To my great surprise, I've just had a phone call from Bob McDowall. To my even greater surprise, it was a long, constructive conversation about the show, the issues and Radio 2 in general. He said a lot of things that I suspect would be heard sympathetically by a lot of his harshest critics, and he said that he'd love to say them in public, but that he was unable to make any definitive statements until he's talked to Bob Shennan (currently on holiday) about the situation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Mail story is not quite how he remembers what happened, and I know the problems involved in relying on a single source, so a contrary view is always instructive. What he did say, though, was that he genuinely didn't want Malcolm to leave and that he was and is looking for ways to incorporate relevant dance band music into the programme. He also corrected some of my assertions about gram library usage, which I'm happy to take on board - the process of transferring rare material for use in programmes is ongoing, and his view is that he's happy to spend whatever it costs to do the programme right. The information that he's an ex-BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra musician goes some way to scotching (no pun, etc) the idea that he's a faceless bureaucrat, meddling in perfectly good programmes.
Anyway, I'll be continuing to lobby for BBC Radio 2 to reinstate its commitment to dance band music, but I'll be easing off on Bob McDowall, in hopes that, when he and his programme team have had time to regroup, they'll confound all of the critics.