On The Radio

What can any blogger write that doesn’t involve mentioning Covid, Brexit, The White House or the fact that a new year has started? Let us retreat to where most of us are at the moment, home. Home comforts, or what I now call Covid Comforts are keeping us going. If you are reading this it is unlikely you are in a refugee camp, an intensive care unit or a war zone; for that we should be grateful. If you look around your home I wonder how many modern wonders provide your life support system? The internet obviously, books, television, central heating, on line shopping, computer games. Before any of those was The Word, okay so radio came quite a while after the beginning of the Old Testament, but the first modern invention in my life was the radio, long before I could read, even before I could walk or talk music was seeping into my bones thanks to the BBC. Before I was born my parents were listening to programmes that are still being broadcast; The Archers, Desert Island Discs and Woman’s Hour.

Woman’s Hour has just had its seventy fifth birthday and received a letter from The Queen. When Dame Jenni Murray ( a national institution ) announced she was leaving after thirty three years, followed soon after by a similar announcement by Jane Garvey, who has been with the programme for thirteen years, my immediate thoughts were You can’t do this, not in the middle of a pandemic and my mother and husband have just died… As I have been listening at least since our first baby was born forty one years ago, there have been other favourite presenters, the programme will survive.  The modern mother can listen on her iPhone while breastfeeding in the dark watches of the night. Many men also listen and people of all ages can hear the programme in the car or when out jogging. Very different from the early days when it was broadcast at 2pm and mothers were presumed to be sitting down for a rest after lunch while their babies were having their nap. There is fun, but there are dark topics. I imagine there is no controversial issue that has not been covered on the programme, Woman’s Hour is where we first heard about FMG. The final quarter of the hour is a serial, there is always something for everyone.

Woman’s Hour: The Queen sends ‘best wishes’ to show on its 75th year – BBC Newshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-55527576

In that 2020 strange sunny spring and summer of isolation, Cyberspouse listened to Woman’s Hour every morning over our leisurely breakfasts in the sun lounge. BBC Radio Four in the mornings is packed with interesting programmes and three different serials. Thanks to Amazon I bought two more digital radios to add to our collection.

There is much more to say about radio; such as why are we fascinated by the shipping forecast… but that’s for another blog. For now here is something cheery, one of my early memories that I just heard on the radio. Light music is what we all need at the moment and there have been memorable tunes composed on both sides of the Atlantic. This is one for writers by Leroy Anderson, though I don’t think he could have written a piece about computers…

The Typewriter Leroy Anderson Martin Breinschmid with Strauß Festival Orchestra Vienna – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=g2LJ1i7222c

What are your Covid Comforts? Do you have favourite radio presenters and programmes?

27 thoughts on “On The Radio

  1. The ABC here has provided a similar service of generations of Australians. Your Archers was our Blue Hills and, growing up in the country, ABC news and the Country Hour were always listened to in sacrosanct silence if you didn’t want a thick ear. And, like the Beeb, it is under constant attack from Rupert and right-wing MPs who don’t want any other version of the truth to get out and, as a consequence is being dumbed down to keep its funding. But I digress. While we’ve never had to endure lockdowns like you Brits, I’ve discovered the joys of old film clips of my favorites bands and singers on YouTube.

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  2. Yes Doug, I have signed several petitions to save the ABC posted by my Aussie cousin on Facebook, so important for it not to be dumbed down. One of my first memories when we arrived in Australia is of the fanfare announcing the ABC news – I can’t hum it on here.. Yes YouTube is a great source for finding all sorts.

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      1. I like to listen to stations from places I’ve been and loved. Funnily enough, especially the ads, because they’re local. An ad mentions Limerick, say, I close my eyes and I’m back there.
        That aside, it’s surprising how “samey” stations are to each other.


  3. I am almost embarrassed to say that I only ever listened to the radio in my car. At home I would have taped music when I felt the need but I rarely listen to the radio anymore. I don’t remember the last time I owned a radio. Although now with the Internet you can get anything online.

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    1. I don’t drive so that rather precludes listening in the car and passengers don’t usually get to choose! I’m listening to radio on the television at the moment midnight – having had enough of news – BBC Radio 3 with a recording of the Notre Dame organ playing Rachmaninov.

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  4. I love radio, specifically Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC (probably modeled on the BBC). it’s had funding struggles too, and the classical music service was reduced to a pale version of its former self a decade or more ago. Still, I find it a reliable and reassuring source of info and entertainment. Like you, I sometimes think I should seek out other sources, but somehow haven’t made myself do that.

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    1. Yes Audrey it is a comfort to hear familiar calm voices on the radio and important for public broadcasters to be treasured. Luckily BBC Radio 3 made itself more accessible after Classic FM, a commercial music station, came along years ago. Concerts every evening and they broadcast live from all sorts of places – The Proms to Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

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    1. Hello Chris, it’s good you can still get it on the internet. I dip in and out of The Archers – it got a bit ridiculous last year when they broadcast episodes already recorded and Ambridge was the only place in the world where nobody had noticed there was a pandemic going on and the rest of the country was in lockdown!

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  5. As a child, we listened to ‘The Wireless’. This was an enormous radio that dominated the room, much larger than the television boutght in 1953 that sat in the opposite corner. The tuning dial had lists of exotic-sounding places printed on it, and I would fiddle around until I heard someone broadcasting in a foreign language. It had to ‘warm up’ after being switched on.
    My favourite programmes were Educating Archie, The Clitheroe Kid, Round The Horne, and Family Favourites. I was later gifted a snazzy ‘Transistor Radio’ to listen to in my room, and had it permanently tuned to Radio Luxembourg to hear the pop music of the day.
    Best wishes. Pete.

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    1. Yes Pete, those tuning dials looked so interesting. Even when we went to Australia we were still listening to Kenneth Horne during Sunday lunch as the ABC broadcast some English programmes. Mum and Dad bought duty free transistor radios when we stopped off ( briefly ) in Singapore on the way to Australia in 1964. My transistor was my prized possession. Perth had commercial radio stations to listen to pop music.

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  6. What a lovely post. I am afraid my listening habits have changed over the years and I tend to have our radios on the same two stations, Radio 2 and Smooth. Hubby doesn’t like talk on radio and we aren’t into classical music.Trouble is, Smooth plays the same tunes over and over again and Radio 2 is gradually getting rid of all the presnters and music we like. Don Black has gone and the big band programme. It is ages since they axed ‘the Organist Entertains’ It is all ‘Sounds of the 80s and 90’s. Tony Blackburn is on at the wrong times.We don’t want 60s music at 6am. I won’t put things in my ears to listen so we revert to CDs. A little dinner jazz at meal times is very soothing.

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  7. Yes every home is different. I would go round the bend listening to Smooth I expect! A friend once said her radio was permanently tuned to Radio Solent as her husband didn’t want to miss any football news – he was a fanatic Cherries ( Bournemouth ) supporter. No, I don’t put anything in my ears and certainly not when I’m out, I like to know what’s going on around me – not that there is much going on at the moment.

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  8. Janet, loved the typewriter symphony. In America, we have something called Sirius radio that come with a one year subscription when you buy or lease a new car. We have been hooked on it, and though we don’t buy/lease a car every year, they will give you a good discount if you are a loyal listener. Years and years ago, Tom Petty had his own show called “Buried Treasure” where he didn’t play any of his million songs, but played only old blues, from his own record collection. The beginnings of rock and roll. And his patter between songs was hilarious. Then he died 😦 and they now have Tom Petty radio. They play all his songs (Sirius never goes off air) and segments of “Buried Treasure.” His irreverent humor is such a delight. Gone too soon, but you can tell he loved his life.

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      1. I’ll look forward to that. I used to host a call-in show, but we ended at midnight, so I don’t know. I do remember, though, when my partner was still driving the (very) early shift on the Minneapolis airport limousine and was listening to a jazz show, the host asked anyone who was listening to send him a post card and let him know what they were doing up. It might’ve been 4 a.m., something along those lines–and was before cell phones, hence the request for postcards. So he knew what went on after midnight on the radio, but he was wondering what happened on the listeners’ end. And he may have wondered if anyone was even out there.

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