By Ray Fleming Someone with an ironic sense of humour was in charge of the alternative programming for the first day of the strikes against the BBC's plans for some 4'000 redundancies. The flagship Today programme on Radio 4 could not go on air to set the political agenda for the day in its usual three-hour morning session but its place was taken by two repeat broadcasts which provided an indirect comment on the strike. The first was the edition of John Waite's In Business series that reported on the rapid development of the so-called pod-casting by which, apparently, listeners will be able to create their own radio agenda by cherry-picking programmes from all over the ether. The message was unmistakable: technology is racing ahead, there's no point in Luddite-like resistance to change. The second repeat was a programme about the jazz musician Dizzie Gillepsie; at first sight it might seem difficult to see any connection between that and Today's normal content, but that would be to overlook the fact that the presenter of the programme was one, Ken Clarke, jazz aficionado, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and possible candidate for the leadership of the Conservative party. Mr Clarke talks as authoritatively and engagingly about jazz as he does about the state of the economy and many Today listeners may have concluded that they rather prefer him in the former mode. The dispute between the BBC and the broadcasting unions has quickly become a dialogue of the deaf. The unions want the the BBC to sit at the table and negotiate over the proposed sackings; the BBC management is prepared to consult but not to negotiate; in an interview yesterday Mark Byford, the Corporation's deputy director general, pointedly refused to use the N-word. At stake for the BBC is proving that in return for a renewal of its Charter next year by a generally sympathetic government, it will slim down its 29'000 staff and in addition put out much more of its production to the private sector.