The British GT Fans Show Leaves Motorsport.Radio with Immediate Effect.

posted in: Industry, News | 3

  • Show continues via self-publishing.
  • Find us on Buzzsprout and all good podcasting services.
  • Creative differences and social attitudes forced split.

SHEFFIELD, UK 29th July 2020.

The British GT Fans Show Podcast will no longer be aired on Motorsport.radio. The decision to end our relationship with Motorsport.media, the company which produces the Motorsport.radio service, comes after concerns were raised regarding audio quality which reached their peak following the release of The British GT Fans Show – Episode 7 Rick Parfitt Jnr Special on Monday 27th July 2020.

The relationships involved in producing and publishing the British GT Fans Show are important to us. Our relationship with the British GT Fans group on social media is a constant source of ideas and inspiration to the production team. We are delighted to welcome each episode, either Andrew Brightman, Gaz Jacobs or both onto the show as experts in the series with opinions we believe deserve to be aired. 

This relationship is purely editorial, with the group having input into which topics are discussed on the show.

Our relationship with Motorsport.media was to be purely logistical. By this we mean that Stormvixen Creative Media Consultancy would provide a finished audio file to Motorsport.media for release. During the five months of the show’s run on Motorsport.radio, station owner and director Lester Forbes attempted on several occasions to influence either the production or editorial direction of the show. 

It is important to note that the only relationship between British GT Fans and Motorsport.media was through the British GT Fans Show. This relationship was managed entirely by RPS Driven Media Ltd and Stormvixen CMC. The British GT Fans group on social media had no role in the causing or worsening of any tensions which have arisen between the show and its chosen partners.

The cause of the sound issues:

During early episodes of the show Sara Smith from Stormvixen CMC noted that the quality of the output to the audience didn’t match with the quality of the audio file supplied to Motorsport.radio. Initially we put this discrepancy down to the way Spreaker, Motorsport.media’s podcasting provider, handled the audio files.

As the season went on, we noted that the discrepancy was always present but different each time. The issue was an increase in lower tones and background noise which caused the audio files to sound ‘blown out’. Or to put the issue visually, it was like a medium sized photograph which had been printed on A3 paper. Soft, pixelated almost, unpleasant. 

By episode 4 of the show, we were convinced that the issue wasn’t related to Spreaker’s handling of the files. Sara Smith began doing some investigative work using the audio tools available to her as part of her preparation of the show’s episodes. By applying a basic, pre-packaged process built into Adobe Audition, Sara managed to duplicate many of the problems we had been facing in our published content. We deduced from this that after we had sent the file to Motorsport.media for publication, Lester Forbes was adding additional processing which boosted certain wavelengths in the file. 

Both Nicholas and Sara spoke at length to Lester about this issue on a conference call prior to publishing episode 6 of the show.

Again, Nicholas discussed the issues with Lester on a one to one phone call on Friday 24th July 2020. 

Lester Forbes informed us that every item of content which is broadcast on Motorsport.radio was subject to the same process prior to publishing. We asked for details of this process so that we could either apply it ourselves, so we could be sure the quality of the finished file was acceptable to us, or make adjustments to our own processing of the files to ensure quality after Motorsport.radio added its own post-processing revisions. 

This information was not given.

In an effort to improve sound quality, The British GT Fans Show team have taken several major steps. Nicholas has invested heavily in quality sound equipment to improve his sound quality. This included microphones, microphone holders, a multi-channel mixer and high quality cables, a value totalling almost £500 of unexpected expense. Both Andrew and Gaz have also invested in new headsets to improve their contributions to the show. 

The Rick Parfitt Jnr Special episode of the show was published as planned on 27th July 2020 and immediately there were comments about the audio quality. Sara investigated immediately, putting the important work for other clients of Stormvixen CMC on hold. 

A comparison between the files published by Motorsport.radio and the file produced by Stormvixen CMC.

If you look at the image above, you can see two different tracks of audio shown graphically as a wave form in Adobe Audition. The purple waveform is the file which was shared with Motorsport.media for publication and has the file name RPJ Special_EXPORT_FOR_MSR.mp3. The green waveform is the file downloaded from Spreaker after concerns were raised. You can see that the file name has been changed to rpj special_export_for_msr_v2.mp3 so it is obviously a file which has had extra work done on it.

Sound expressed visually is shown as spikes either side of a centre line. That centre line represents 0dB, or silence. For good quality audio, Sara runs a process called a hard limit which reduces the volumes in the recording so that no spike of volume exceeds a certain level. This helps to avoid echoes, blown out sounds and damaging levels of noise from a recording. From the image above you can see this as large periods where the sound is expressed as a solid purple bar which doesn’t fill the available space. Peaks of sound are down to music and ‘idents’ inserted into the file which are processed differently, then inserted.

Once complete the file is again processed as a whole file to ensure that none of the new peaks in the audio are at damaging levels or levels which adversely affect the quality. 

If you look at the green waveform, you can see that all of this hard work from Sara has been undone. The mystery Motorsport.media post-processing has boosted the entire waveform to maximum, which causes distortion, increased echoes and background noise. This is the cause of the audio quality issues we have been experiencing and we can only assume that Lester Forbes reluctance to discuss it with us is because he knew it was happening all along and didn’t want it to be known.

Below are two MP3 audio files, both the opening three minutes of the episode. Even cursory listening shows that the Motorsport.radio file is much louder. More careful ears will detect distortions in the second clip which are not present or not as obvious in the first.

It is important to note that this interview was conducted in less than perfect conditions. Internet was not an option for the interviewee due to signal. We arranged a dial in solution which enabled him to join us but did affect quality compared to our usual output.

The audio file released by Stormvixen CMC to Motorsport.radio for uploading.

The audio file published by Motorsport.radio after further editing.


Post Episode 7:

As soon as the Rick Parfitt Jnr Special was released we messaged Lester to try and resolve the problem. We pleaded with him to help us resolve the situation. In response he became patronising and aggressive in the tone of his responses. He informed us, with no consultation or discussion, that he was ending ‘this experiment’. 

He attempted to kill us off.

Of course if Motorsport.media doesn’t wish to provide our content to its listeners, that is its prerogative. With another episode due just two days later however, Nick worked to immediately negotiate a controlled transition to a new solution. It was at this point that another issue with Lester Forbes came to light, and it is fortunate that it did because Sara’s dedication to the show had inspired her to put the necessary planning in place which has enabled us to transition at no notice, in less than 15 hours, to a new solution.

Sara has informed us of an incident which occurred on a conference call in June involving a dismissive and sexist comment from Lester Forbes directed at her. Nick was also on the call and noted the remark but didn’t carry out an action as he mistakenly believed that it had not caused hurt and offence  and that bringing it up with Sara might cause that hurt or offence. Nick would like to express his apologies to Sara for the oversight.

A pattern of potentially sexist behaviour on the part of Lester Forbes has been identified. From ignoring Sara’s requests for information until Nick became involved to ‘mansplaining’ concepts to her which she was intimately familiar with in the first place. 

A formal complaint has now been made which RPS Driven Media Ltd is taking seriously. Nicholas has requested that an outside party investigate the claims, despite the relationship ending but we feel obliged to include these claims in this statement as they were witnessed by Nicholas and have been validated.

We appreciate Sara was looking out for the interests of the show in not revealing her hurt and offence but would like to be sure that all connected to the British GT Fans Show are aware that we put the mental and physical health and wellbeing of our team and our listeners first. We would rather have no show than an unhappy one.

Regardless of intent, we can be sure that sexist comments were made. That in itself would have been enough to end our relationship with Motorsport.media even if we hadn’t disagreed on production related issues. Discrimination on any basis is unacceptable to RPS Driven Media Ltd, Stormvixen CMC and the British GT Fans Show.

BGTFShow moving forward:

The sound quality issues we have faced have been unacceptable. The British GT Fans Show notes that we are in competition with other shows, particularly the official SRO podcast, The Pitlane and the recently launched GT Report Podcast. We welcome competition, in fact we thrive on it. The chance to compare ourselves to highly respected professionals like David Addison is exciting and we wish all success to Miguel Bosch Joe Hudson and Jurek Biegus who are among the team leading GTReport.com.

We are unwilling however to go into competition with one of our partners sabotaging our efforts. 

Thanks to Sara’s preparedness, we have been able to put the steps in place to remove all content from Motorsport.radio. 

  • We have established our own service for distributing podcasts. We urge all existing listeners to switch their subscriptions to this service so that you do not miss out on any content. 
  • Over the coming weeks we will be removing all Motorsport.radio and Motorsport.media branding from British GT Fans Show websites, social media and even from our entry in the TORA run British GT Esports Championship.
  • We will be contacting Motorsport.media and instructing Lester Forbes to remove all content provided by the show from his outlets. Unfortunately, Nicholas has done other work with Motorsport.radio in the past and in doing so ceded his rights to control the content so it isn’t possible for Nicholas to completely sever ties with the organisation due to incompatible attitudes and opinions. 
  • We have contacted other media organisations and are looking to cement new partnerships to drive the show forward. We will provide more information on these discussions as they progress and bear fruit.

Nick Smith is a time served motorsport journalist and photographer specialising in the British GT Championship. The originator of the idea behind the British GT Fans Show, Nick works to bring all the parties together.

Outside of motor racing Nick is a articulated lorry driver, qualified transport manager, and brass musician.

3 Responses

  1. Steven Poore

    That’s an appalling abuse of privilege and power from Lester Forbes, who should should resign from his position immediately. Also, bravo Sara, and drive on!

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