For 20 years Julian Clegg’s breakfast show on BBC Radio Solent has been at the heart of the local community.
Like most local morning shows there is the usual mix of local and international news along with the weather, sport and traffic updates but the USP of Julian Clegg show has always been the ready platform it has provided for listeners who might want to come into the studio, or else play host to the radio car, in order to talk about a hobby or interest or to highlight an issue or campaign they are involved in.
Last Friday many of these guests – or “Julian’s People” as he calls them – descended on the Mayflower Theatre to celebrate the career of the man who started his own brand of ‘citizen journalism’ on local airwaves before anybody else had figured out what it was or why it was needed.
Several hundred people travelled from all over Hampshire and Dorset to fill out the theatre stalls and take part in a special live broadcast to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary.
The three-hour unrehearsed show was more like a Birthday party with traffic announcements . Presents included Clegg staples of Ricicles and pickled walnuts and a cake was wheeled on in the shape of an outsized Reithian era BBC microphone.
At the end of the show Clegg received a standing ovation and a rousing chorus of ‘for he’s a jolly good fellow’ and he took the opportunity to thanks his team, past and present and the listeners for making the show the success it has been.
Throughout the broadcast there were contributions from may loyal Eastleigh listeners including local songsmith Stuart Jebbitt who took to the stage to sing a song he had written for the occasion.
Afterward the presenter told me that he liked to give equal airtime to towns and outlying districts not just the big regional cities.
“We’ve done lots of shows from Eastleigh, we’ve done election shows from there and we’ve done by-elections.
“Eastleigh is a key part of our area, its railway history is crucial as well. When we do features about the railway that always comes up.
It’s not forgotten because all too often big cities can dominate their neighbors by their nature so although we love Portsmouth we also want to talk about Havant and Gosport as well. We love Southampton too but we also want to talk about Totton and Eastleigh because all those places really matter.
“Today as been unique, I’ve never done a show like this before in 33 years at the BBC and certainly 20 years at Solent. We’ve done shows with listeners and done shows from cafes and pubs but we’ve never done the show on stage – it’s a first.”