Saturday, 10 May 2008

The Joys of Local Radio

As a seasoned listener to Radio 5 Live, I am well acquanited with sports commentaries on the radio. However, except for a podcast or two, this particular radio statation has some what of a monopoly in what I listen to in terms of sports radio. Sport on five is a fantastic programme, as are the commentaries that are offered. 6-0-6 is probably past its sell by date in terms of its concept as the programme is lucky to attract perhaps one intelligent caller a programme, if that (The peak of such idiocy was achieved a few weeks back when one caller, a United fan, suggested that Wayne Rooney wasn't the standard expected of a Manchester United player). The World Football phone in on Saturday mornings as part of the "Up All Night" programme is far superior and the podcast is one of the best out there. All of this content is great, but it tends to focus on the more mainstream issues, and to be honest, there isn't enough sport on the station. I'm not a huge fan of Talksport, so what was I to do to satisfy my insatiable desire for sports radio? I put on local radio.

A lot of local radio programming is hit and miss. My home station is BBC Radio Kent, and up until recently I'd never listened to it unless to hear if the school was closed due to snow. This was changed when i clicked on a link that would give me live commentary of a Friends Provident Trophy match involving Kent. I've always been a fan of Test Match Special and the fact that they can often make certain cricket matches more entertaining than if it was on the television, but this cricket commentary was much different. It seemed to attract a much more hardcore following, and while I though such a programme would have limited appeal, I was wrong. There were people sending in questions from all over the country, and seemed very informed. Much like the World Football phone-in, this attracted a much more intelligent sports fan than 6-0-6.

As I support Manchester United, I had no reason to turn on the radio to listen to football news, and although I follow the fortunes of Gillingham, Ebbsfleet and Maidstone United, the lack of a major sports team in the county is represented by the relatively small amount of sports content on the station. As I write this, I am listening to live commentary of Ebbsfleet United v Torquay in the FA Trophy final at Wembley on BBC Radio Kent. Admittedly, there are only the Football League play-offs to offer an alternative for my sporting attention, but its entertaining and is a refreshing change from the good, but predictable, Five Live football offering on a Saturday.

The BBC website offers links to local radio commentaries when they are on, and next time you are looking for something to listen to, there are far worse alternatives than taking a punt and listening to one. The BBC, i feel does not promote local sport content enough and although it might take a while to find, it is generally interesting and worth that time. I shall be looking forward to the Kent cricket matches over the summer, although favourites such as Sport on Five and Test Match Special will still be essential listening.