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Human Risk on the Radio

Human Risk appeared in radio form earlier today, as a mic mix-up resulted in the F-Bomb being broadcast live on the BBC.

To hear the clip and gain some fascinating insights, I highly recommend you read this blog by radio industry expert David Lloyd.

Four elements highlighted by David in his blog post entitled It’s XXXXXXX Cold In This Studio, make this fascinating from a Human Risk perspective:

Firstly, “the risk of something intruding into the transmission chain is high“. In other words, a known risk, with a high likelihood of occurrence.

Secondly, “this was a serious risk. A newsperson could well have been talking about a matter of political and industrial controversy rather than just uttering a swear word and rehearsing a script.”

Thirdly, it has happened at the BBC before.

Finally, and most damningly, as a result of the previous incident changes, “BBC staff suffer ludicrous compliance systems relating to the vetting of often highly innocuous low-risk recorded programmes“. In other words, the response to the previous incident led to a box-ticking solution which, ironically, makes it more rather than less, likely to happen.

David is commentating from an industry-insider perspective. But he’s also nicely analysed a classic case of Human Risk in action. Both in this incident and in the environment that facilitated it. He’s also made some pragmatic recommendations about how it should be handled.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given radio is a people business, David has a good grasp on the dynamics of Human Risk. I really liked this articulation:

“We are human. That’s why we are employed. And human beings make mistakes.”

When you’ve finished reading his post and listening to the clip, do check out his other

Readers, particularly those who grew up in the UK, who have any interest in radio at all, will enjoy David’s Radio Moments podcasts. Aspiring podcasters will also learn a lot from his new Radio Secrets book, which I read whilst preparing to launch mine.


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