I do like listening to the wireless - younger readers may be unaware that this is an affectionate term for radio amongst us elderly folk - I like to fall asleep listening to it but Mrs Big Mouth isn't so keen. I like to have it on in the background when I am pottering about the house or typing away on my keyboard at work. It can be a nice noise to have around.
Unfortunately I have found myself increasingly disillusioned with British radio stations. Here are some reasons why.
- No subject suitable for discussion on the radio has ever been improved or enhanced by a member of the general public phoning in to have their say on the matter.
- If radio presenters stopped saying "I'm sorry, we have run out of time" when interviewing someone interesting then they'd have far more time to devote to interviewing interesting people.
- Although the antagonistic style of interviewing we tend to be treated to really gets my goat, so perhaps they shouldn't bother.
- I speak to people on dodgy phone lines all the time. I can work out what they are saying. Stop cutting experts and commentators off because of a bit of cracking and fuzz.
- Alan Green.
- You and Yours.
There are some notable exceptions and many wonderful things to listen to on the wireless. Radio 4 is largely splendid although I prefer to listen to the World Service breakfast show rather than Today as the presenters put very little spin on the stories, offer pretty fair and straight interviews and you get a much broader coverage of world news. Radio 3 is also great at that time of the day with some wonderful and varied music on offer.
Late Junction on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings is still the best thing on our airwaves and whilst I am getting a bit too old to stay up and listen to it live I do make full use of the iPlayer to catch up during the day.
But I have started to cast my radiophonic net further afield of late thanks to TuneIn Radio and their rather fine iPhone and iPad apps.
TuneIn, like many similar sites, offers connection to pretty much any radio station on the planet that has a live internet feed. The apps enable you to browse the whole list by genre or location (or via maps on the iPad version), bookmark your favourites, record shows or songs for playback later and access any of the listen again options offered by the different stations.
It has revolutionised the way I listen to radio and the radio I listen to. I have found, for example, that while I hate listening to people in my own country phone in to a talk show I find it fascinating to hear New Zealanders calling Newstalk ZB, especially in the afternoon where I am which is the early hours of the morning where they are. Lots of chat about sheep farming and roadworks.
At night I sneak a headphone into one ear and doze off listening to ABC Radio Australia, the international service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The feed I plug into is the one that covers the Pacific region. News from islands I have never heard of and the big stories from Australia itself.
I will also channel hop a fair bit and have recently checked out traditional Chinese music, Canadian news from Vancouver Island and some mad Japanese talk show of which I understood not a word. Great fun.
But I spend most of my time listening to Triple J from Australia. It is a bit like BBC 6 Music but without the celebrity presenters or current wave of 80s-obsessed bands, which is a relief, but with added swearing. It has led to some wonderful music discoveries such as Seeker Lover Keeper, Owl Eyes, Boy and Bear and Lisa Mitchell. I can check out their breakfast show in the early evening but there is usually something decent on at any time of the day. They also have a hilarious political satire called Restoring the Balance that is well worth checking out.
They are about to launch a new station which will play unsigned Australian bands 24 hours a day. That may well be your idea of hell but I think it is a fine experiment and I wish it well. Triple J Unearthed starts broadcasting in October.
Right, I am off to listen to a phone-in about sheep shearing. See you later.