Laurie Mason obituary
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 June 2010
Mason helped newly independent Malawi to create its own radio news.
The former BBC reporter Laurie Mason, who has died aged 86 from a
pulmonary embolism, embodied the virtues championed by the corporation's
founder, Lord Reith including editorial independence and the duty to
inform. In the 1960s he played a big part in developing regional
television news and current affairs in the west of England. That was the
time our friendship began, getting closer when we both retired from the BBC.
Born in Weston-super-Mare, Laurie left Weston grammar school on a Friday
in September 1939, within days of the declaration of war. On Monday he
started work at the Weston Gazette, and before long was reporting on
courts and council matters. Then came the call-up for the army, and four
years in uniform. Frustrated at not being passed A1, he made repeated
attempts to get posted abroad but had to settle for lecturing to
civilian war employees.
After the war, Laurie returned to Somerset and convinced the BBC that
his reporting was worth broadcasting. He joined the BBC staff in 1953
and by the 1960s was regional news editor with responsibility for radio
and television news in Bristol, Plymouth and Southampton. In 1968 he
spent a year in newly independent Malawi, helping the country to create
its own radio news. For the latter part of his career, he was based in
Southampton, where he helped regional talents such as Kate Adie and
Michael Buerk on their way to national reputations. He retired in 1980
but continued for several years to produce Any Answers for Radio 4.
Laurie married Joan, a talented pianist, in 1944. She died in 2002. He
is survived by their two sons: Barnaby, who became a diplomatic
correpondent for the BBC World Service, and William, an opera singer.