Ex presenter Paul Stainton blasts BBC Radio Cambridgeshire over audience decline - but ‘Beeb’ bosses insist market share ‘has seen an increase’

Former BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter Paul Stainton: Picture Steve Williams

Former BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter Paul Stainton: Picture Steve Williams - Credit: Archant

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has shed a third of its listeners in a year, according to figures released today.

In the first quarter of 2017 the station had an audience reach of 109,600 but the latest research shows that in the comparable three months of this year that figure had plummeted to 71,900.

The on line Radio Today website said BBC local radio across the country had a mixed quarter with half the stations losing audience reach whilst the other half added listeners.

Former BBC Cambridgeshire presenter Paul Stainton tweeted today that “I did warn the big bosses that might happen before I left but I was ignored”.

Mr Stainton tweeted that “I care passionately about BBC Cambs but like a stumbling alcoholic until the BBC admit they have a problem they cannot get better”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Generally BBC Radio Cambridgeshire has seen an increase in its market share with audiences listening for longer.

“The new ‘Mann in the Morning’ show has received a positive audience response and is enjoying a higher market share than was the case a year ago.

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“With a rich mix of stories told to us every day by both regular and new listeners, we are confident that we’ll continue to attract a wide audience.”

Mr Stainton revealed through social media – for the first time – a letter he sent to David Holdsworth, BBC controller in the eastern region, when he left the station last summer.

He told Mr Holdsworth, who is in charge of 39 local radio stations, that he was leaving Radio Cambridgeshire “partly because of the way the BBC has treated me but also due to the situation the station finds itself in”.

Mr Stainton told his former boss: “The shambolic nature of the management has culminated in a workforce that is uninspired, never empowered and constantly unsure of the right to do.”

He said ‘the plan’ when there was one “constantly changes like the wind and people bear the brunt”

Mr Stainton said there were different music policies for different times of the day but changes were randomly made and often young staff, with little training, were “pilloried for making mistakes”.

The former presenter, who joined BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in 1994 and now runs his own PR and production company, revealed last month some of the reasons he left.

“Despite record audiences my team and I were constantly told we were doing it wrong by the management, sometime whilst I was actually on air,” he said.

“This constant criticism often continued off air, for us and many others and was often delivered in private, away from prying eyes and ears - it often left people in a very demoralised state, sometimes in tears.

“It could be construed as a form of bullying and therefore I reported it to upper management, on four separate occasions - nothing really changed.”

He said his terms of employment also changed to short term contracts only, and a ban on doing outside work

“For this exclusivity the BBC were prepared to offer me £30,000 net per annum, no staff benefits, no holiday pay, no sick pay and no mileage - despite the constant threatened closure of the Peterborough studio and therefore a future 100 mile drive to Cambridge and back every day,” he said.

He added: “So, yes, I did ‘choose’ to leave the BBC, but it wasn’t a real choice - I am 51 and feel I deserved to be treated better by an organisation that I have shed blood, sweat and tears for, an organisation I still love.”

Following Mr Stainton’s departure, station manager David Harvey moved swiftly to announce re-arranged autumn schedules.

“BBC Radio Cambridge’s October line up offers variety, entertainment, information and Cambridgeshire people, places and stories throughout and we can’t wait to hear what the listeners think, ” he said.