Tuesday, July 19, 2011

bad news for the short story

I was all in a warm glow about the short story's radiance on the radio after having one of my stories broadcast in June (see my last post), and not least because it was chosen for Pick of the Week. So, I was dismayed to discover this week that the new BBC Radio Four controller Gwyneth Williams, has decided to reduce the story reading slot to ONE a week (it used to be every weekday).

I know how well loved these story slots are by writers and by listeners alike - fifteen minutes of transportation through voice and words. We are the envy of the literary world.

Cries of anguish and protest are being orchestrated, both in the e-petition (below) and through the Society of Authors to which you can add your voice. It's hoped that a question will be put to Gwyneth Williams about this on Radio Four's Feedback programme this Friday, 29th July.

I couldn't summarise the issue better than James Robertson has in his comment on National Short Story Week's e-petition:

"This does seem an incredibly retrograde step, and particularly ill-judged since Radio 4 is one of the very few media outlets which can demonstrate a truly excellent record in supporting and promoting the short story as a literary form. It seems to me that radio is THE pre-eminent medium for the short story form. There should be more short stories, not fewer, on radio. The 15-minute story, read on radio, is perfectly suited for our current times of busy lives, multi-tasking and shortened attention spans. It is also, in relative terms as far as the creative arts are concerned, very produce.

"Looking at this from a Scottish perspective, I have a horrible sense of déjà vu. For many years Radio Scotland carried an excellent morning slot, five days a week, called Storyline. This was axed in 2000 after a hugely successful and varied eight years. Its demise as the only literary strand then running on Radio Scotland coincided almost precisely with a general dumbing-down of the station. Ironically, Radio Scotland is beginning to show an interest in developing literary and book-based programmes again, including broadcasting occasional short stories. But there is no question that, to my mind, the regular broadcasting of short stories is one mark of an intelligent and creative radio service. It would be appalling if Radio 4 chooses this moment to ditch its honourable and long association with the short story form."

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