talkSPORT and the centralised country

Written by Gareth Young on . Posted in Our blog

A quick question for you: What links talkSPORT, and local government?

I admit the link isn’t immediately apparent, and may exist only in my tiny mind but stick with me:

talkSPORT | the world's biggest sports radio station

I saw this headline pop up when listening to digital radio the other day and it genuinely surprised me. talkSPORT is a fairly big radio station but how is it possible that it is the biggest sports radio station in the whole world? When you think that Britain is a fairly small country (relatively), talkSPORT doesn’t have the rights to all of Britain’s sport (much of which is on fivelive) and as far as I am aware if you don’t have a digital radio the station is still marooned on medium wave.

However, the more I thought about it the more this makes sense. In many other countries their sports radio stations are regional; based around cities or teams or localities. They don’t have big sports radio stations because they don’t, I posit, have national sports radio stations.

This blog has, for many years, debated the peculiarly centralised British state, and argued that we need far more devolution to local councils and local people. This hasn’t really happened so far and despite words to the contrary from all governments doesn’t seem destined to happen any time soon (although we are more optimistic than ever).

Perhaps the same country that can tolerate, and indeed expects, the world’s largest sports radio station isn’t culturally suited to having significantly devolved local government. Indeed, if we exclude Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland I’m not sure there is any motivation to do anything much regionally at all. We don’t have regional banks, regional supermarkets, a regional health service, or much infrastructure that can be really described as regional. It even happens in art galleries where the Tate now has ‘branches’ in Cornwall and Merseyside.

From the use of the expression ‘postcode lottery’ to the centralised state as seen in Whitehall through to talkSPORT, of all stations, being a world beater, perhaps we are just a country that prefers to be centralised, to have one government and one set of rules for us all to follow. And if so, perhaps we should start to be more honest about the amount of devolution the public expect and the politicians expect to deliver.

Or perhaps I should stop reading so much into radio propaganda and instead start watching London Live?