WHYS is the name we’ve given to the conversation between all of us at BBC World Service News and all of you. It’s going on 24 hours a day, through this blog and all of our programmes.
IS WHYS ALSO A PROGRAMME?
The programme broadcasts at 1800GMT from October until April, then depending where you are in the world at 1700GMT or 1800GMT between April and October. It’s appears on BBC World News television on an ad hoc basis.
WHAT KIND OF PROGRAMME IS IT?
We aim to create a global conversation where the BBC provides the platform, but our contributors control the topics that we discuss and how those topics are discussed. We use all technology available to us to make the programme as open as possible. We receive phone calls, calls over the net, text messages, tweets, emails and comments on this blog.
IS THE PROGRAMME ALWAYS LIVE?
Yes. We may sometimes run pre-recorded discussions if it has proved impossible for them to take place during our hour on air. This doesn’t happen very often. If it does, there will always be time after we’ve played these discussions for you to comment.
HOW CAN I LISTEN?
Whether you want to hear WHYS or any other BBC World Service News programme, our website is a good place to find out how you can hear them. If you can’t receive the BBC on the radio, you can always listen online. Some television services also provide BBC World Service.
HOW DO THE PEOPLE WE HEAR ON WHYS GET ON AIR?
WHYS often gets mistaken for straight phone-in where we go on air, mention a topic and people call in. It’s a bit more complicated than that. There are lots of ways people end up on the programme. Here are all the ones we can think of.
1. They phone the show while we’re on air.
2. They text or email the show while we’re on air, and we reply asking if they’d like to speak to us.
3. They text or email the show while we’re on air and give their phone number and we ring them back.
4. They post on a debate on bbcnews.com and leave their phone number. One of the WHYS team gives them a ring and invites them on to the show.
5. The same as No.4, but they get in touch through our blog.
6. Subscribers to the WHYS Daily Email often reply saying they want to take part and give their phone number.
7. We get in touch with people who have taken part in discussions related to that day’s subject if we think they would like contribute.
8. We get in touch with people with experiences that may give them a view or insight into that day’s subject and invite them on.
HOW DO STORIES AND ISSUES GET ON WHYS?
The whole WHYS team sits down at around 1100GMT (if you’d like to join us on the phone let us know). We talk through story suggestions we’ve received from listeners, we make suggestions ourselves, and we monitor the stories which are being discussed the most online.
We also check which stories on bbcnews.com are being read the most and commented on the most. We then discuss which stories and issues warrant a place in the programmes running order. No story will make the show unless the person suggesting it (whether listener or WHYS staff) can prove it is of global interest.
HOW DO I PITCH A STORY TO WHYS?
This page explains all.
HOW OFTEN DOES WHYS GO ON THE ROAD?
A lot, but there’s no hard and fast rule. This page has a list of every trip we’ve made.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHERE WHYS TRAVELS TO?
There are a few different reasons why we leave the studio in London.
1. The most common is that there’s an editorial reason to visit somewhere. For instance when we broadcast from the South Africa Zimbabwe border, or when we went to Amsterdam to discuss a proposed ban on the burqa.
2. The BBC is increasingly seeking to reach new audiences with the help of re-broadcast partners. For instance, in Oregon people can hear us on OPB. Sometimes we want to visit partner stations either to continue an on-going relationship or to start one.
3. We get invited to take the show somewhere. For instance, IN June 2009 we were asked to take the show to a major radio conference in the States. It’s important to us to discuss our work with fellow radio professionals around the world, so we said yes. Doing a show in front of them gives us a fantastic opportunity to get some constructive criticism from people who know plenty about making great radio programmes. It also helps us tell them about what we’re doing.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WORK ON WHYS?
We have an editor (Mark Sandell), a presenter and five producers. You can find out more about the team here.
WHERE IS THE WHYS STUDIO?
It’s in the south-east wing of Bush House, which is just by Covent Garden in the West End of London.
HOW LONG HAS WHYS BEEN AROUND?
Our first show was on October 31 2005.
ARE YOU RELATED TO OTHER HAVE YOUR SAY PROGRAMMES?
Yes we are. The BBC wants to provide a number of platforms for what it calls ‘the global conversation’. Part of this is WHYS, the Have Your Say section of bbcnews.com and Africa Have Your Say. There are also Have Your Say programmes produced by the BBC World Service’s language services, including BBC Persian and BBC Arabic.
All that said, the editorial agenda of all the different programmes are not intertwined. We often go our own way.
WHY ARE THE PHONE LINES SO BAD?
Well we’d like to think they aren’t most of the time, but we do sometimes have problems especially when speaking to those of you in Africa.
Sometimes we have to abandon a call because of the quality of the line. Sometimes though we will persevere if we are hearing from someone in a place where we have trouble speaking to people.
So if we get a call from Afghanistan we’re more likely to tolerate a poor quality phone line than we would if it was a call from the States.
In February 2008, some of you sent us questions about the show which we did our best to answer. You read them all here.