WHYS Wednesday; an apology.


Yesterday’s programme from the tent in west London fell way below what you’re entitled to expect from us and i can only apologise.

It wasn’t actually our fault, (though i’m not saying i didn’t make any mistakes !) but that doesn’t matter – it was a tough listen and i can only hope we don’t inflict anything like that on you again.

If there was one saving grace, the BBC’s podcast system has been down for a while, so we didn’t irritate any more people than we already had.

I’ll explain :

The Global News Division of the BBC, of which we’re a part – wanted to showcase all it’s excellent programmes in a tent so that the rest of the BBC could come and see them.

Of course, we were delighted to be asked – we have established a strong reputation for doing good programmes in different places around the world- most recently a rooftop in Mumbai ,but i’d include the burnt-out house in Kibera, Kenya, Robben Island,  we’ve broadcast from soup kitchens, refugee churches and even a truck stop on the Zimbabwe border.

All of those programmes sounded better than yesterday’s.

We linked up with Africa Have Your Say – as we have done before – which meant we were going out live in a different hour (one earlier). That meant we couldn’t use our usual studio , so we were in an unfamiliar studio , with staff who knew nothing about the programme.

Back in the tent, because an earlier (pre-recorded )  programme had over run, we had precious little time to prepare.

Then there was the sound , which was to be honest, awful. People couldn’t hear each other in the tent, so lord alone knows how you heard it in your cars , homes and workplaces.

For a boring technical reason (there were a few of those), we couldn’t put phone calls on-air- very frustrating as we had people waiting to talk to us from Iran – until later in the programme.

The news bulletin on the half hour wasn’t played, we found ourselves back on air earlier than we expected, and despite some very professional handling by Ros and Alex, it didn’t work.

As you can imagine there have been one or two words spoken here today and i hope we don’t let you down like that again.

29 Responses to “WHYS Wednesday; an apology.”

  1. June 18, 2009 at 14:19

    Hi Mark,
    I listened just to the recorded edition of the show. It was as good as the other shows direcly from WHYS studio.

    Even if the live edition wasn’t good as you had expected, it remains just an exception.

    Actually, there were editions that sounded “chaotic” because of bad lines, or speakers interrupting each other or steering from the topic. But this remains one of the features of live radio.

    Experienced presenters, like Ros, can deal with these situations when the majority of listeners are unaware of the difficulties going on.

  2. 2 John in Salem
    June 18, 2009 at 14:22

    It really wasn’t that bad on this end, guys, honestly.

  3. 3 RightPaddock
    June 18, 2009 at 15:10

    So you selected a location based on its suitability as a place in which to show off to your colleagues.

    I’m glad it went wrong, perhaps from now on you’ll focus on the audience and the material rather than yourselves and your mates!!

  4. 4 Ann
    June 18, 2009 at 15:10

    I didn’t hear all the programme as I was busy, but the bit I heard seemed fine.

    To be honest I’m constantly astounded at how well the WHYS teams put these fast paced shows together daily, while being often on the move. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

    Glitches happen – doesn’t change all the great work you all do.


  5. 5 Julia in Portland
    June 18, 2009 at 15:51

    It truly was not as bad as you may feel it was. After having you here in Portland, I can see on a small scale what you might be dealing with technically. You still brought together an interesting, thought provoking show.

    The frustrations probably felt much worse on your end, but I would hope that your audience has listened long enough to know that you run a very good show and that you will all always do your level best to keep trudging through.

    Cut yourself some slack, guys! We will continue to listen, call and write.

  6. 6 Konstantin in Germany
    June 18, 2009 at 16:27

    I didn’t think the show was bad at all. The acoustic was maybe a little off, so what? We listeners tune in, not to enjoy first grade sound, but to get informed an to listen to other listeners and their view on current affairs. That’s what we heard yesterday and that’s what the show is about, right? So you fulfilled your purpose to 100%.

    Danke aus Deutschland

    June 18, 2009 at 16:38

    I have read the terms of participating in BBC programs. If you take them seriously to the letter and I am sure they must be dire to those employed by the BBC, you would not want to be part of it. In my case I would just bolt off. It is simply due to this reasy why you are so judgmental on your performance but, hey! We approve, comend and admire your audacity and the bare cheek to stand on a beer crate to ask us your two cents worth of silly questions. So far you are just one heck of good team.

    I live at the foot of Kilimanjaro on Kenyan side. Welcome! Hey! You could take the mountain with you to adorn your city instead of that funny wheel. I am tired of seeing it every morning.

  8. 8 stephen
    June 18, 2009 at 16:57

    I think you overheated the equipment! A tent with Hugh spotlights, lots of people, in the summer and hosting the show in a suit, shirt and a tie. I am surprised you lasted the hour! Where you trying to loose weight Ross? You don’t need too.

  9. 9 UMOH AMOS (Nigeria)
    June 18, 2009 at 17:03

    I much appreciate the frankness in putting up this bit of explanation. It goes a long way to enlighten us on what really happened. I personally didn’t know that the audio quality was having that bad impact on WHYS global audience until I saw your post.

    Good work guys, I am convinced it will never happen again.

  10. 10 Mark Sandell
    June 18, 2009 at 17:21

    Rightpaddock, we didn’t select the venue it was selected for us, and usually that isn’t a problem. Wherever we are , we should be able to discuss anything. Of course we put the needs of the audience first- that’s the whole point of the programme…

    and thanks to the rest of you for cutting some slack…we’re still a little shell shocked !

  11. 11 Joseph A. Migliore
    June 18, 2009 at 17:47

    The introduction for yesterday’s programming, was lterary awful. The entire broadcast, just wasn’t well prepared — It was as if, everything was just slammed together at the last moment.

    Anytime WHYS has to rely on technology and phone lines, such as yesterday (trying to connect with Tehran), this will definitely be difficult to achieve.

    Having good solid phone lines from Tehran, and different points-of-view, such as what occurred during the Portland broadcast (last Thurs.), would definitely be a plus for any future broadcast!

    Good-luck for today’s programming! Come guys, let’s get with it!

  12. 12 Anthony
    June 18, 2009 at 18:00

    Wasn’t that bad. Everybody has bad days 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  13. 14 Dennis Junior
    June 18, 2009 at 18:03

    Your apology is accepted….
    ~Dennis Junior~

    • 15 Dennis Junior
      June 19, 2009 at 02:34

      Question: to the fine staff at BBC WHYS? Who is Alex, that is
      being referenced in Mark’s memo…..

      ~Dennis Junior~

  14. 16 Vijay
    June 18, 2009 at 18:30

    I don’t mind clicks,hissing and dodgy phone lines, I think you are too quick to move away from a contributor if there is even a small ambiguity on the phone line,mind you I listen to the radio on shortwave and am used to a lot of interference.
    The prerecorded programme was a little surprising because someone should have edited the show for latter broadcast and checked it for swearing and timing etc.

  15. June 18, 2009 at 19:26

    Please don’t worry too much, you know why people are listening to this programme it is the variety, the opportunity for all people to have a word. Very important. We all know that you are most professional, specifically with your courage to speak out and how you handle situations with persons a bit too emotional to be understood. No one will remember the one just litte less good sound that happend once, I am sure, the technicians will make it jelly again next time.

  16. 18 Richard
    June 19, 2009 at 00:39

    I listen on WCPN 90.3 in Cleveland, Ohio. I love the show. Not every show hits the exact mark, however no need to worry about it. I always enjoy the show regardless of any sound or phone problems. Keep up the good work.

  17. 19 Bob in Queensland
    June 19, 2009 at 05:01

    Is this a good day to submit my CV as a freelance audio engineer?

    My only access to the shows these days is via the podcast so obviously I can’t comment. However, I seem to recall that the broadcast engineering subset of Murphy’s Law is that “if something can go wrong, it will…when the bosses are watching”.

    Sound like you fell foul of this.

  18. 20 Vishaka
    June 19, 2009 at 10:42


    I am a member of the BBC staff and I was in the tent as a listener. I am ashamed to say, it was also my first time listening(watching) WHYS. I dont believe I have missed it all this time!

    Regarding the show/live/broadcast, whatever you want to call it; i think it was very good! I think with the lights, the wind blowing, the tents suffocating Ros , it went quite well. The audiences were very interesting with their protests story. I know it was not perfect and there were glitches but thats only part of life. Being on the other side as an audience, I got to see how Ros,Claire and everyone try to manage the glitches as best as they can and give you audiences all around the world the quality you expect!

    I think instead of criticizing, its time to appreciate WHYS for keeping up with the game and trying everythng they can to bring the best to you around the world!

    Well done the team and I am an avid listener now 🙂


  19. 21 Ros Atkins
    June 19, 2009 at 12:04

    It’s interesting to read that many of you are being a little kinder about it than we are. But then I think that’s frustrated us is that it was all aviodable. If you try something difficult (I remember being in a mud house in Tanzania with no electricity and only Mike our producer with me) adn you encounter problems then you’ve taken a calculated risk and you have to accept that something might go wrong. But there was no risk in Wednesday and that’s what made it a little aggravating. Anyway, it’s done. Just next time I broadcast my mid-programme chat to a live audience I wouldn’t mind knowing it’s happening!

  20. 22 Mark Sandell
    June 19, 2009 at 14:30

    Vishaka, thankyou! Very blown away by your comments as i am comforted by the kindness (and slight micky-taking) from the rest of you.

  21. 23 Mark Sandell
    June 19, 2009 at 14:32

    And Dennis, Alex Jakana, the presenter of Africa Have Your Say, is who i was referring to. He was co-presenting with Ros, and did a fine job in very trying circumstances.

    I’ll shut up now.

    • 24 Dennis Junior
      June 19, 2009 at 17:19

      No, Problem:

      Mark, I was wondering who Alex was…and, worry about the safety of the staff…


  22. June 19, 2009 at 14:49

    Hi Mark and Ros,

    I was the first to comment on your apology. I am glad to see almost everybody agrees with me the the show from the tent was OK : from regular listeners, radio expert -Mr Bob and Vishaka- a member of the BBC staff. But there is almost no one who agrees with your version that the show was a fiasco.

    I know your ideal is that the BBC should be PPC ( perfect precision and correctness). I hope the comfort you’re feeling now has obliterated the feeling of frustration and disappointment.

  23. 26 Mark Sandell
    June 19, 2009 at 15:17

    Thanks Abdelilah, i’ll stop being such a sensitive soul !

  24. 27 steve/oregon
    June 19, 2009 at 16:20

    Just don’t let it happen again lol J/K….. In all honestly after seeing you guys in action in The Dalles I am amazed at how well it all goes together everyday. The program was fine

  25. 28 patti in cape coral
    June 19, 2009 at 20:35

    Other than the sound being a little off, I thought the show was fine. The fact that so many things can go wrong wtih this type of unpredictable format is a big part of the show’s appeal. I was kind of out of commission due to personal issues for a lot of my life, and was very ignorant about most world issues until now, and you guys are making it very enjoyable for me to catch up. Keep up the good work!

  26. 29 Dr.A.K.Tewari
    June 20, 2009 at 17:57

    It is an internal affair of Iran.If rigging in poll has occured that too should be handled by them.I think it is antiamerica feeling at the grass root level.People are there in favour of an orthodox govt.

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