Sad End Of An Era

I was disappointed to hear that Keith Arthur has given up his role as the presenter of ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ on TalkSPORT radio although you cannot blame him. Bad enough his show had been slashed from 2 hours to just one hour, but to then reschedule it in the 5am graveyard slot was a step too far for Keith and it will be for many of its listeners, me included. Keith was right to go now because the only folk likely to listen or phone in at 5am are insomniacs and cranks. I won’t be one of them.

Keith Arthur 1

I tend to be a creature of habit and because my good lady sets her alarm for 6am during the week I regularly wake up at 6am on weekends. No complaints here, there’s fishing on the radio! I plug my Robbie into the Ipod, bung in some earphones, tune to talkSPORT and for the next two hours I can drift in and out of consciousness while listening to the show. And let’s be perfectly honest, if you want to drift back to the land of nod there are no better callers to send you there than the likes of ‘John from Enderby’.

In its 2-hour format the show was far too long for the actual content. I take my hat off to ‘Kendra’ but let us be realistic, it’s only the kids’ parents who want to hear the result of an under-9’s match on the Colour Pond. I certainly couldn’t give a damn and I doubt anyone else did. Keys and Gray don’t include a report on Armthorpe Miners Welfare Juniors football match with Rossington Rangers Colts in their show, now do they?

Then we have to listen to a report on what the Angling Projects folk have been up to which is usually nothing earth shattering. Hang on, that sounds really harsh and were I in there shoes I’d snatch every opportunity to gain airtime but it’s a parochial thing. Really, I don’t care that a few nice tench have been caught from a pond that’s well over 150 miles from where I live. Save that for the parish magazine.

Then it’s Tring Anglers time. Open day on the canal. Reservoir fishing well, etc.

I’ll not mention the real bores, but Jesus, some of them were dreadful. Only calling in to hear themselves on the wireless, I suspect. Look, I mean no disrespect to any of these enthusiastic contributors, each to their own, but is there any wonder I’d generally drift back to sleep?

A real highlight was when Geoff Cooper called in from Ireland. He breathed passion and enthusiasm but sadly that was all too infrequent. Same goes for when Greg Whitehead worked on the Angling Times. His reports were professional and informative.

Now please don’t for one second think I am criticising Keith or suggesting any of this is his fault. I would personally like to thank him for the sterling effort he made to establish the show and for becoming one of the longest serving broadcasters on the station. Sadly he could only play with the hand he was dealt.

Here he explains (skip to 0:28 secs)…

Keith Arthur is a consummate professional and has been a great servant to angling. I’ve listened to shows when the poor bloke has had no option but to talk solidly for the first half hour, ad breaks excepted, without taking a single call. That’s presumably because no-one had bothered to call in. I don’t know another man in angling who could realistically do that. Go on, you try it.

‘Just A Minute’ was based on the premise that professional entertainers could not talk for a whole minute without deviation, repetition or hesitation. Keith would be the undefeated world champion on that show! And it’s such a typically British trait that a number of folk who have probably never met him choose not to like Keith and freely broadcast their views on the Internet presumably because he’s enjoyed a fabulous degree of angling success both on the bank and off it and they are frankly consumed with jealousy.

Tell me this. Who else has broken into mainstream TV and radio and stayed there for well over a decade, week in and week out, whilst also holding down a weekly platform in Angling Times, or any other national newspaper for that matter? Seriously, anyone who knocks his success should take a long hard look in the mirror and ask what they’ve done to promote and further angling? Do you have a fraction of the knowledge Keith has amassed, ranging through coarse, match, specialist, game, sea and blue water fishing? Do you understand the politics of angling? What about antique tackle? If the answer is yes, then maybe you should be asking yourself why you don’t already have a radio and a TV show…

Fishermans Blues

Not too long ago Keith invited me to join him in the studio for a broadcast. I asked whether talkSPORT would pay for my accommodation and his answer was apologetic. ‘Sorry Bob, the show doesn’t have a budget for stuff like that.’

So you tell me, how was he supposed to recruit studio guests? His show was put together on a shoestring, obviously. Do you think for one moment that the football shows are treated like that?

For Fisherman’s Blues to improve it needs professional contributors. If a guest is going to travel down to London for a show that will now be broadcast at 5am surely the very least he or she might expect is a hotel room and travelling expenses. And why can’t interviews with top anglers be done over the phone, in advance, during the week?

It also needs to take a leaf out of football’s book. If a Rooney has been indiscrete with a prostitute, or Suarez bites the head off a bat, Barton acts like a tosser, etc, etc, then it will be the subject of a lively phone in. How long can we stand by and sweep things under the carpet when high profile anglers get caught fishing in the closed season,  using illegal shot, transporting livebaits to Ireland, sell stolen boats or are fishing without a license and so on?

Call it sensationalism or controversy for its own sake if you like but why shouldn’t the angling programme on a national radio station be in step with the other 167 hours of output in a typical week? Or would we rather be on a par with flower arranging and basket weaving! Let’s have a few topics that get us hot and bothered. Tell me, what other sport would stage an International competition, a major championship, a final of any sort, that didn’t have a broadcaster in attendance? We get short shrift from radio, make no mistake, and things need to change.

But is that going to happen? I don’t think so. In the short term we’re going to get more of the same old, same old. An aural parish magazine for the congregation of a village church in the Thames Valley. Until it is quietly put out to grass, that is, and the sport of angling will be further marginalised.

We lost the only fishing show on the Beeb’s Radio 5 (Dirty Tackle). ages ago. A programme that had more of a magazine feel and a budget but for some ridiculous reason was scheduled to clash with Keith’s slot. Which Oxbridge graduate came up with an idea like that!!!

Let us be under no illusions. Now Keith has gone the show is due a major makeover or it will die. Either way it’s a bit of a poisoned chalice for any budding presenter. TalkSPORT is not interested in funding a genuinely interesting angling show. We’re being pushed into a corner. Hung out to dry. The clocks go back in a week or two so tell me, who’s going to listen to, or more importantly phone up a show that’s broadcast 3 hours before it gets light. It’s crazy scheduling and pretty much doomed to fail.

So, there will be no more of this:

But (for a while) more of this:

Nigel Botherway is taking over the vacated seat during September while talkSPORT decides what will happen next.

It’s not exactly difficult to second guess that outcome, is it?

I like Nigel. If previous guest presenting slots are anything to go by he’ll litter the show with chats with some of his mates, providing they are prepared to get up at 5am with little prospect of being heard by anyone. I sincerely hope he makes a success of the show but in truth I fear he has a tougher job than King Canute. The tide has changed and I fear we shall soon be washed from the airwaves.


25 thoughts on “Sad End Of An Era

  1. Thanks for the kind words – I think – Bob. Just to set the record straight, the station wanted 2 hours starting at 5am and I refused. My manager felt I had been disrespected and withdrew my services.

    As for the programme’s content, it was always available to everyone. The fact that J from E, Kendra from MBK, Dick from Tring Anglers or Les Webber seemed to dominate was that they bothered to take advantage. Very few others, whether someone like yourself to freely promote their wares, clubs with an event or someone to tell us about their catch, could be bothered.

    Many times I set agenda; from crooked commercial fishing, to predation, to cheating to…well, whatever you like really and the angling hoi polloi seemed to have no views, except as ever, anonymously on web forums, a particularly evil form of communication (look at the current assassination on Fishing Magic, absolutely blatant lies which, as someone who has known me for 30 years at least will confirm).

    I will also take the heat off R5 Live. I had the chance to present Dirty Tackle before Nick Hancock, after Nick Fisher but it was talkSPORT who put my show out against DT, I was originally broadcasting on Sunday evenings only. They put me on from 6-7, R5’s audience bit the dust and that was the end of Nick. When I turned in down they brought in Nick H and that didn’t work for them either. So it’s my fault.

    Who knows, they may come back in for me, haha. I’m cheap (I was earning for 2 days approximately 75% of what the Beeb were offering for 25 minutes, pre-recorded on a Tuesday afternoon…and that’s why I turned it down: not the money, the time.

    I don’t know what the outcome will be but TS didn’t have a cheaper show, that’s for sure. The reason for it’s probable demise, the 11am – 1pm Warm Up programmes, will cost many, many times more yet they can’t physically have more ads: FB had the maximum allowed but they may have full-time sponsors. FB had a few over the years, from White Acres to the EA and a couple of others but I promise there isn’t anyone who has a job who would give up their weekends, including Friday nights, for what I did, all to give angling a voice.

    It worked for just over 14 years. On average over 60% of my calls, texts and e-mails started along the lines of: “I’ve never been fishing but…” And that’s what I am most sorry about.

    Tight lines (that’s pretty safe I think, haha)


    • Must say I’m honoured that Keith has responded in a most frank and informative way. Of course my words were meant to be kind, Keith. We go back nearly 25 years now, certainly far enough to know I wouldn’t bull**** you! 😉 You did a seriously good job for angling. The problem you had was angling didn’t return the favour.

      For me the highlight of the entire 14-year run was when I got a young lad that I was coaching on a Carp Society Junior School to call into the show. He’d just caught a 20lb carp and a 6lb tench and it was like standing next to a catharine wheel. I swear he was so excited and hyped up there were sparks coming off him. I don’t know how long he rattled on to you but it encapsulated the meaning of excitement and why we go fishing. He was hooked for life and it must have made amazing broadcast material. I just wish I had a tape of that show.

      I fully appreciate you can only make a programme out of the callers who ring in and sadly, those who peretend to know it all and have completely killed the online fishing forums with their behaviour and opinions were conspicuous by their absence when it came to contributing to your show.

      And folk like me carry a burden of guilt for not helping more but the producer only had to ring up on a Friday if he wanted a contribution over the weekend so I guess it’s a two-way street.

      As for the future, I hope the BBC do get back to you. Having no angling coverage on the radio is a great loss to the sport but a pre-recorded show with topical and interesting guests would be something I’d certainly listen in to.

      One last thing, Earlier today I had a private email from the former editor of a leading angling publication saying, ‘What a brilliant, brilliant article!’ He had clearly read it in the spirit it was intended.

      Keep up the good work Keith. Let’s hope you’re back on the airwaves soon.

    • I am more than sorry that T.S. has done this. I have been a regular listener from the beginning and learned so much from the show and also always had an email reply from keith to any help i needed. It is hard to fathom how stupid T.S. have been. Well there is now an opportunity for a competitor to grab a huge audience.
      Thanks Keith for many years of enjoyment and learning.

  2. Well what an excellent show of respect between two of the old school and I mean that in the biggest respect. My love for fishermans blues came when I first became a dad wandered down the stairs to get a bottle one morning put the Radio on and heard the Fishermans Blues song from that moment I was a fan. Keith held that show together like glue and was always very informative. At least we still have tight lines. Thanks Keith and thanks Bob for taking the time to write a great piece.

  3. Its been a great show over the years and for me a big leap forward from the days of Go fishing on Kent Radio, although Gerry had a great voice for radio and good knowledge but every know and then Fishermans Blues threw up a blinder Glen from Romford who’s voice made me leave the lounge in search of the kettle only to come back to find Joe from Enfield on 🙂 sadly Joe passed away Glen fell out of love and new charectors come along, “yer man the Irish Guy” now listening to him was like watching paint dry :), but his passion was addictive, I could feel myself casting out for the guy trying to help him catch a fish, you could set your watch by some of them charectors, Awesome stuff the show and Keiths presence will be missed I don’t think the station controllers realise, there may not have been a huge variety of callers but every angler in the country at some point flicked the channel to talk sport when they remembered on thier way to fishing.

    Good luck Keith we might get to see you on a few more matches now.

    Most of us will hold fond memories

  4. Nice piece Bob and fair reply Keefie. I still fondly remember delivering floats to Acton Angling many years ago where Keith was in charge. I always resolved to spend as little time as possible in order to miss the London traffic yet rarely left before several cups of Rosi had been drunk and absolutely tons of fish caught and stories told. Keith progression to presenter was inevitable, he now gets paid for what we all loved doing for free, ,,,this gem must be appreciated.

  5. Guys, I never once listened to the show purely because I had absolutely no idea that there was a fishing programme on the radio. I know the weeklies now advertise tv shows for fishing and maybe I’ve missed something obvious in the publications or maybe we as anglers don’t share the knowledge of such things with fellow anglers? Whatever the reason, I’m sure there are many other fanatics out there who like me never knew about this and now sadly won’t get to experience it either.

    Tight lines chaps.


  6. For many years, yes, I spoke on a regular basis on ‘Keiths’ show. As mates we do speak many times a year via email. I have fished with Keith a good number of times in Ireland. To qoute one of his sayings, ‘The best company.’ The man can be just as amusing off camera as he his on. We often have goes at one another over his beloved Arsenal and my team Sheffield Wednesday. On air he always allowed me to have my say no matter how controversial. Keith gone programme gone I,m sorry to say.

  7. 26/10/13
    “Don’t it always seem to go
    that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone
    they paved paradise
    and put up a parking lot” Joni Mitchell 1970

    Without wishing to be TOO sentimental, the first two lines seem SO apt in relation to Keith’s departure from my radio! By the way, I always knew we had something really special with Keith. I listened from the first ever show and to Talk Sport when it was simply Talk Radio! (I even remember the adverts that went out for about a month in the build up to the initial launch!)

    We humans, very often, overlook what is precious and important to our wellbeing!
    It was only when I started to think about the second two lines (“they paved paradise
    and put up a parking lot” ) that I realised just how appropriate the song was/is in relation to him. Anyone who knows Keith from his ex radio show ( Fisherman’s Blues on Talk Sport) will know he is passionate about many things. (I’ve always admired passionate people, or should I say passionate people who can put a sensible argument together!) If you knew Keith on the show as I did you’d know that he cared so much about the environment, one of his sayings was…

    “Fishing, the best excuse for loafing about in the countryside”

    The song (Big Yellow Taxis) was written by a Canadian (Joni Mitchell) and they are no strangers to the great outdoors. 1970 was a simpler, many would say healthier time, a time I suspect that Keith would love to return to, perhaps, like me, without the pressures of the first mortgage to service!
    Many British youngsters of today haven’t had the luxury of freely walking to an unspoilt stream or lake and catching and releasing a fish, or taking one home for the table. There’s something primeval in it. After all, for most of human history, THAT’S WHAT WE DID !
    I’ve read the above letters and they’re mostly complementary to Keith as they should be in my view as I firmly believe he worked really hard at what he did. But going a bit deeper than a radio phone in about a hobby, Keith gave people a chance to communicate a growing anxiety of a loss! We (mainly Western urban poor) are slowly losing our connection with nature as we get evermore drawn in to being consumers/shoppers/targets of corporate greed and a big brother state!

    I don’t share Keith’s passion for football (love the World Cup though!) as for me, same with cricket, it just goes on and on week after week… a ball goes between two sticks once or twice and everyone gave 110 percent…bored even thinking about it…However, Keith’s passion was infectious, real, and I for one respected that.

    I also respected his unfailing tenacity when dealing with bodies like the Environment Agency etc. etc. and also individuals who pollute. He was…IS an ambassador for people who fish and people who love the countryside. There always have and always will be competing interests and he was never afraid of talking about them and inviting people to phone in. Otters, cormorants, American crayfish, Mitten crabs, water management, litter, fishing quotas these were tricky subjects and I got to listen to heartfelt discussions about all of them every Saturday and Sunday morning before most people even woke up!

    “I’m not a fisherman but”… that’s how 60% of emails would start apparently and this is testimony to his ability to connect to people and their need to once again be involved in a club, in a community, a community of people who understand that nature needs a hand now and then…or she may not survive!

    Talk Sport, you should be thanked for your work with Keith but in all your hours of sport talk ( for “sport” read football by the way!…but that’s another subject for another day!) why couldn’t you allow this one small “oasis” to survive and even thrive?
    Thank our lucky stars that Keith is still around and I hope he’ll get snapped up by the Beeb or whoever to weave his magic again. Who’d blame him if he put two fingers up and just enjoyed his fishing for the rest of his life!

    Keith, you’re one of life’s true gentlemen, you inspired people to get off their backsides and do stuff, you made a difference. Let’s hope we see or hear you more, soon, and that you’re around for a very long time to come. I’m an old git now and so is Keith and many an old fishing git enjoyed the show, but let’s hope that if they do pave paradise that they pave that bit from the pub to the river bank for our zimmers and wheelchairs. Come back soon Keith.
    Best regards and tight lines…Chris from Cardiff.

    • pave that bit from the pub to the bankside I second that , shame on you talksport for letting that special specimen [keith] to get away.

  8. I was really sorry to hear that Keith had decided to give up, but seeing the options he was presented with, who can blame him?

    Due to family commitments I gave up fishing in th 70s, but listening to Keith whetted my appetite again. I listened avidly for a couple of years as he talked about mysterious things like hair rigs and method feeders! Things I was totally unaware of in the 70s. I plucked up the courage and bought some basic tackle, with which alongside some invaluable advice from my local tackle shop, I WENT FISHING!

    WOW! I was back doing something I really enjoyed. My best to date being an 18lb common caught on the method with a hair rig.

    So many thanks Keith, I owe you. Good luck for the future, and here’s to happy days with a rod in your hand.

  9. ‘Ive never fished,but……..How often did we hear that,before an interesting conversation with Keith? Says enough does it not!

  10. Keith I used to set the clock at the weekends to listen to you [even though on a weekday get up at 5am] I would then lay in bed and enjoy listening to your show you certainly didn’t need to be a fisher-person to understand.Being a Gooner was a plus too good luck Keith ive changed over to 5 live now.

    • I used to listen to Keith whenever I got the chance and always enjoyed the show. I am totally blind and Keith could paint pictures in my mind, he also got me thinking about taking up the sport, which I had stopped after my sight had gotten too bad.
      I am back fishing although I hardly get to go as I need help getting to the lake or riverside. Still when I do get to go I really enjoy myself and I always thank Keith for giving me the kick in the backside I needed. Thank you Keith and Talk Sport must be mad to have let you go.
      Best wishes mate, Bob Pembroke Dagenham Essex

  11. Well Keith. With all those comments, everyone of praise by the way, it must be time to knock on a few doors !! The fishermen and others desperately need something like what you produce, to enlighten those who have never fished, advise the naive, inform the bigots of their wrong doings, ie; polluters, thieves and other miscreants and the followers of your knowledge and tales of the river banks that we have never seen the likes before. I get fed up with all the ‘self promoting’ big names of fishing who are only there to make another few million quid from goods made in China, packaged in their own brands and sold for huge profits, but wouldn’t spend a few minutes out of their week to call in and just tell a few yarns of their days before they were business men.
    I truly am sad that I will not hear you on TS again and not be able to pass on all the tips that you gave out, to my young stepsons. They couldn’t grasp the the fact that age brought experience along with it !!! I’ll continue to pester you at the Big One events for advice on hair rigs and knotless knots, along with your mate Roy Marlow, so look forward to seeing you there at one of the presentations.
    Get back on the airwaves soon, please.

    • Yes other channels have to cater for fishing LBC has a lot of boring overlap MP would welcome a bashing brake.

  12. Certainly is the End or an Era, whether at home in bed or wrapped up in me bivvy waiting for Mr. Carpy to pick up my boilie the alarm was always set ready for the opening lines of a rhyme and then Fisherman’s Blues, true what many have said that you don’t know what you’ve got or how lucky we are till it’s gone !!
    Even if a fish less night had ensued the sound of the Waterboys and FB always got the pulse racing. Ok show needed revamping but if Talksport had kept it to 6-8am they could’ve brought in celebrity fisherman ie David Seaman, Jimmy Bullard, Lee Bowyer, Bobby Zamora, Tony Hibbert, Jamie O’Hara etc as weekly guests alongside Keith, which I have no doubt would’ve increased listeners. It will be interesting to actually see if listening figures have dropped at Talksport in the future especially as it seems TS have gone footy mad. No so much Talksport more Talkfootball !!
    That just leaves me to say Thanks Keith for the many hours of great listening over the years. All the best for the future !!

  13. Only reason I listened to Talksport was for Keiths highlighting Childish sentencing for illegal over quoto crimes. Like Sarah Kennedy someone had it in for straight talking people the good few. God bless Keith.

    • Nigel is doing a great job, god bless him. Even so, the handover at 0700hrs is bereft of banter! I used to listen to TS quite a bit, but their moronic obsession with kick ball is now beyond the pail. I will still listen every Sunday at 0600hrs, but that’s all. Sad.

  14. Keith was brilliant, the song was great, the callers very varied and interesting. TS is supposed to be about numerous other sport topics but now only seems to interested in football? I’m not a fisherman but never missed the show. Nigel is good but will never be a K.A.

  15. I also miss Keith too i’ve always listened to TalkSPORT since it was talk radio donkeys of years ago. I’ve listened to keith’s show from day one and it’s not the same now hes’s gone 🙁 Wish TalkSPORT treated you better, all the best keith and hope we can all get to hear you very soon.

  16. End of a great Era. Saturdays mornings are not the same. I always listened to Keith who had so much passion for the sport. Miss KA, but Nigel is a worthy replacement. I suppose with everything, things evolve and move on.