It was four years ago today…

happy birthday….that WHYS first went on air.

Excuse the self-indulgence but it would be remiss of me not to mention this landmark.

To the right, that original team (pictured in DC after our first week on the road) of Kevin, David, Rabsy, Fiona, Peter and Ros (Anu had already gone home).

Still the best day’s work i’ve ever done getting that lot together.

anuThis is Anu before i took her desk away in New Orleans – it was our first outside broadcast – the first of many that took us to places like Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Israel, Mexico , Italy, Iceland, Germany and all over the U.S.

When we started there were a few people here at Bush House who  mocked us (you know who you are !) and a station in Salt lake City dropped the show after 4 days, describing us as “BBC Lite” and “irrelevant”  .

I like to think we’ve come a long way since then, not just in miles. Our rosprogramme has been shaped by you – naturally – but also by our partner stations, particularly those in the U.S and Africa.

The blog moved from inside the BBC to outside , people working on the show have had weddings, fiona and shonababies and illnesses, left and come back, left and gone away for good. 

We’ve been on TV and other interactive programmes have (flatteringly) come to us for help and advice. At least six university theses (if that’s right) have been based around what we’re trying to do. 

We’ve been criticised (one “writer” with his own agenda likened us to Jerry Springer) and praised (one listener said we were the reason he got up every day!) and a bit of indifference in between.

fiona and the awardOh yes, and there was that Sony Award. A very proud moment.

Fiona (left) made us a cake yesterday and Ros jokingly started chanting “four more years”.

That would be nice.


45 Responses to “It was four years ago today…”

  1. 1 Amy in Oregon
    October 31, 2009 at 00:17

    Happy Anniversary and here’s to another 4 more!!! Come back to Oregon soon.

  2. October 31, 2009 at 01:16

    My impression about your program is a very good one. I am from Liberia, but live and study in Japan. Prior to my arrival in Japan, I did follow and participated in many of the BBC Programs such as Network Africa, Focus on Africa, News Hours, World have your say and the likes. I really enjoyed sending entries to most of these programs and decided to keep on even after moving to Japan. I have always participated in WHYs programs both on the telephone and on the blog. It is interestin and wish that you keep on. As for me, I value your program in that it keeps me informed about most of the buring issues our world has and continue to challenge. Through WHYs, I am able to have my say on those issues I believe not only vital to my well being but also to others who may be in the same boat with me as well. I like to rate you 90% thus far and say to you in Japanese 頑張ってくださいね。

  3. 3 Anthony
    October 31, 2009 at 01:24

    Awesome, Happy Berfday!!! Thanks for all the awesomely awesomeness.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  4. 4 Chuksagwu
    October 31, 2009 at 04:44

    Congrats WHYS at 4. You have revolutionised the way it is done by providing a medium for global interraction and cross fertilisation of ideas. Keep the flag flying.

    October 31, 2009 at 07:01

    Oh, its the most mature thing I have ever come across online. It is a well finished brand name that is difficult to forget and very expensive for private aquisition and you wouldn’t manage to unless we have our say.
    Its the most democratic forum. Here we have our own troubles like the rest of the world but we rejoice in exploring solutions.
    I didn’t pay much attention to it at first. In Africa It was just one of those programs on air when you are chopping the carots for diner and then ‘Hi everyone, my name is Ros Atkinson on WHYS’. And then that unforgetable lady voice twitting. ‘Velcome tto WHYS … ring counttry code …… 72 72’. Just like that. My mind was not good enough to get the whole string of other numbers she gave in that lovely tweet. It taught me a lot on what you can achieve through tireless percistence in a new market and strange wares to dispose. Well, It paid off for them because I did buy into all that eventually and it looks as if its for the keeps for me now.


  6. 6 scmehta
    October 31, 2009 at 08:54

    Six University-thesis! Great job, well done for yourselves! Were those pleasure or conscientious works; what does you conscience say?

  7. 7 Jim Newman
    October 31, 2009 at 09:32

    Hello again
    I think BBC lite is quite a good description but don’t worry I’m sure you will improve. I’m still waiting for you to visit Palestinians in Palestine after all you did cosy up to the sionist side. A bit of balance wouldn’t be a bad thing. Of course you would have to get permision from the sionists. That would be an eye opener for you.
    Anyway Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m sure that, one day, WHYS will really live up to it’s name.

  8. October 31, 2009 at 09:38

    congratulations!!! i started listening three years ago, via FM in Berlin. since then, i found the internet feed and listen to it, whenever i have time.
    superfluous to say: keep it up

  9. 9 Elina, Finland
    October 31, 2009 at 09:48

    Happy Birthday WHYS! Hope there are many many more to come! I’m rather new here, but already now you’ve brought so much joy in my life. Thank you, and my best wishes to you all and for the future programmes!

  10. 10 vintner
    October 31, 2009 at 13:20

    Happy Birthday folks! I hope you, or your successors, will continue until all the world’s questions are answered. Remember, we don’t need universal love and understanding, just universal tolerance. and communication.

  11. 11 Jens
    October 31, 2009 at 13:28


  12. 12 zainab\Iraq
    October 31, 2009 at 14:35

    Happy fourth Anniversary WHYS
    I’m so happy to be one of the listerners of this interesting show.
    Wish you all the best, and please can I ask you for something, oh actually they are two things:
    1- can you please stop the news bulletin in the middle of the show.
    2- can you make the show for 2 hours.
    thank you so much

  13. 13 vijay Pillai
    October 31, 2009 at 15:13

    Birthdays are a way of keeping together as a team and reflect on past achievements and plan for the future. You have all earned a 4 year degree in worldwide communication one would think. Good luck to you all.

  14. 14 steve
    October 31, 2009 at 17:44

    You should write a stongly worded letter to WETA in DC and tell them to start doing talk shows again and stop with the classical music format.I miss listening to WHYS over the air, have to listen online now due to the format change of the local station.

  15. 15 Ronald Almeida
    October 31, 2009 at 18:03

    We all need to blow our own horns and beat our drums now and then.

  16. 16 Kevin PE
    October 31, 2009 at 21:31

    Happy birthday WHYS. I am also fairly new and so far have enjoyed the program greatly. I come from a broadcasting background here in SA (SABC) and miss the action immensely. Keep it up and thanks to all Whys staff.

  17. 17 John in Salem
    November 1, 2009 at 00:52

    Happy birthday, WHYS!
    Success of something new depends on so much more than just having the right idea at the right time – vision, innovation, commitment, leadership and having the right team are just a few.
    In WHYS you have created something truly unique, something in which thousands of people all over the world who would otherwise never be aware of each other as individuals can interact and share not just opinions but their thoughts and feelings as well.
    We are all enriched by your efforts and, personally, I know that on the darkest of days there will always be something on WHYS that will force me to think about more than my own life.
    Keep up the good work!

    John in Salem

  18. 18 Julia in Porltand
    November 1, 2009 at 03:04

    I know it is already tomorrow there, but I still wanted to toss out a ‘Happy Birthday’ to you all and a huge ‘Thank You’ for all your work.

    Come back to Portland sometime! You are always welcome!

  19. 19 anu_d
    November 1, 2009 at 09:33

    Hello WHYS Team,
    Congratulations !

    This is a good program…unique in 2 distinct ways:

    1) The diversity it connects together in a one hour radio program…..in a fair and balanced way.

    2) Your prompt finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world that needs to be discussed.

    The only criticism I would have is of the Blog….that is overly moderated in an attempt to be toooo poltically correct.

    neverthless the postives of WHYS far out-weigh other factors…keep going.
    Good Luck–anu_D in Kuwait

  20. 20 paul
    November 1, 2009 at 15:09

    happy anniversary, its a long time coming. and keep on going

  21. 21 Bob in Queensland
    November 1, 2009 at 19:06

    Happy birthday to the whole team, past and present!

  22. November 1, 2009 at 20:25

    Happy birthday WHYS!!!

    I feel so prowd and happy to call myself a BBC fan and especially a WHYS fan. Your team has indeed been the most democratic and liberal regarding most issues that are discussed on the forum. I think various people from every part of the world get a chance to interact with each other and the light-hearted conversation is always a pleasure to listen to and extremely informative. It is an honour to write on the blog.

    I have shifted to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and I don’t know what frequency does the BBC radio brodcast. Please could someone tell me as the BBC radio is undoubtedly my favorite radio or tv channal.

    You rock WHYS team! keep up the great work!

  23. November 2, 2009 at 00:23

    Congratulations WHYS on four great years. I love your show. Many happy returns–and please come back to the Cleveland, Ohio area.

  24. 24 Bert
    November 2, 2009 at 01:23

    Happy birthday WHYS! I think it’s a wonderful, global experiment, and as I’ve already opined, I think you guys do a very professional job of it.

    I’ve been a BBC listener for decades, listening from all parts of the world (except Antarctica). So it was fantastic to be able to talk back. And it’s even more fun to hear what everyone else is thinking, from all over the place.

    BBC lite? Hmmm. Politicians around the world would be wise to listen up. And no doubt, a fair number of them do, at least on occasion.

    I say, jolly good show, and do carry on!

  25. November 2, 2009 at 11:14

    Congratulations! The WHYS team has made it’s mark on radio world wide. BBC has assembled a superb team of producers, and radio personalities to bring us this wonderful dialogue. I’m so grateful to you all!

  26. November 2, 2009 at 12:19

    Terrific Team, terrific work! You put Iran back on the map.

  27. 27 patti in cape coral
    November 2, 2009 at 12:22

    Congratulations WHYS! I can’t listen as often as I used to, for some reason our local radio statiojn changed the timing on the show! I’m grateful to you all for providing such a great show. I started listening last year, so I would be curious to listen to the first shows four years ago and see if there is a big difference between then and now. In any case, you guys do an excellent job, keep up the good work.

  28. 28 Dennis Junior
    November 2, 2009 at 13:40


    Congrats on the World Have Your Say team for the 4 years anniversary of the

    =Dennis Junior=

  29. 29 Eva in Berlin
    November 2, 2009 at 13:53

    Congratulations & happy birthday! I thought I had known WHYS for at least the past 10 years or so. It’s so familiar to me. Don’t know how I went on before you went on air.

  30. November 2, 2009 at 14:12

    Happy Birthday guys,
    So happy WHYS is growing just fine. I am so proud that besides the blog and phone in sessions, I was part of the live show once.
    I think WHYS is what radio should be like, we listen for a while and then we take over the airwaves and have the world listen to us, that way we avoid boredom.
    All the very best, the happier days are ahead!

  31. November 2, 2009 at 14:24

    A very happy birthday WHYS.Thank-you for the blog and the radio, both supreme.

  32. 32 T
    November 2, 2009 at 14:53

    Please try and get on Stateside BBC.

  33. 33 Priyanka
    November 2, 2009 at 15:46

    Congratulations to the wonderful WHYS team 🙂

  34. November 2, 2009 at 16:32

    Congratulations on the fourth year of WHYS.
    Those who had some misgivings about the show must have the courage to admit that it has become a star show. It’s an opportunity for people from different parts of the world to have the chance their own views when they can’t or have the chance to be on their local / national broadcasting channels.

    WHYS is a rainbow show. Its special feature is that it brings views from different parts of the world, helping at least some with prejudices to change their views and those thirsty for opinions from other parts of the world to widen their views and knowledge.

    Thanks WHYS team for bringing a daily show that fills with satisfaction or sometimes it causes frustration because there is still much to say but there is very little time to say it all.

  35. 35 Tom K in Mpls
    November 2, 2009 at 17:05

    Genuine congrats and all. But someone comparing you to Jerry Springer? Don’t they know that show follows a loose script and uses paid actors? I guess that shows what they’re worth. Well, keep having fun.

  36. 36 Tom D Ford
    November 2, 2009 at 17:20

    You’re the best behaved and self disciplined four year old I believe I have ever run into and listened to.

    Wise move, Mark, creating the WHYS Guys.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat, I see creating opportunities for the people of the world to talk to and with each other as humanizing them to each other, as a sort of Waging Peace.

    Hmm, I wonder if any kids dressed as a WHYS Guy for Halloween, as a sort of ordinarily dressed Superhero, Waging Peace by Facilitating Dialogue. (SWPFD?)

    Interesting fantasy, eh, with maybe a movie in the works?

    Anyways, thanks, WHYS Guys and Mark specifically, it’s been a wide range of emotions, and overall fun playing in this sandbox of sound with you.

  37. 37 Dennis@Tc3
    November 2, 2009 at 17:42

    Happy Birthday to the World Have Your Say team….

    =Dennis Junior=

  38. November 2, 2009 at 19:36

    I LOVE your “formidable” and “refreshing” programming! Thanks for hanging in – surprised you would have opponents! Congratulations and Happy Birthday! 🙂 PLEASE, keep up the good work and leadership!

  39. November 3, 2009 at 06:43

    Salaam gang,
    Wow, CONGRATULATIONS guys ! ;)… Let me here wish the superfantastic WHYS team and contributors a very special HAPPY BIRTHDAY and many many many many HAPPY RETURNS Inshallah ! ;)… I am really sooooooo proud of being a loyal listener and contributor to the WHYS programme since October 2006… The WHYS team and listeners are more like my big global family, and I am really soooooo grateful for all the love, support, and kindness that all of you guys have offered me and my Iraq over the years, so THANKS A MILLION to all of you guys, and BRAVO guys, really BRAVO… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  40. 40 Roy, Washington DC
    November 3, 2009 at 07:25

    Happy birthday, WHYS.

  41. 41 Audrey
    November 3, 2009 at 13:45

    Happy belated birthday WHYS. I didnt forget, I promise. Karibu Kenya. Hope you will come to Mombasa soon, the weather is lovely, then we can have a real birthday celebration.

  42. 42 Jessica in NYC
    November 3, 2009 at 18:21

    Toast to you the WHYS team, past and present, and the listeners who have contributed to its evolution and success of the show! You’re definitely one of the best radio shows on air, I try to schedule my lunch daily around your show.

    Happy birthday!

  43. 43 Luz Ma from Mexico
    November 3, 2009 at 19:00

    I love the show, and although it airs in the middle of my workday, I try to listen to it whenever I can.

    Not only you have broaden my acknowledge of world events and the lives of others around the globe, but also, I found dear friends among your listeners/contributors. Thank you!!

    Keep the good work 😉

  44. November 4, 2009 at 10:08

    I love you guys and the way the programme is presented. I love the maturity listeners to the programme display both on the blog and on air. Ros and Madeline, you guys are the bomb. Happy Anniversary and here is to more years.
    I got hooked to this programme last year and since then, i have not found a replacement for it. Thunbs up for you guys.

  45. November 4, 2009 at 10:11

    This goes also to the entire WHYS team, especially those whose voices we never get to hear. You guys are doing great and please keep being the best at the things you do. We can never forget you guys. Hope there is still some of the anniversary cake left?

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