Friends of Radio 3


The news pages are not currently being updated as Friends of Radio 3 is no longer active as a campaigning group.

BBC Radio 3

“In these days of ‘managerialism' and relentless commercial competition – not to mention the BBC’s own controversial attempts to compete with its commercial rivals – Radio 3 will continue to be at risk.” (Humphrey Carpenter, The Envy of the World)

From the time that the BBC Third Programme was first conceived – immediately after the war – as a cultural network for classical and other musics, for the spoken arts and for discussion on topics of cultural significance, there have been people needed, and ready, to defend its quality, range and scope from inimical cultural agendas.

The Third's successor, Radio 3, has also had to face threats to its intellectual integrity: FoR3 is no more than the latest (and longest-surviving) listener group established to defend this valuable BBC service.

May 19, 2017: Two steps forward, one step back

A poor RAJAR result for Quarter 1, but two very comfortable quarters last year mean that the yearly average for 2016/17 stands up well. More here …

June 15, 2017: Review: On This day

This year's annual BBC Music Day was not as awful as in past years. Radio 3 was allowed to do its own thing and offered six short dramatic monologues illustrating life-changing moments in the lives of six very different individuals, each one built round a piece of classical music. No compromising of Radio 3's unique purpose. More here …

Radio 3 listings: Andrew Slater's listings website has direct links to the iPlayer which function once the programme has been broadcast. There are also downloadable pdfs (in 6pt, 3 cols per page, and 8pt, 2 cols per page, depending how many pages you prefer). The listings will be automatically updated on Friday evenings and the website will gradually displace the old Mediafire archive.

Now iPlaying: Sunday Feature: Undine Smith Moore - The Dean of Black Women Composers

Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989) was a composer, teacher and force of nature. Samantha Ege uncovers how she continues to influence students and performers on a personal level.

Now iPlaying: Scottish Chamber Orchestra: The Lark Ascending

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and conductor Andrew Manze perform a concert of music by Vaughan Williams, celebrating his distinctly British sound and style.

Available until 9th August.

Now iPlaying: Camille

Pam Gems’s powerful stage play reimagining the story of La traviata. Stars Charithra Chandran as Camille. Adapted by Satinder Chohan who relocates the action from Paris to India.

Available until 30th July.

 Now iPlaying: Jazz Record Requests: Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival / Louie Bellson @100 / Helena Kay / Miles Davis

Alyn Shipton presents jazz records of all styles as requested by you with a focus on this year's Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.

Available until 6th August.

Thursday, 25 July 2024

Listeners say…
  • Radio 3 matters because it represents most clearly the BBC's mandate to do what commercial broadcasters never could. When Radio 3's confidence slips, it's a sign of something wrong at the BBC: and that matters to all of us.Robert Hanks
  • …it's the Alps and it really ought to be the Himalayas. Radio 3 remains an admirable station, but it could be an extraordinary, no-holds-barred station that is so ambitious and demanding it gives you a headache. That's the sort of station I want…Stephen Moss
  • While the Third's elevated approach may have been unrealistic, Radio 3's daily systole-diastole of chatty music sequences and more formal presentations, something for quarter-listeners, something for whole, is too obliging. A truly cultural radio station? Now that would be something to pin down.Paul Driver
  • A constant anxiety across Radio 3's 60 years, expressed in many voices, was what the network was for, what it was supposed to be doing, whether it should be a creator, a pacemaker, a "great aesthetic endeavour", offering "something larger to cling to". That argument persists. These days, I long for something larger to cling to in the way of philosophic and aesthetic discourse.Gillian Reynolds
  • In order to reach everyone, you have to go up-market as well as down.Janet Street-Porter
  • What everyone should be worrying about, however, is the loss of that old drip-feed of expert, uncondescending talk about music with which the BBC created and educated an audience in the first place. Will an informed audience even exist by 2030?Richard Osborne
  • While dedicated listeners, the ones who are devoting their whole attention to the radio, will always be a minority it is a minority that most of us belong to at least some of the time; and shouldn't broadcasters be aiming to please that minority rather than cultivating the majority's benevolent indifference?Robert Hanks
  • As a member of that part of the audience which wants undiluted, high-quality music and arts broadcasting I know that, at bottom, I have no right to demand it of Radio 3 or the BBC. Yet if the public broadcasting ethos is to continue to exist, then surely out of all the now 18 digital outlets which the BBC has, one reasonably small and cheap channel could be devoted to maintaining the not-necessarily popular or saleable high ground of culture.listener, Ayrshire
  • Most music stations consist largely of a succession of two- or three-hour programmes each presided over by a familiar presenter with lovable - or maddening — idiosyncracies playing a musical miscellany designed to meet as many tastes as possible. For R3 a more ambitious concept would be the return of subject-focused series and one-offs presented by an appropriate expert. Is the BBC no longer willing to pay for this level of quality?listener, Somerset
  • There is nothing more interesting and inspiring than to hear a knowledgeable and enthusiastic person talking about his or her own area of expertise; the most extraordinarily abstruse subjects can suddenly be opened up and rendered fascinating. Seriousness does not demand solemnity; wit, whether in the renaissance or the modern sense is to be welcomed; R3 should be the place where the difficult things can be done.listener, Yorkshire
  • Some thirty years ago my musical taste in the sixth form and at university was formed by listening to R3 (and its predecessor) in the evenings. I am convinced that a lifetime of pleasure would have been denied me if I had not had that opportunity. I am equally convinced that that opportunity has now been witheld from my sons who are just entering that same critical stage of their development.listener, Hampshire
  • They tell us we are an ageing 'audience profile', and no doubt we are. But they never ask themselves how we all came to that ultimate nirvana which used to be Radio 3. We were either introduced to it in our infancy, or perhaps stumbled on it when channel hopping… whatever, we came to it through choice. For most of us, part of its attraction was assuredly because it seemed a secret garden of delight, a parallel world almost. And one comes to it when the time is right.listener, Dorset
  • The old Third is still pretty green in my memory. I was about 15 when it started and thus of that generation (working class, grammar school boy in Nottingham in my case) for whom it was a revelation. A series I especially remember was 'The Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians', in 48 parts. Can you credit it? And all reprinted in The Listener too. Since we can't have the original Third Programme back, at least let R3 be as good as possible.listener, Hertfordshire
  • My earliest acquaintance with almost all the great plays of the past was owing to broadcasts on the Third Programme. During my years of 'O' and 'A' levels I had such a valuable resource in that programme. So many performances have stayed with me all through my life: Wolfit in John Gabriel Borkman and The Dance of Death, Richardson as Shotover, partnered by Edith Evans, Patrick Wymark as Coriolanus, Gielgud as Hamlet, so many, many. What is there now for a young person, as I was then?listener, Shropshire
  • As a teenager in the 1980s I discovered classical music through R3 and I find it difficult now not to regard that period as a golden age. Its tone was classless, ageless and uncondescending — a radio station aimed at intelligent adults.listener, Cambridge
  • The whole point of art and culture is that it is not entertainment, doesn't aspire to be, and has good reason not to become so. That may mean it reaches a smaller number of people; but then, comparing the numbers attending the latest blockbuster film with the numbers visiting a remote provincial art gallery doesn't tell us anything about the artistic integrity of a nation's artists (or musicians): it merely informs us that most people sometimes want to be entertained.listener, Outer Hebrides
  • One problem the BBC seems to have is that it does not realise that scheduling and variety are also important…There are some who are beginning to think that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. While a yearly programme of classical hits selected by Rambling Sid Rumpole might be very entertaining, if this were put out every day from 10am to 1pm this could get monotonous.listener, London
  • I have been listening to Radio 3 on an almost daily basis since I was a teenager in the late 1980s. I have no formal musical education and over the years it has played a huge, and hugely pleasurable, role in broadening my cultural horizons and introducing me to many different areas of music. I have been angered for some time by the steady change in the station's presentation and content.listener, London
  • I look forward to joining the campaign to raise standards. Radio 3 is hugely important to me and has been for over forty years when I first listened to The Young Idea and Christopher Hogwood on a Friday afternoon. Completely changed my life and introduced a working class boy, with no musical education to a new thrilling world.listener, Blackpool
  • Is there going to be a FoR3 response regarding Discovering Music? Can't believe they are going to axe this. Stephen Johnson is superlative in his broadcasting - exactly the right blend of knowledge and enthusiasm.listener, London
  • More likely than not I'll listen to Through the Night on the iPlayer. It seems to be the only programme left that gives short, intelligent introductions to the music, and then just plays whole pieces, leaving the music to speak for itself. That and Jazz Record Requests.listener, Devon
  • Radio 3 used to reliably educate me, presenting music new to my ears, with informed, scholarly commentary. Its coverage of progressive 20th and 21st Century music is now very scarce of course.listener, Cotswolds
  • Radio 3 has been my companion for thirty-five years. Its identity - once synonymous with quiet dignity and thought-provoking broadcasting - has been eroded, and anyone who cares about the cultural and intellectual health of the nation must be made aware of just how perilously rapid that erosion has become.listener, Manchester

Radio 3 Forum:

Hot topic, BaL 13.07.24 - Shostakovich: Symphony 5