Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bye Bye Bush House

Friday 15 June 2012 was the last day Focus on Africa was broadcast from Bush House, home to the BBC World Service for many decades. From now on it will broadcast from a modern building in another part of London. The building is known as 'W1' or 'New Broadcasting House'.

Here's a video of the closing moments of the programme. Lots of people came to watch including some of the brave correspondents who have reported for Focus on war in Sierra Leone, chaos in Nigeria and Museveni in Uganda. 

One of those who made Focus what it is, the former Deputy Editor of the programme, Elizabeth Ohene, broadcast a farewell to Bush House. I recorded it from the noisy part of the studio, so you can hear some chatter and the presenter, Bola Mosuro, asking the producer some questions. You can hear it by clicking on this link: Elizabeth Ohene says goodbye

Studio manager gets Focus on air

The red light means Focus is live  on air
We used to edit tape with razor blades on these machines

You can see the guests in the mirror. Bola Mosuro is presenting the programme.

The studio's many phones were colour coded

There was only one flag in the studio
There were lots of buttons in the studio

And lots of wires

The Focus trumpets are played from this machine

Elizabeth Ohene's piece was played from this machine

Under the studio desk

Recycling bin in studio
Non recycling bin in studio

Focus had a magazine, now it has a TV.
The picture frames are empty now

The Focus and Network office known as 334CB, Bush House.

We had a party to say goodbye

These strange signs have been appearing all over Bush House

The night sky outside Bush House

I worked at Focus for many years, in the 1990s and 2000s. We interviewed presidents, rebel leaders who became presidents, rebel leaders who went to prison, rebel leaders who died in battle, rebel leaders who died in plane crashes, presidents who went to prison... 

Often, when something big happened in Africa, or someone wanted something big to happen in Africa, they would call us up asking to be interviewed. We did not always accept. There were sometimes heated debates about whether we should put someone on air. 

Luckily we had an index which listed everything we had done by country, so we could quickly check whether we were giving the right amount of airtime (ie balance) to each side.

We reported on people living through genocide, carrying out genocide, having limbs hacked off, hacking limbs off. History unfolded in front of our eyes and in our ears.

We also reported positive things but were told off by our listeners for not doing enough of that. 

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