Radio 3 is the thinking man’s station

Radio 3 is the thinking man’s station


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2020

In a statement congratulating himself on improved audience figures, the Radio 3 controller Alan Davey said this week: ‘I think BBC Radio 3 is important to the kind of society we are. I think having a place where you can take time out from the world, listen to something in depth and get a new perspective is really important. That’s the job that Radio 3 does and I think that’s a job for all time and our listeners seem to think so too judging by the high share and reach this quarter and year.’

That is four thinks in three sentences.

BBC Radio posted a quarterly audience of 2.13 million, its highest in three years.

We think.



  • Nik says:

    I’m glad he said “I think…”.
    The current favourite in management speak is “I feel that…”, even (or especially) in contexts where facts or thoughts should be more important than emotions.

  • Will Duffay says:

    These are dangerous times for serious music on the radio. Radio 3 is quite distinct from the other classical stations in the UK, and is arguably the greatest classical music radio station in the world. The Conservative government would happily risk that excellence through the ideological destruction of the BBC.

  • At least he didn’t say it was “relaxing”.

  • Jules says:

    Typical insular smugness from a BBC drone. Time the BBC was put out of its misery.

  • John Borstlap says:

    After some thinking, I think it’s rather pretentious and ignoring the possibility that audiences are listening for very different reasons. A controller instructing radio listeners how to listen to the programs, may be reflecting the kind of society we are, but whether that is a good thing, remains to be seen. We still do remember the disaster as carefully created by William Glock.

    At least, that is what I think.

  • HerbieG says:

    In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, he would say that! He will be long remembered for achieving the most swingeing dumbing down of Radio 3 since the 1980s. It’s all just words -‘listening to something in depth’ means hearing the whole works – not just assorted snippets most of the day – with nothing longer than 15 minutes. It’s insulting to the audience to assume that they have only short attention spans.

    Years ago, I decided that the sign that dumbing down had reached completion would be hearing The Laughing Policeman or I’m a Pink Toothbrush on R3. It now seems that Mr Davey’s regime has exceeded even that – they now have Dolly Parton and computer game music! It’s all got to be fun…

    Self praise is no praise, and I wonder whether this is a quasi-valedictory statement to polish up his CV in anticipation of his being dropped when Lord Hall departs. Maybe he’ll soon be sleeping next to him on the red benches! Or perhaps his departure will be part of the same economy drive that will see the departure of Victoria Derbyshire. If so, then the BBC should consider replacing him with someone who has a genuine love for, and knowledge of, classical music and literature – rather than another civil service suit.

  • Blaenboy says:

    In comparison to much else, I am on the side of radio 3. Do not do vacuous criticism , much could be lost.

  • Herman Vermeer says:

    Is this including listeners worldwide via Internet?

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    ==four thinks in three sentences

    Yes, it does jar. So much for the thinking man

  • Una says:

    The more I travel the world, the more I appreciate BBC Radio 3, 4, the World Service – and SkyNews.

  • Mark says:

    Great news. I agree 100%. Don’t change just develop.

  • Michael Turner says:

    If Alan Davey ever needs any feedback on how to improve audience figures, he only needs to ask correspondents to Slipped Disc, or just read posts about the station from the past.

    Two simple things that he could do:-

    1. Get rid of shallow, overly ingratiating presenters;
    2. Get rid of the policy of broadcasting bleeding chunks of pieces.

    • Eric says:

      The presenter Elizabeth Alker needs diction lessons.
      Her pronunciation is mushy and she always sounds like she is about to lisp.

  • Brian Gallacher says:

    These days Radio 3 is in some ways no different to Classic FM. Every morning same old same old.