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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES: 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. 5. If one topic or question threatens to overwhelm the webchat, MNHQ will usually ask for people to stop repeating the same question or point.

MNHQ have commented on this thread

Webchat with Justin Webb on 8th March at 1pm about his new book The Gift of A Radio
67

JuliaMumsnet · 07/03/2022 12:37

Hello

We’re delighted to announce a webchat tomorrow, Tuesday 8 March, with radio presenter Justin Webb about his new book The Gift of A Radio: My Childhood and other Train Wrecks (Penguin 2022). Justin Webb is the longest serving presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme ‘Today.’ For the best part of four decades, he has been a voice on the airwaves or a presence on our TV screens. Among his awards is Political Journalist of the Year, which he won for his coverage of the Obama presidential campaign. He’s a regular columnist in The Times and for the Unherd website.

The blurb of Justin’s book: “Justin Webb’s childhood was far from ordinary. “The TV news came on and a lugubrious-looking chap in a light coloured suit with a deep, plummy voice said something about the balance of payments. ‘That’s your father’, my mother said, quite unprompted.”

Between his mother’s un-diagnosed psychological problems, and his step-father’s untreated ones, life at home was dysfunctional at best. But with gun-wielding school masters and substandard living conditions, Quaker boarding school wasn’t much better.
And the backdrop to this coming of age story? Britain in the 1970s. Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Free. Strikes, inflation and IRA bombings. A time in which attitudes towards mental illness, parenting and masculinity were worlds apart from the attitudes we have today. A society that believed itself to be close to the edge of breakdown.

Justin will be joining us live tomorrow, Tuesday 8 March from 1pm for an hour. If you can’t join us then, please do post your question here in advance.

As always, please remember our webchat guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

Webchat with Justin Webb on 8th March at 1pm about his new book The Gift of A Radio Webchat with Justin Webb on 8th March at 1pm about his new book The Gift of A Radio
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bellinisurge · 07/03/2022 13:22

As 8 March is International Women's Day, how difficult has it been for you to challenge the gender identity belief system in your work on R4? Do you think that your journalism helped unshackle BBC from Stonewall?

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Opal8 · 07/03/2022 13:47

@bellinisurge

As 8 March is International Women's Day, how difficult has it been for you to challenge the gender identity belief system in your work on R4? Do you think that your journalism helped unshackle BBC from Stonewall?

Yes
This ^
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Masdintle · 07/03/2022 15:03

I'd like to second bellini's question too. I guess that's thirding it Grin

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SarahHasaBlackCat · 07/03/2022 15:04

Hi Justin - I'm sorry but I have what seems like a very daft question (its something I always wonder about when I'm listening to the Today programme!). How do you arrange your life to suit the early starts? Do you nap in the afternoon? Do you go to bed at 7pm? And on the days when you're not on does your routine change dramatically??
Thanks! And sorry again that its a bit frivolous...

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Masdintle · 07/03/2022 15:04

And thanks for what you do, Mr Webb

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MrsIglesias · 07/03/2022 15:13

Thank you for this Justin. I was interested to hear you went to a quaker boarding school though was sorry to hear it doesn't sound very safe or happy. How do you think your time there influenced who you are as a person and your values? Have you ever practiced quakerism yourself since?

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senua · 07/03/2022 15:26

Can I just say that your interview with Ben Cohen last June was brilliant. Many thanks to you and Nick Robinson for all the pushback you do.Smile It's due to you two that I have started listening to the Today programme again.

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Iknowitisheresomewhere · 07/03/2022 17:48

Hi Justin - can I ask how much notice you get about who you will be interviewing and how you prepare for the interviews? I am another fan of your probing questions on questions of single sex spaces.

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Bialystockandbloom · 07/03/2022 20:43

Hello Justin

I'd love to know how much editorial freedom you're allowed on the Today programme. It seems (from you, and Nick Robinson) you are more free from stonewall capture having to stick with party lines than elsewhere within BBC News. Does the editor and production team let you have free rein as presenters?

Heartfelt thanks for the clarity you bring to the sex/gender debate, you cut right through the emotionally manipulative bullshit and obfuscation and get to the heart of the matter each time.

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LadyHaversham · 07/03/2022 23:19

My daughter currently attends a Quaker boarding school and she enjoys it very much. In fact, she is flourishing there, in no small part due to the Quaker ethos. My father attended the same school, however, and had a different experience.

Would you acknowledge that it was the societal values of the time that led to boarding schools being harsher places than they are now, coupled with an individual school’s culture instigated by the incumbent Headmaster, rather than Quakerism itself?

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Clymene · 07/03/2022 23:53

Hi Justin - As you've been presenting Today for so long, how have things shifted now you have more women and people of colour on the team? Do you notice a difference in the way interviewees respond? How does it impact the dynamics of the programme if at all? (sorry, that's two questions!)

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BoreOfWhabylon · 08/03/2022 03:28

@senua

Can I just say that your interview with Ben Cohen last June was brilliant. Many thanks to you and Nick Robinson for all the pushback you do.Smile It's due to you two that I have started listening to the Today programme again.

This.

Thank you Justin
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borntobequiet · 08/03/2022 08:11

Hello Justin. I do appreciate your questioning style on Today - polite but persistent with relatively few interruptions. My question: do politicians in high office (and in general, I suppose) get special training in not answering questions, or do they get to high office through their natural ability to avoid doing so?

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ThinWomansBrain · 08/03/2022 10:18

Listening to the Today program's Ukraine coverage this morning, I was struck by how much more powerful narrated descriptions are compared to television news - even without the gory footage & images.
How do you feel about the impact of news reporting on radio to television - and which do you prefer?

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Poppies26 · 08/03/2022 10:51

Hi Justin, do you still feel that the BBC is anti American in its reporting? Thank you.

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User237845 · 08/03/2022 10:59

I would like to know the answer to the sleep question too please, but my question is:

I admire your ability to sound noncombative, almost chatty, whilst asking incisive, challenging questions. Do you do this naturally or have you had to train yourself not to sound/be more aggressive? I think it is a real gift in an interviewer.

Thanks also for being one of the first in the BBC to question prevailing gender ideology and its threats to women's rights.

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FreezerBird · 08/03/2022 11:27

Echoing the points and thanks above on your engagement with issue are single sex spaces etc.

Off-piste and light heartedly, do you have any insights into what on earth has happened to Bath Rugby?! Followed them through the late 80s and early 90s when I lived locally and they were a force to be reckoned with. Started to pick up an interest in club rugby again quite recently and was genuinely shocked...

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Bindles · 08/03/2022 11:40

Hi Justin
Great to have you here. Do you get frustrated that you get to interview fascinating guests but have so little time to explore issues? Do you have any control over this? Are there questions you have to get through or can you choose to probe and follow up properly? They are clearly coached to evade the first few attempts to get clarity on sticky issues.
I really appreciate your balance of forensic and conversational.

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limebasilandmandarin · 08/03/2022 12:36

Hi Justin, thanks so much for doing this chat. Your book is obviously about a pretty brutal and difficult childhood, and tbh before it came out I think because of your professional success and well spoken-ness I would have assumed that you came from a typical privileged background (which is of course my bad). Was part of wanting to write a book with such honesty about your upbringing motivated in any way by countering that sort of perception? Particularly in light of recent attacks on the BBC for being too posh, too nepotistic etc?

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PigeonLittle · 08/03/2022 12:38

I read your story recently, and look forward to your book, it sounds like you've overcome great adversity. As I get older I am more curious about the artform of radio compared to TV. What's made you stick with radio?

Grateful for your commitment to independent broadcasting. Thank you.

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JustineMumsnet · 08/03/2022 12:56

Hi all, Justin's in the building and ready to go! So we'll be kicking off in just a minute or two...

Webchat with Justin Webb on 8th March at 1pm about his new book The Gift of A Radio
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JustinWebb · 08/03/2022 13:00

Hello everyone thanks so much for joining me and asking the questions already asked! I'm delighted to be doing this -- ask anything. Answers will be BBC cautious a bit on some things I guess but when it comes to the issues in the book I can and will say what I think ...Smile

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JustinWebb · 08/03/2022 13:04

@LadyHaversham

My daughter currently attends a Quaker boarding school and she enjoys it very much. In fact, she is flourishing there, in no small part due to the Quaker ethos. My father attended the same school, however, and had a different experience.

Would you acknowledge that it was the societal values of the time that led to boarding schools being harsher places than they are now, coupled with an individual school’s culture instigated by the incumbent Headmaster, rather than Quakerism itself?

Absolutely it was the 70s. just a strange period in our history which is in part at least why I wrote the book, to ask the question why? And to be honest most of it is more about my family circs than the Quakers. Quakerism is not blamed at all except in a kind of drive by way as all the 70s is ...
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Masdintle · 08/03/2022 13:04

Welcome Justin

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BoreOfWhabylon · 08/03/2022 13:05

Welcome Justin!

Who have been your most memorable interviewees? (The good, the bad and the ugly)

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