I wish I had had Danny Baker’s balls 12 years ago when the BBC axed me, though if I had gone on a three-hour rant on air, the consequences would have been devastating.
I was a Radio Derby employee who, like Danny, suffered at the hands of ‘pin-headed weasel management.’ 13 years ago, I won a Silver Sony Radio award. 18 months later, my producer post was axed by the manager Mike Bettison as a bid to force me me into redundancy. The fact that he was kicking in the teeth 23 years of experience, expertise and enthusiasm made me realise that this was a man NO ONE should be working for, let alone me. Because I told the local newspaper that I was ‘crushed’ and ‘devastated’, Bettison threatened me with the loss of my redundancy. Then, because I ranted informally to a pal who ran the Classic Rock Society, he went and published my words in the Society mag. Even though this was a very, very minor publication, another level of management reported this to Bettison and, as a result, I had to attend a disciplinary hearing.
I spent a few terribly anxious weeks fearing that Bettison would achieve his aim of stopping my redundancy pay. I shall never forget – or forgive – the anguish he put me through. In the end, if i recall rightly, I was effectively warned about my future behaviour and put on the BBC naughty step for six months which was ludicrous considering I was about to leave within weeks.
I do wonder, though, having heard Danny Baker’s extraordinary rant on Radio London, if the rules have changed. If I had done that in 2000, I feel sure I would have lost my redundancy at the very least. If the rules haven’t changed – and I feel sure they haven’t – should then the weasels come down hard on Danny Baker? I doubt it: he’s back on air on Radio 5 tomorrow. I love Danny – one of the finest broadcasters of our time – but it does seem like one rule for one and one for another…