As you will have no doubt heard, the Three Legends show has been axed.
After 13 years of record-breaking radio shows that have put bums on seats across the region and brought in lord knows how much in advertising cash, myself, Micky Horswill and Malcolm MacDonald have been given the elbow.
That’s cruel. Obviously we are all very disappointed because we loved doing the job and all think we were doing it well.
It was real shock, not least because me and Micky were still jet-lagged. We had barely touched down after a holiday in Australia when we got called into the offices in Newcastle and were told that’s it, your contracts are terminated as of now. Welcome back to England. Thanks and goodbye.
We’ve made our opinions known to the station chiefs as you can imagine but it is a done deal. We’re out.
And it is not because of audience figures, whatever the official statement says. Real Radio announced on their website that was the reason.And yes, our figures were down measured against the massive highs of when we first started 13 years ago – but radio audiences have gone down right across the industry.You can only measure us on the audiences we get now and in our time slot and in our region right now there is nobody even close to us.
Check out the RAJAR figures. The Three Legends is still the number one show on the Real Radio network right across the country, just as we were when it was Century Radio.The Three Legends is the number one show of any type and in any time slot in the region on commercial or the BBC.And the Three Legends is the number one show in the whole country in the 6-8pm slot. We have more listeners than TalkSport, Five Live and any show on any local station you care to name. We delivered.
So yes, we had dipped from the record breaking highs of 10 years ago – but we’re still top.And the statement said the decline in audience was partly down to social media – but we were bang up to date with that technology. We were quick to build readers e-mails, then Facebook, then Twitter into the show. We were getting the best out of social media. The station chiefs were delighted.
But hey, it is a cut-throat world. We know that. We’ve all been in football. And radio is no different to a lot of other industries right now that are making cuts, rationalising and downsizing and getting rid of staff and making changes that don’t suit the customer but only suit the money men.
Real is being bought out by Capital Radio who own half of the commercial radio in the UK. What we do doesn’t suit what they do which is wall to wall chart music like Adele and Rhianna. It’s cheap to make, can be done nationally and its aimed at a younger and mainly female audience. I don’t think we three old guys will fit in.
So we are out. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you do your job, if the big picture changes, you’re out.
And it’s happened before to me. It reminds of when I was doing commentary on the Boro with Ali Brownlee. I had done 500 plus games with the station and we’d just won some big international broadcasting industry award in New York for our work following Boro to the UEFA Cup final – then we had the plug pulled on us! And they say lightning doesn’t strike twice!
My biggest regret is not being able to say goodbye to the brilliant and loyal audience we have built up over the years.
I can’t say how genuinely I mean that. I know the show has its knockers and a lot of people don’t like it – but hundreds of thousands of football fans across the North-east do. They love it. They love to listen and they love to take part.And that is what has made the show such a success: the listeners; the people who call in or e-mail, or tweet, or stop us in the street and give us their opinion on their team.There have been plenty of football shows. Any ex-player can talk about the game. But what made the Legends was the interplay with listeners.
I think the three of us have big personalities and big opinions and you get no club propaganda or bull from any of us. We call it as we see it and sometimes that upsets people but we are all honest blokes we care about our clubs.But more importantly we also know what football is really about: it’s about the fans. It’s about how supporters feel about their team, how your emotions change from week to week depending on the result and it’s about good natured banter between rivals. We encouraged all those things with the listeners.We encouraged callers to tease each other and us too. We dished it out and we could take it too. We made it fun and people responded. The show developed a life of its own with the theme tunes and catchphrases and the wind-ups.
That is why it broke records for audience figures and why other people tried to copy it. They rolled the format out across the Century and Real Radio networks in a lot of different regions and even the BBC in Teesside and Tyneside tried their own versions but no-one got within a mile of us.
So it is very, very disappointing that something that was being enjoyed by so many people has been scrapped so suddenly. It was a great show to do. And there’s still plenty of mileage in a show like that – and there will be so long as passionate fans in this region care about their club.
So, believe me, you haven’t heard the last of us. Boro fans definitely haven’t heard the last of Bernie Slaven. No way.
I hope we can do something in some shape or form to keep the Three Legends alive.We are talking over a few ideas at the moment and you can sure that whatever happens Boro fans will be the first to know via the Evening Gazette and my website.
Watch this space.
Thanks to Evening Gazette.