This season of goodwill and all it embraces hardly equates with the savage butchery carried out by what used to be taken as one of our nation’s most revered and respected institutions.

I refer, of course, to the BBC’s shameful desecration of a local radio network with a long and proven track record as a powerful force for good in so many communities across the country, including Norfolk and Suffolk.

Yes,  I have personal baggage to declare as a founder-member of the Radio Norfolk team assembled to launch  the 21st local station in 1980 out of an eventual list of 39.

Now all are being forced to face a torrent of cuts and redundancies ripping the heart out of a format flourishing since 1967.

After a testing crash course in technology with far more talented colleagues. several of them bringing handy broadcasting experience,  my home-made credentials honed on a lengthy stint as local journalist brought the chance to present the Dinnertime Show for nearly 15 years from a Norfolk Tower studio I dubbed Cell 33.

This programme packed with colourful local personalities revelled  in our dialect, history, humour, folklore, literature and an unashamedly parochial fervour for fighting Norfolk’s corner by holding to account those deemed responsible for decisions likely to endanger this county’s precious environment and much-envied characteristics.

I ruffled a few feathers in high places for speaking my mind, not least among BBC management at all levels when preening, patronising and prevaricating tended to smother what I deemed a fundamental approach to authentic “local” values.

Matters came to a head when time was called on my cherished role as a midday mardler, a verdict met with a deluge of protests from loyal listeners, and invited to take a seat on the “back benches” as a weekend evening broadcaster,,

To cut a lengthy and acrimonious final chapter  short, I left to concentrate on helping my wonderfully supportive  wife bring up our two young sons by the sea and pursue a freelance career as writer, mardler at all kinds of functions and leader of the Press Gang troupe of home-grown entertainers for fundraising shows in village halls and other community meeting places with regular collections for the EDP We Care Appeal.

I hosted productions of All Preachers Great and Small in local churches to help swell coffers for vital restoration work and served for 16 years as a deputy lieutenant of Norfolk, a role offering many chances to revisit a world of “movers and shakers”  for meaningful debates as encountered in those days domiciled in Cell 33.

I owe big debts to local newspapers and local wireless, when both at their peak, for nourishing my Norfolk roots with enduring pride in a place where a parochial renegade can exist with impunity and also flourish without apology as dew diffrunt sunshine still bursts through dull clouds of uniformity. 

Happily, several colleagues from both callings keep in close touch for reflective  sessions rounded off by a traditional verdict from those of a certain vintage connected with most trades and professions: “Reckon we had the best of it!”

It’s hard to keep a sense of old-fashioned  perspective during an era of widespread radical changes in so many workplaces and more gruelling challenges swept in by the Covid pandemic, cost-of-living crisis, global upheaval and feverish speculation over our forthcoming general election.

Even so, I know from bike-and-notebook press reporting rounds and talking on air to people and places on my own wavelength just how important these exclusively local links can be to many readers and listeners, especially those living in remote areas or on their own.

That’s not romantic twaddle and such sentiments must have been at the centre of BBC thinking when local radio first became available to all kinds of communities from 1967 onwards, stretching out to parts all the others could not reach.

Radio Norfolk was born out of the demise of regional offering Roundabout East Anglia, a victim of economy cuts .. and here we are four and a bit decades later watching another brutal swing of the BBC axe in the hallowed names of vital savings and pursuing  a younger audience with online attractions more akin to a digital age.

Director-general Tim Davie eventually came out of capital hiding to provide some sort of regret and explanation for what had clearly been decided some time ago. He insists the cuts are the “right thing” despite being “very difficult and unpopular.”

They had to make such a painful choice because they din’t have the funds “to keep everything whole.”

There have been strikes and protests aplenty among those directly affected across the country with some departing presenters giving emotional on-air messages  as it becomes obvious how painful goodbyes mean contacts and community connections built up over years are being lost.

A grisly demolition job, no less than a callous insult to local radio pioneers and those who followed, ought to send shudders of guilt and remorse through the corridors of power.

You never know, perhaps in 50 or 60 years’ time some bright spark may come up with a proper apology and exciting idea of reviving something that really worked in the good old days,

They’ll call it a “wattsapp satellite service” as small stations zip around dear old Auntie BBC, still the brightest star in a fast-changing celestial media firmament.