisation which is meant to provide value for its licence payers, but which seemingly cannot or will not ask the club the tough questions that the fans demand.”

Back in March 2011, I wrote my first “One Vale View” column, which was a criticism of the the local newspaper titled “The Sentinel: Too Cosy By Half?” It included the following:

“To the observer looking in, it looks like the Sentinel is comfortable with its cosy club relationship, filling the week’s pages with player and manager interviews (courtesy of the regular press conferences at Vale Park), match previews and match reports. Yes, there are columnists to offer a personal view. But little else.

It’s time for the paper to follow the established traditions of journalism – that is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues, and trends to a broad audience. Some of those words are worth repeating namely – investigation and issues – not cosy and safe chats with players, manager and board members.

How come a web blog such as 200 Percent can find the time to look in-depth at the relative merits of Valiant 2001 and Mo Chaudry, not once, but twice? Yet, the Sentinel, today, cannot even bring itself to report what is on the minds of the majority of Vale fans.”

It is to the Sentinel’s huge credit, that none of those criticisms apply today. Well done to them for adopting an investigative stance!

Sadly, the same cannot be said of the local radio station, BBC Radio Stoke, for whom all my old criticisms of the Sentinel still apply today.

Radio Stoke is an organisation which is meant to provide value for its licence payers, but which seemingly cannot or will not ask the club the tough questions that the fans demand.

Yes, there needs to be a right to reply by the board, but fans have real worries about the club right now – and these will not be addressed by Radio Stoke’s bland and sycophantic interviews which fail to address the concerns of the supporters.

I have one suggestion that may help. I recently saw an excellent investigative documentary on BBC Leeds about Ken Bates and Leeds United (sadly no longer available on the iPlayer). It was presented, not by a BBC reporter, but by superb Guardian journalist David Conn, who had first broken the story.

Perhaps BBC Radio Stoke could follow that approach and produce a documentary of its own? A natural choice to present it would be the Sentinel’s Martin Tideswell, who has been influential in covering the latest events at Vale Park.

BBC Radio Stoke may not back my proposal for “Tough talking from Tideswell” (and if its ever commissioned I want royalties on that title suggestion), but one thing is certain… searching questions have been asked by the Sentinel in recent days and it is time for BBC Radio Stoke to up its game and match the local newspaper’s bold approach.


About the author: Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning onevalefan.co.uk website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.

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