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The Stirrer’s Talk-In Radio Blog (2)

PUBLIC APPETITE REMAINS UN-JADED

28-02-2009

How far should a presenter go in criticising a terminally ill woman? Stirrer editor and Talksport presenter Adrian Goldberg considers phone-in etiquette.

No doubt about – the biggest story of the week, at least judged by phone-in response to my Talksport show – was Jade Goody’s wedding to Jack Tweed.

The photo rights were apparently sold to a celebrity magazine for £700,000 – and as a teaser, selected pics were released to the papers last weekend.

Normally, I’d consider it bad form to criticise a dying woman on the radio, but the beatification of Jade was simply irresistible I’m afraid.

This is a woman, remember, whose most significant career moment was flashing her breasts on Big Brother; or at least it was, until she racially abused Shilpa Shetty on the celebrity version of the same show.

We didn't like her very much, did we? But all of a sudden, there’s a horrible, emerging media consensus that she’s been transformed into a saint – like some chavvy Princess Diana, who can’t be criticised.

So, having vowed not to repeat my distaste for all the premature shroud waving after first raising it on my Talksport show four or five weeks ago, I found myself unable to resist the temptation on Tuesday morning.

Yes, I sympathise with her plight and feel for her kids – who wouldn’t? But I resent having my emotions crudely manipulated, even by a terminally ill cancer patient.

Within 20 minutes I’d had my first abusive call. A listener accused me of being hypocritical and showing a lack of humanity; another piled in with a similar views shortly afterwards.

Had I misjudged the views of my audience?

Not a bit of it. For every critical caller, I had five leaping to my defence – a reassuring sign that the British public remain as fiercely independent of tabloid manipulation as ever.

I emphasised throughout that I wished nothing but happiness for Jade (note the first name familiarity) and hope against hope that she recovers; but I simply don’t buy the claim that she needs to drag her ordeal through the red tops in order to raise cash for her kids.

Goody is already enormously wealthy having lent her name to a hugely successful fragrance; and in any case, Britain is (thankfully) not a country where the loss of parent forces kids to go panhandling on street corners.

Clearly, I'm not the only one taken in.

The papers were much closer to the public mood in their decision to pillory Sir Fred Goodwin, the RBS boss who won’t give up his pension.

I took the view that although his £17million pension pot was obscene in view of his failure, it was part of his agreed departure package and so should be honoured.

Look at the systemic failures that allowed him to be rewarded for failure I said.

Even here, I’d say the audience was split 50/50 – whereas in the Jade case in was more like 80/20 in my favour.

Either way, both discussions proved to me when it comes to assessing the national mood, the phone-in is a far more accurate barometer of the national mood than a collection of newspaper headlines.

TOP FIVE PHONE-IN TOPICS THIS WEEK

  1. JADE GOODY
  2. 1 IN 9 PEOPLE IN BRITAIN IS A FOREIGNER
  3. FRED THE SHRED’S PENSION
  4. TOP BRITISH TV ACTORS AND ACTRESSES (FOLLOWING DEATH OF WENDY RICHARD)
  5. BRITISH JIHADIS IN AFGHANISTAN

Adrian Goldberg presents “The Biggest Phone-In On British Radio” between 1am-6am on Talksport 1053-1089 AM, Tuesday-Friday. All views expressed are his own, and not those of the radio station.

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