Book Review: The Red Light Zone
Jeff Zycinski (b. 1963) has recently retired after spending 25 years at BBC Scotland, where he became Head of Radio.
Reviewed by: David Harris
Jeff Zycinski's book, The Red Light Zone, is an affectionate memoir of his career in broadcasting which began in 1988, when – as part of a postgraduate journalism course – he obtained a work placement at Moray Firth Radio, Inverness. This led to a permanent job and, after 18 months there, he moved to Radio Clyde. From 1993, he worked with the BBC at Selkirk, Borders.
Jeff made quite an impression and moved to the BBC Inverness studios. He undertook a road trip to the USA, where he visited radio stations and gained insights into the future of radio, such as automatic playback systems. He then moved from presentation to production and commissioning. In 2004, he won his dream job as Head of BBC Radio Scotland, where he remained until 2018.
What really comes out in this book is Jeff’s dedication to providing a distinctly ‘Scottish flavour’ to BBC Radio. Jeff is Scottish, and he has spent all of his working life in Scotland, often promoting the uniqueness of Scottish culture.
Under his leadership, BBC Radio Scotland achieved a listenership of over 1 million. Throughout the book, Jeff celebrates the fact that the BBC is an extremely good employer and a very well-resourced organisation. He does share some thoughts on the politics of the BBC at a national level and of attempts to bring about change within the organisation. There is a very informative chapter on the 2014 Scottish Referendum, which really tested BBC Radio Scotland’s requirement to be impartial.
This is a very well written book which gives an excellent insight into the life of a BBC producer and station controller. he book deserves to be successful and should be read by everyone working in or contemplating a career in the media.
This review featured in RadioUser June 2019.