By Charlie Wolf
LONDON — Working in London, England, as an American talk show host has its challenges. For instance, for the first two-three years of my six year stint as a host on commercial national talk station, TalkSPORT, (Talk Radio UK) doing a political/news-based show – it was the audience’s view that I was not allowed an opinion at all, either as a host and especially as a “Yank.”
For years on the BBC – where there is “speech radio” (drama, news, news analysis – and done very well) there had been very little interactive talk, and even then the host – though he would occasionally explore or challenge a point – was mostly a moderator not an instigator or opinion former. Talk shows on the BBC, now more opinionated than they used to be, are very much in the mould of “on the one hand there is …. But on the other hand…. what do you think?” British radio – due to over-regulation, a fairness doctrine, dominant licence funded BBC, a lack of competition, and a “scared-of-one’s-own-shadow” attitude to regulators – will never have a thriving talk radio market as in the US. There is not the space for talent to truly develop in talk commercially.