For many of us, one of the first things we do when we wake up is switch on the radio. It’s the friendly companion in the corner as many families get ready for work and school, and a constant throughout the day for others.


We have plenty of choice locally. A raft of national BBC and commercial stations, alongside proudly local services such as Radio Exe, East Devon Radio, Sid Valley Radio, and BBC Radio Devon. I want to focus on the latter. I’m concerned by proposals put forward by the BBC to reduce local programming.


Under the plans, BBC Radio Devon would only remain distinctly Devonian for news bulletins, programmes between 6am and 2pm on weekday, and big local matches. The rest of the programming would be shared between Devon and Cornwall.


The decisions have been taken given the increasing cost of providing services, dwindling audience figures for BBC local radio stations elsewhere, and the freezing of the license fee. The latter was the right decision by the government to help with the cost of living. However, it does pose challenges for the BBC. Managers in London readily wield the knife on services closest to the communities that pay for them. 


I believe there’s a strong case for at least one local non-sports programme for Devon on Saturday and Sunday. I've already raised my concerns in Parliament and will have the opportunity to hold BBC managers to account in an upcoming Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee meeting on December 1st.

We saw the outpouring of love for former BBC Radio Devon presenter Gordon Sparks when he passed away recently. BBC Radio Devon is a well-loved service because it talks about where we live. Its presenters hold politicians like me to account, provide company for many older people, and helps with rural isolation.

I spent seven years working for the BBC in local radio and television. For your amusement, I’ve included my old BBC publicity picture alongside this week's column. Nowadays, if I ask the barber to remove the greys, they just laugh