Notes from June Meeting: BBC Radio 4
Alison Finch â€“ Arts Co-ordinator, Central Planning Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org
Room 7028, Broadcasting House
London W1A 1AA
Alison works in the Central Planning part of Radio 4 and she says that Radio 4 runs on books â€“ there is a book related item on practically every programme on the channel. There are a huge amount of opportunities for you and a mention will sell a great many copies.
Alison works across a broad spectrum of programmes including Womanâ€™s Hour, Midweek, You and Yours, Open Book, Front Row, Saturday Live, Excess Baggage, Saturday Review etc.
Although they donâ€™t normally allow you to have an author on more than one of the above programmes, there are sneaky ways of doing it eg an interview on Womanâ€™s Hour and also Intelligence tracks a month or so later.
Many of the programmes are live so authors have to be available at the time e.g. Start the Week goes out live at 8.30 on a Monday Morning. Womanâ€™s Hour also goes out live as does Midweek and Saturday Live (obviously). Excess Baggage and You and Yours are pre-records. Radio 3â€™s Night Waves doesnâ€™t cover a lot of fiction but will do an extended interview. Alison also feeds into the World Service and there is no clash here.
When pitching an author please make sure they speak very good English, do not have a stammer and are not shy. Do say if you think a pre-record might work better.
News Programmes are not within her remit so do decide which programme you are pitching for. Listen to the programmes – if you donâ€™t have time during the day you can catch them on Listen Again. Saturday Live and Loose Ends will often pick up on Paperbacks but the author needs to be in London on a Saturday morning. Desert Island Discs is another programme Alison works on and often features authors not necessarily around publication time.
Alison would love to know about books at least 6 weeks in advance of publication and is very happy to meet with publicists to talk through catalogues â€“ she is currently looking at spring 2013.
She likes lots of information so feel free to â€˜bombardâ€™ her; the best way is by email as she works from Oxford 2 days a week. She has a work experience person ringing round to make sure publication dates havenâ€™t changed so â€˜donâ€™t make too good friends with herâ€™!
Alison can tell you who the producers are for each of the shows at any time as they move around quite frequently. She also knows what each programme is doing and where they have gaps. They are all willing to pass on information if something is more suitable for another programme. Alison finished off by saying â€˜Please listen to the shows and pitch correctly!â€™
Dixi Stewart â€“ Executive Producer, Saturday Live and Excess Baggage email@example.com
Saturday Live is re-launching and they are looking for people to feature in a variety of ways. Mainly big names as studio guests. They are not strictly meant to plug things but can always work it in and mention it on the website. Probably wouldnâ€™t do straight author interview. Looking for guests they can link with other guests. Recently featured David Gentleman (London, Youâ€™re Beautiful) who has designed stamps and Robert Peston talking about the value of things. This worked really well so try to think about a back story and how your author could be linked to the programme and other possible guests. Most of Saturday Live as the name suggests is live but there are possibilities to pre-record features as well e.g. Inheritance Tracks which is like a mini Desert Island Discs (15 minutes). Other possible slots for authors are Day Trips and Secret Lives, particularly if they have a slightly unusual hobby or activity they take part in eg Toyah Willcox and Martina Cole. Saturday Live is an hour and a half programme so great for authors to be on as guests as they can keep referring back to them.
Dixi likes to see finished copies and then follow up with a phone call. Happy to feature childrenâ€™s authors though usually only big names eg Anthony Horowitz. Comedians are perfect for Saturday Live and Loose Ends. She listens to Womanâ€™s Hour and Start the Week for possible guests.
Katy Hickman â€“ Senior Producer, Start the Week firstname.lastname@example.org
Start the Week does a tremendous amount with books. Sometimes features 3 or 4 but on average 2. The show, presented by Andrew Marr, goes out live every Monday at 9.00 oâ€™clock so your author must be available then. Unable to do down-the-line interviews as 3 or 4 live guests are in conversation. Start the Week is all about ideas and debate so not really interested in Memoirs; Midweek would be more appropriate for that. Donâ€™t feature too many fiction authors (although occasionally as 3rd or 4th guest). The programme has been undergoing some changes recently and is now looking for themes e.g. discussion on creativity so can bring in a poet, a scientist and then perhaps a fiction author. Each guest has time on their own to talk with Andrew and then enter into a more general conversation with the other studio guests on a particular theme eg Spain, Africa, China etc. Publication dates are not crucial so a month or so later is fine (unless the book is going to absolutely everywhere!). Guests need to be really good talkers and will need to be able to talk about other peopleâ€™s ideas and they need to do their homework on the other guests.
When contacting Katy please include as much information as possible about the book in the body of an email and if available attach a You Tube clip for her to look at. The programme is off air until 17th September.
Nighwaves is off air during the Proms.
Programmes running through the summer are always very happy to hear from you as can be quite short of guests!
BBC Radio 4â€™s Bookclub: is led by James Naughtie and is where a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best known novels. Books chosen are mainly those that James is interested in. Heâ€™s keen to do Stephen King. There is also a World Book Club lead by the World Service arts team.