Thursday, 27 October 2011

The end of the affair


From the age of around 12 I became an avid fan of Radio 4, or the "Home Service" as it was originally called. It shone like a beacon of quality between Hilversum and Luxembourg on the illuminated dial.

I'd listen on big old valve radios beside my bed and later transistor kits which I built myself. Of course as teenage years progressed I switched over to the Pirate Stations, Caroline and Radio London, where the young tearaways Blackburn, Everett, Peel and Walker were wreaking their youthful mayhem. However I soon switched back to the intelligence of Radio Four with its news, discussions and comedy programmes. Robert Robinson was my hero.

This affair with the Four went on most of my life, sometimes with long sessions in the car and later intimate listening in bed with the radio alarm clock bought from a Freeman's catalogue and paid off over several decades.

However I have to confess that it's over. The magic has gone.

I've decided in recent months that Radio Four has turned into an aural nightmare of scary stories, consumerist tedium and unfunny comedies. And of course the omni-present news. News of war, pillage and murder in graphic detail. News of instability and global system failure. News of grasping greedy Western economies, famines and banking crises. John Humphries berating anyone in public service, none of whom are earning as much as he is. I've had enough.

Yes, I'm off to Radio Four Extra. Classic Comedies. Plays. Minimal News. Ed Reardon, Claire in the Community, Paul Temple, Smiley, The Navy Lark ..... what's not to like?

Perhaps I'm just getting old.

18 comments:

Tim said...

Well, that's a pretty good rant. What is Radio 4 Extra? Do I need one of these digi-thingies to get it? The last one I bought from those Roberts people didn't work.

Rog said...

It's what was digital Radio 7 Tim. You could try listening to Radio 4 and Radio 3 simultaneously - that might work.

moreidlethoughts said...

Ooh, I wonder if my flash new digital telly-with-audio stations could pick it up?
In the (NZ) Dark Age I used to adore such programmes via shortwave. It was like extra sound effects on The Goons and Much Binding in the Marsh.

(But I expect I'll have hear it via something like bloody Youtube!)

By the way...has Scarlet really abandoned me?

Z said...

Ooh, can I rant too? This sodding 24-hour news - it's just the same stuff over and over. They don't look for extra stories, it's a repeat of the headlines. Nothing more happens so they say it all again. Dreadful, ghastly, I don't believe anyone wants it.

And I agree with you about most of Radio 4 (though you have been listening to Just William?) but digital bloody radio! My digital radio works - if it's positioned just right, on a windowsill. Nowhere else. I can get it on the television, but I'm the only person who listens to the radio, so it drives the Sage out of the room. And I can get it on the computer, as long as the reception is absolutely tickety-boo, otherwise I get long pauses while it's buffering, whatever that is. And that limits me to one room again, anyway.

Tim said...

Yes, and another thing, why do the best programmes come on just when I'm about to go down the paper shop or up the supermarket or upstairs for my siesta or out washing the car or stir-frying my supper? Eh?
Oh, and what's a paststch?

Macy said...

Getting a digital radio changed everything. These days I flirt between stations constantly.

Though iPlayer's the best. With the fantastic iplayer I can get Radcliffe and Marconi - best show ever.

Martin said...

I agree, Rog. Radio 4 is becoming a bit of a drag, and one time hero Humphrys is losing the plot, more often than not. Radio 4 Extra is a safe haven...for now.

Rog said...

Dyna: I think they were talking about making BBC iplayer available worldwide but with a subscription (what?!) required. Scarlet will be back - she's been upset by a certain blogger.

Zoe : yes they've made a bit of a hash of this digital radio - most think VHF is find and they can't switch it off until every car has converted which isn't going to happen. Podcasts are a good way of controlling your listening and I've also just discovered the record function on the Tune On Radio app.

Macy: they just need to get the in cars! R &M were a top Kaz pick.

Martin: Yes Humphrys is turning into a pastiche of himself. Justin and Evan are much much better. The Now Show and The News Quiz are still top listens but you can get them anytime via the podcast.

Tim: Radio on demand is the answer for someone with such a frantic lifestyle! I've no idea what patscht means and can't even spell it.

Roses said...

I grew up with music radio, so I've never been seduced Radio 4.

What I will say is having constant news makes me feel suicidal by the end of the day. I can't bear the constant stream of whinging, whining, economic despair and statistics of deaths due to stupidity and natural disaster.

I take my news in small doses from the internet. Much better.

Oh. Excuse me. I seem to have ranted.

Rog said...

Roses: Totally agree. I'm much happier not listening to the news or at least having it filtered down to local level by the EDP.

letouttoplay said...

I try not to listen to any news. It's like the Australian soaps that my kids used to watch, you only need to catch one in fifty episodes to find out what the whole story has been like since you last made the mistake of listening in.

. said...

We have grown up following similar radio paths I suspect. I guess that when it changed it's name to Radio 4 many decided that it was a stage too far and the country was going to the dogs etc. Things move on and change. I've never understood why The Archers are on R4 as it's a bloody soap. Drama it ain't. If things stand still they die. Embrace the changes.
Paul Garrard - of-course-blog

Rog said...

Lettie: That is just SO true. People who consume the news constantly must be on mega doses of Prozac.

Paul: Welcome on board my man. Any friend of Jon Richardson is welcome here. The Archers should move to commercial radio and get sponsored by Strongbow.

Mike and Ann said...

We haven't had a T.V. set for about fifteen years, but we do have wireless sets scattered about the house. The one in my workshop, and the radio alarm in the bedroom are both permanently tuned in to the Home Service (well alright - Wireless four), the one in Ann's Sewing room, and the one in the kitchen are usually tuned in to the Third programme, or Classic FM, whereas the more complicated job in the drawing roomis varied to whatever mood we're in (this one has an electric gramophone built into it, on which we play C.Ds). Don't know what we'd do without our wirelesses, but I think you're right Rog, the 'talking' programmes are not quite so good lately.
Oh, and I'd forgotten the one built into the computer. Thanks for the tip Rog, think I'll try Radio 4 Classic on that one.

Rog said...

Mike & Ann : I'm surprised at your comment, I had no idea that you had electricity ;-) I assumed the gramaphone was a wind-up.

It's "Radio 4 Extra" to look for on your digital radio or BBC Iplayer. You may just catch "Take it from Here" with Dick Bentley & Jimmy Edwards.

Z said...

Did the Sage show you his gramophone, Rog? That's a wind-up all right.

Rog said...

Yes it was wonderful!

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. Ref your last remark - 'Perhaps I'm getting old'. NONSENSE!!! me boy. You're in your Prime. Like me.