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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Birthday advice for Radio 3 at 60
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Classical music forms a large part of Radio 3 programming
Experts, listeners and industry professionals offer their thoughts on Radio 3 as the BBC station marks the 60th anniversary of The Third Programme.

A piece of radio history was made on 29 September 1946 when The Third Programme began broadcasting from central London.

Described as "unique in freedom from routine and in acceptance of artistic responsibility", the network was incorporated within the fledgling Radio 3 in 1970.

Dedicated to classical music, world music, jazz and drama, the station has become a national institution that has attracted both praise and censure.

But what is it doing right, what is it doing wrong and what should it be doing more? A selection of leading figures from across the arts spectrum give their opinions.


Under Roger Wright's direction the mix of programming has become much more diverse and interesting.

What I admire, as an American, is its great sense of purpose and its commitment to quality.

There is one thing I'd love to see more of, though.

The BBC has a huge archive of music of all varieties, including a vast array of classical music. To open that up more to the public would be a great asset to the listeners.

Robert Van Leer is head of music at the Barbican Centre in London.


It's no exaggeration to say it's been one of the most formative cultural influences of my life.

It's educated, broadened and deepened our tastes, and I think many of us owe it a huge debt of gratitude.

What I would say is that it could have more confidence in the variety of its presenters.

I feel we hear the same voices too often.

Geoffrey Owen is head of artistic planning of Manchester's Halle Orchestra.


The fact you can eavesdrop on performances not just from England but from all over the world is one of its great strengths.

It doesn't have any gimmicks, which is how it should be. It presents the music and makes no apology for it.

For any artist established or up and coming, it's a badge of honour to perform on the station.

We're all aspiring to greatness, and the BBC gives us a platform for that.

John Gilhooly is director of the Wigmore Concert Hall, central London.


Radio 3 is for people who can take all four movements of a symphony. It's grown-up classical music.

And it's managed to keep up with the times and remain relevant to the world we live in.

But something that brings people a little closer to new music would be good to see in the future. It would be nice to see them tackle something really avant garde.

CD Review is a programme that might also benefit from a slight livening up. It's been in the same format for quite a while.

John Jolly is editor-in-chief of Gramophone Magazine.


For a long time jazz has been regarded a poorer cousin of classical music.

It's only due to people like Radio 3 giving it a platform that makes people realise that's not the case.

The station is known for bringing jazz to audiences, but there's nowhere near enough coverage.

I think a live broadcast of a night in a jazz club would be great. The essence of jazz is it's an improvisational art form - an organic thing.

Leo Green is music director of Ronnie Scott's jazz club, central London.


I think it's quite a triumph that Radio 3 still exists. It's still here 60 years on, basically doing the same things.

But it's getting less and less distinctive, which is a shame. It's under pressure to adopt a personality-led style because that's the way radio is right now.

They want to be bright and breezy and appear more attractive to a new audience.

But Radio 3 has an average age of 57, and you can't expect them to instantly adapt to a new range of thirtysomething presenters.

Friends of Radio 3 is a listeners' group which has no official connection with Radio 3 or the BBC.

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