When I came back home to Wales in 2002, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the BBC in Cardiff to take part in a discussion programme about the European Union. I’d had a bit of broadcasting experience in France so I was excited to have the opportunity to go on with this.
Since then, I have been asked to contribute regularly a short item called ‘Wednesday Word’ in a BBC Radio Wales general chat and music show presented first by Roy Noble, then by Louise Elliot and now Eleri Sion.
The brief is to speak for about two and a half minutes on an interesting topic – perhaps an anniversary or a personal experience or an event in the news – and bring in a spiritual dimension in a way casual listeners can relate with. Maybe people will think the content of the talks is pretty light but they should remember the nature of the programme: this is not a sermon.
It’s a surprisingly exacting discipline to come up with those 450 words and the training given by the producers is invaluable because they teach you how to stick to one theme with no digression possible in such a short space. I’m particularly grateful to Karen Walker for friendship and guidance over many years.
I have also contributed quite a large number of scripts to the BBC Radio 2 slot ‘Pause for Thought’ although, interestingly, audience feedback has been far less common in spite of a much bigger pool of listeners. BBC Radio Wales is true local radio for the Principality and many people in communities up and down the country tune in for companionship. As I walk around the village after one of these broadcasts I sometimes get the impression that the whole place has Radio Wales on in the background all the time!
Over the years, I’ve spoken a number of times from the field at the Royal Welsh Show with Roy Noble, Eleri Sion and Wynne Evans and on a memorable occasion gave the Christmas message at the BBC Christmas service recorded at the St David’s Hall in Cardiff. A few times the outside broadcast team came to our chapel in Raglan to record a couple of services to go out on a Sunday morning.
All in all, this has been a good sideline in ministry and I’m always happy to get the call – ‘Rob, are you able to do the “Wednesday Word”, this week’?
Please read on to see the first example of one of these talks, about David Bowie.