Fight Cuts: Save ON THE WIRE

Many of you may have heard of BBC Lancashire’s “On The Wire” show already because you’re in the area and tune in. Others may be avid readers of presenter Steve Barker’s reggae reviews for (the unrelated but similarly named) Wire magazine.

Uncarved readers may recall the mix that Paul Meme and I did for the show’s 21st anniversary episode.

Or maybe you’re aware of the numerous tie-ins with people like Lee Perry or the On-U Sound crew.

On The Wire - archive flyer

For me On The Wire is the BBC’s only remaining manifestation of the true spirit of underground eclecticism once also exhibited by John Peel. I’ve heard a ton of the shows as podcasts and downloads over the years. The reggae and dub specials are amazing, but the shows where Steve and the crew shove everything in the bag are even better. Shackleton and King Midas Sound rub up against The Ceramic Hobs and LA Vampires. Raw blues cuts mix with slinky african business. All with impeccable wry northern commentary.

So yeah.

I was greatly saddened to be sent this email by Steve at the weekend:

The Future of On the Wire


Everyone has heard about the cuts that are about to be made by the BBC in the “Drive for Quality” initiative. What is not so well known is how these cuts will impact the specialist shows hosted by local radio.

Effectively there will be no “local radio” after seven o’clock in the evening. Shows will be shared between groups of stations. In the North West this group will be the Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside stations. At this stage it is understood that BBC Radio Lancashire will only be responsible for shared programming on a Sunday afternoon. The high probability is that any output in this slot will be in an “easy listening” format. Therefore. sometime between now and April 2013, by which time all the agreed changes will be implemented, On the Wire will disappear from the airwaves after over twenty eight years of continuous broadcasting.

The proposals are subject to public consultation by the BBC Trust – so you can have your say and, hopefully, make a difference. Go to and look for the “consultation” button or write to Lord Patten, Chairman, BBC Trust, 180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ. You could also write to your MP and local paper.

Failing all this being successful, we will be aiming for On the Wire to continue one way or another, preferably still within the BBC where the programme was identified as a unique BBC product by the BBC Board back in November 1991 when the show was last under threat.

Thanks for your support

The On the Wire team of Steve Barker, Jim Ingham and Michael Fenton


My letter is in the post, but I think communications from people in Lancs will count for more.

Check out previous shows here.

Read about the history of the show here.