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BBC Radio WM

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96.5 Dab Digital Radio in Birmingham.

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      17.08.2009 13:53
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      A lovely local radio station, one of the best I've encountered

      When I lived in Birmingham some years ago I discovered a delightful local BBC station, Radio WM which can be found 95.6 FM on 'old style' radios. Now, however, I listen online whenever I want to keep up date with what is happening in the Midlands. My late husband was a Brummie so even though I am living far away now I do still like to keep in touch with the area, I still have friends (and the odd relation) in the West Midlands and visit regularly so it's nice to be able to listen to their local station through my laptop.

      I'd say Radio WM is popular with people of a 'certain age'. Callers are generally of the older generation and much of the advice meted out by the presenters and their guests is geared towards issues such as pension rights, gardening, home security and other such matters. I was in my forties when I lived in Birmingham and started listening to Radio WM, I enjoyed it then but do find I appreciate it that little bit more now I'm in my sixties.

      The presenters are all very pleasant, there are one or two I'm not fond of but this would be the case with any of these BBC radio stations as they all employ the kind of bubbly characters that you will love or hate. Luckily I think most of them are excellent and there are no particular times of the day where I'd avoid listening because I don't like the host of the show. There are far too many to list so let me tell you a few off the top of my head, these happen to be my personal favourites for different reasons.

      A new presenter is Joanne Malin who is on in the mornings. She's absolutely lovely, one of the younger presenters and is in her forties I'd say which really should tell you that this radio station is not really geared towards the younger listener. I think Jo is great though, she's very bubbly and bright and is honestly a breath of fresh air for the site. There is absolutely nothing stuffy about her show and she discusses girly things like massages, Weight Watchers and dragging yourself to the gym.

      Ed Doolan is my absolute favourite though. He's been with the station for years and mainly tackles consumer issues; he is knowledgeable in his own right but also acts as a go between in certain cases, he has press officers in knots when they come on to defend their company but as they have usually made a huge gaffe Ed will contradict and confuse them until he gets them to admit their fault. He's an absolute star, an Australian in his sixties who is not afraid to speak his mind whatsoever and will happily read the consumer riot act to even the highest professional if they dare to defend shoddy work or services. At the risk of over egging the omelette, I find Ed to be most helpful when elderly callers ring into the show. His usual snappy demeanour changes to a caring conversational tone as he berates the state of the country with an old lady who has been mugged, or if someone has been charged for any bad service he knows who they should write to and what they should say.

      Another fabulous presenter is Danny Kelly, a straight talking Liverpudlian who likes a laugh with his listeners but isn't afraid to tackle the more serious issues either. I enjoy his shows because, like Joanne Malin, he is a complete change from the rest of the presenters on the station. He is so comical and tends to mainly discuss enjoyable subjects rather than looking on the depressing side. He is, apparently, a large man and is forever talking about food and the latest faddy diet - it was very funny recently when he lost weight on a Flab to Fab weight loss programme, only to reverse it the following week and see how much weight he could gain! He ate a 10,000 calorie breakfast from a café I know in Birmingham and can often he heard munching food on air when he calls a chef on as a guest! What a job, eh?

      The only one I can really think of that I can't seem to get on with is the early morning host, Phil Upton. He just doesn't appeal to me and seems to talk about himself too much for my liking, to be honest I usually have the news on television on in the morning so tend to avoid Phil Upton so can't really tell you what sort of show his is. In the past this breakfast show on WM has always been a mixture of music and gentle chat and he does seem perfect for the role, I think it's just that he seems a more commercial presenter than this type of BBC station needs.

      There are regular news, travel and weather bulletins throughout each show, all of which are given in a friendly and unhurried manner. The main news headlines are usually incorporated into the days shows anyway so you will always keep on top of what's happening, of course the news is almost entirely related to stories from Birmingham and the Black Country but the main national headlines are reported too.

      Some of the shows invite callers while others run mainly a text message service. I honestly prefer the shows which have people phoning in as listening to the wonderful Brummie accent is so much nicer than listening to a presenter read out impersonal email and texts.

      Radio WM play a range of music from Irish tunes and Gospel music to jazz and 70's hits, sometimes the occasional modern song will get through but it's rare! There isn't much music during the day, just the odd song to punctuate the chat and banter, but in the evening more is played with regular musical guests where their work is showcased throughout the show. It's mainly artists who have been well known in the past and are making a comeback but some of the upcoming music stars are given airtime, although what becomes of them after that who knows!

      During the football season the local matches are all covered. Just yesterday I listened to my late husband's beloved Aston Villa be beaten in their first game and today I could have heard the full match between Birmingham City and Man U - what a welcome to the Championship for Blues! One area of Radio WM that I have avoided of late was the coverage of The Ashes cricket tournament, Birmingham is rightly proud of their cricket ground in Edgbaston so there has been an awful lot of dull cricket talk recently - thank goodness the matches have moved on now!

      I completely recommend Radio WM to anyone who has links to Birmingham and the West Midlands. It's a fun station to listen to yet informative and friendly too. A wholehearted five stars from this far away listener.

      If you want to try it for yourself you can tune in on DAB or go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/local_radio/ and hear previous shows or listen to the station live.

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