After years of squeezing children's radio programmes from the analogue stations, Radio 4 is finally abandoning 'Go for it!' the excellent children's programme currently airing on Sunday evenings. The story was snuck into the final segment of headlines at 6pm and I can't even find much trace of the announcement on the BBC site.
Admittedly, the BBC have a fair point in that GFI isn't really reaching its target audience of 4-14 year olds. The show pulls 450,000 per programme on Sunday evenings squashed between obituaries, listener feedback and selections of the week's best radio: it's a peculiar location in the schedule. So is it very surprising that the average is apparently in their mid-50s? (though isn't this very close to Radio 4's general audience profile?). And I guess though I'm not THAT old, all the listeners who I know who are fond of Barney and his weekly GFI-ers are over 40.
But the programme allows a rare space in the network - and on analogue radio - for children's voices to be heard at all: for their point of views and their insights to be articulated. On the day when the Guardian publishes a piece by Tanya Byron that we're becoming a nation terrified by young people, do we really want to be getting into the habit of isolating their voices from the networks?* When questioning writers, musicians, artists and programme makers, they ask not just the obvious questions, but also often very savvy ones -- and I don't think I have ever heard a contributor appear less than engaged with these young interrogators.
Besides, I defy anyone who heard the marvellous edition talking to children about death, to not have been touched or found it incredibly useful to help talk with children experiencing the death of loved ones. Michael Rosen must be gutted to hear of the demise of this always enjoyable programme.
Is it enough to just head CBeebies radio to Radio 7 between 5 and 8 am on weekdays? Given this targets specifically those aged 0-6? Where will the 7-14s be heading and what is the BBC doing to create the next generation of audiences for its output?
*Hat tip to Cloud for his timely contribution