The personal interest apparently taken by Lord Hanson in his smallest subsidiary, Melody Radio - London's 'minimum talk, maximum music' station - seems to know no bounds.
Ever since it was set up in 1990 as a British version of the US easy-listening stations of which Hanson is so fond, observers have tended to label Melody a minor lordly indulgence (it has yet to show a profit) within what is a notoriously tightly-run empire. Indeed, some wags even suggest that its role is to provide its chairman with mellifluous listening as he is chauffeured around the capital. They also cite Hanson's own efforts to promote the station - his appearance in some of its early adverts, for example, along with tales of Hanson business meetings in which its strains are heard in the background.
Now, according to insiders, it is also the station's policy that Hanson must hear the tapes of any potential presenter before a job offer is made. Sheila Porritt, Melody's MD, admits that Hanson is a hands-on chairman but denies that he plays any part in the selection of staff. All the same, it's odd that such a request should reputedly be made if he doesn't make his feelings known.