BU PhD student Tony Stoller talks digital radio on BBC Radio Solent

BU PhD student and former chief executive of the Radio Authority Tony Stoller spoke on BBC Radio Solent about the switchover to digital radio.

Tony took part in Breakfast Show host Julian Clegg’s Big Conversation feature, which looked at new technology in the radio industry and the government’s decision not to switch off the FM frequency for digital DAB signals until after at least 2016.

“There’s been a lot of pressure on the government from some of the bigger battalions in radio to switch off FM because that way everyone is going to be forced to digital,” said Tony.

“But the government’s come up with a good solution – it says we still believe in digital, but not yet, and we’ll do some things to help digital along.”

He added that there were still some issues with the current digital DAB radio technology – including inconsistent signal and an inability to access some of the smaller, local radio stations.

“There’s a real question about the technology itself,” Tony said.

“There are two things you could do – you could make the present system better by finding a way of putting in a stronger signal. In some bits of the home it will work perfectly, but you may take it to one room where it may not work so well.

“The other thing you could do is look at other ways of doing digital radio. I can listen to radio through my television, on my computer, on my new tablet. There are lots of different digital options these days – you don’t want to be hung up on what we call a single platform for broadcasting.”

Tony’s PhD is looking at aspects of classical music on UK radio, and Julian asked him what made him leave the radio industry to go back to education.

“I wanted to study aspects of radio that interest me,” Tony said.

“Bournemouth University is a great place to do it, but it’s very hard.

“If I’d known what I was taking on, I might not have done it, but it’s huge fun as well.”

Listen to the programme (available for seven days after broadcast)

Centre for Face Processing Disorders at BU campaigns for greater recognition of face blindness


Imagine not being able to recognise your own child at nursery or even pick out your own face from a line-up of photos.

This is just how severe face blindness, or prosopagnosia, can be.

“In extreme cases, people might withdraw socially – become depressed, leave their job, or just suffer endless embarrassment,” said Bournemouth University psychologist Dr Sarah Bate.

Dr Bate leads the Centre for Face Processing Disorders at BU, which carries out research to advance understanding of the causes of prosopagnosia and develops training strategies that can help to improve face recognition skills.

The Centre is now campaigning for formal recognition of face blindness, and has launched an e-petition for the issue to be discussed in parliament.

“Children with prosopagnosia can find it really difficult to make friends because all children wear school uniforms in the UK – this takes away any external cues to recognition,” said Dr Bate.

“If children with face blindness seem socially withdrawn, this is often misinterpreted as an indicator of other socio-emotional difficulties or behavioural problems because of the lack of professional awareness of prosopagnosia.”

She added: “Because prosopagnosia is not a formally recognised disorder, many people are reluctant to inform their employer that they have the condition, despite it influencing their performance at work or their relations with colleagues and clients.

“Indeed, many people feel they would be discriminated against if managers became aware of their condition, and this may prevent promotion and impede other opportunities in the workplace.”

Until the last decade or so, face blindness was virtually unknown, with just a handful of documented cases.

But now thousands of people have contacted Bournemouth University, the largest research centre in the UK investigating the condition.

Dr Bate estimates one in 50 people suffer from prosopagnosia to some degree – some struggle to put a name to a face while others can’t recognise people they have known their whole lives.

Those with severe forms of the condition typically cannot recognise spouses, children or other family members and some cannot even recognise their own reflections in the mirror.

Dr Bate said: “I imagine there is such low awareness of prosopagnosia because it has traditionally been thought of as a rare disorder, and only recently has it become clear that it affects many people.

“Someone said to me recently that public awareness about prosopagnosia is where Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was 20 years ago, and there’s a real upwards battle to achieve sufficient recognition amongst the public and professionals.”

The disorder can be acquired following neurological trauma or illness, such as a head injury or stroke, but many more people suffer from a developmental form of the condition and have lifelong difficulties in face recognition.

There may be as many as 1.5 million prosopagnosics in the UK alone, but public and professional awareness of the condition is low.

Dr Bate hopes that the Centre’s public awareness campaign will lead to greater recognition of prosopagnosia.

The campaign includes an e-petition, which needs 100,000 signatures to have the condition discussed in parliament.

“It’s going to take a while to achieve the required number of signatures, but it will get people talking about prosopagnosia and discussing the importance of proper recognition,” she said.

“If the issue does get discussed by government, it’s possible that we can use our research to advise about the need for professional awareness of the condition, and work with appropriate committees to provide information that can be distributed via the NHS and educational and occupational pathways.”

You can sign the e-petition here

To find out more about face blindness and the work of the Centre for Face Processing Disorders visit www.prosopagnosiaresearch.org.