Suffolk: Let’s save Brian Mann’s Radio Suffolk show!

SUFFOLK: A rallying call is being transmitted across the county today as The Evening Star urges readers and music-lovers to Stand by your Mann!

Country fans throughout Suffolk are dejected by the demise of a popular country music DJ’s weekly show.

The axing of Brian Mann’s local BBC Radio programme has upset regular listeners – with one calling it “the death of country music in Suffolk”.

As revealed in yesterday’s Star, his show will finish after 21 years at the end of March and be replaced by a syndicated country music programme broadcasting across East Anglia from Essex.

Tim Albins, chairman of the Ipswich Country and Western Club, based at Bridge Ward Social Club, said: “Brian is the voice of local country music. He’s almost an institution.

“The BBC wants him to go out with a whimper, but we can’t let that happen.

“You can’t cover four counties and remain a local radio station. We’ll end up with a watered-down version of what we already have.

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“More than half our members listen to Brian, so audience figures will drop. We want the BBC to know the strength of feeling among us.”

Mr Mann said the decision was announced in country music magazines at the start of the year that BBC Radio Essex presenter Steve Cherelle would be hosting a syndicated country show.

The news was confirmed by bosses at the end of January that the 64-year-old from Ipswich, who has presented the programme since the station launched in 1990, was to be replaced.

John Spooner, who runs the Stour Border Country Music Club, called the move “disgraceful” and said he would no longer be tuning in.

“Radio Suffolk have ditched us,” added Mr Spooner.

“It’s a big loss to the county – which no longer seems to have a local radio station.”

A BBC spokesman has said it was “difficult” decision to make, but that the corporation had to ensure the best value for money for fee-payers.

He added: “Brian’s been a big part of BBC Radio Suffolk for many years and he will continue to present special programmes through the year.

“Steve Cherelle already broadcasts to three other radio stations in our region on a Sunday afternoon and he has a proven track record of presenting and working within the country music community.

He will continue to provide local gig and event information for Suffolk.”

n Should BBC Radio Suffolk stand by their Mann? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail evening starletters@eveningstar.co.uk

n Opinion – page 6

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