BBC to axe capital's only world music show


A furore has been sparked following BBC Radio London’s decision to cut the station’s only world music programme A World in London (AWIL) from its schedule. The two hour weekly show hosted by DJ Ritu will be replaced in January by a chat show as part of Station Controller David Robey’s plans to transform the BBC Radio London into a speech-based station. It has prompted an angry backlash from the show’s devoted listeners who claim the BBC is failing multi-cultural London by ignoring its official remit to ‘represent its communities’ and ‘to bring the UK to the world and the world to the UK’.

The BBC’s decision to axe the capital’s only world music radio show has shocked and incensed lovers of global music and culture and London’s ethnic citizens, prompting a huge outcry and a campaign to save AWIL. A Facebook page launched by the show’s fans generated over 600 signatories in the first week, while London based artists have pledged to stage a musical protest. The London Mayor, MPs, GLA members, trade unions and ethnic community leaders are also being asked to lend their support and lobby the BBC to keep the show.

BBC Radio London’s Saturday night world music programme was started by Charlie Gillett in 1995, gaining a strong and loyal following. Renowned disc-jockey and BBC broadcaster DJ Ritu inherited the slot from the legendary presenter back in 2006 when Mr Gillet was forced to retire through ill-health. Renaming the show A World In London to reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the city, DJ Ritu’s show has become a much-loved institution. Regarded as the BBC’s most inclusive programme, it boasts a unique mix of local and international artist interviews, eclectic mixes of new and classic global and UK folk music, CD reviews, and the Going Global diary of world music concerts, clubs & cultural events in London.

During the past four years, AWIL has lived up to its billing of ‘music from all 4 corners of the world’, featuring artists and songs from over 50 countries. Alongside championing unknown talent and music, DJ Ritu has also pulled in some of the biggest music names on the planet, including A R Rahman (India), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Omara Portuondo (Cuba), Jah Wobble (UK), Tinariwen (Mali), and Tarkan (Turkey), picking up listeners across the country and abroad. AWIL’s listener figures have grown continuously and are now on a par with Tony Blackburn’s show; when Ritu broadcast her exclusive interview with Tarkan, AWIL became the most listened to online BBC London show for three weeks running.

Iranian music expert, Fari Bradley, who recently featured on AWIL, asked, “How can two hours of global music and culture be too much for London? BBC Local Radio should be doing far more to represent both my musical heritage and that of many other ethnicities in our massively diverse city. AWIL contributes positively to our better understanding of each other. After all, we almost live on top of each other – but when do we talk?”

Global music promoter and WOM@TT director Debbie Golt added, “In the run-up to the Olympics, AWIL should be given more airtime, not axed! Alongside the music, you have artists talking about their lives, values, and traditions, giving listeners a wonderful insight into their neighbours’ worlds. We call on the Mayor and community leaders to throw their weight behind the campaign to save this unique treasure that epitomises the best of multi-cultural London.”

Currently AWIL is BBC Radio London’s only world music programme, as 90% of the station’s output is speech based. With the majority of the capital’s residents said to have been either born abroad or with foreign ethnic roots, AWIL is a rare platform to showcase their rich and diverse cultural heritage.

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BBC decision to axe AWIL

What an outrageous decision - this is the most inclusive music/cultural show on the airways, celebrating the best of global London, but clearly even 2 hours per week for 'ethnics' is too much for the BBC. So much for their commitment to ethnic diversity and extending choice!!!

The concept of 'different

The concept of 'different cultures' is frankly one of the most boring arbitrary social divsions on the planet. It's like asking whether an individual prefers Pepsi or Coca-Cola in the scale of importance in life.

Different cultures are merely the product of torn quilts, dividing the human social fabric. The concept of culture is also a logical anomaly, creating many different sets of code which is a headache to decipher.

Also, if somebody likes a song enough they could just go out and buy it to stimulate our failing economy while also supporting the individuals that created the music. Better yet, buy it direct from the artist!

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