Sunday, July 05, 2009

Five things I have learned this week...

I've stopped listening to the radio when driving to and from work. I can't bear the news anymore because it's always the same:
  • A politician gets caught fiddling their expenses
  • A company that has been bailed out by taxpayers' money has just paid large bonuses to its senior managers
  • Someone has decided to secure their place in paradise by blowing up several dozen strangers
  • 'Swine flu' is now at an epidemic/pandemic/plague/total annihilation of humanity level (followed by the muted acknowledgement that most people have actually recovered)
  • A soldier has been shot in Afghanistan.
It can only be a matter of time before the BBC start broadcasting repeats of the news. Perhaps they already are.

But even worse than the news is the irritating, banal chat of the 'drivetime' presenters. Even Radio Three - once a glorious bastion of elitism - now has a limerick competition during its morning programme. I do not want to listen to puns about Liszt written by someone who wears leather elbow patches on their tweed jacket and hasn't had sex for 37 years, if ever.

Fortunately, the BBC now makes podcasts available of some of their best programmes and I no longer have to endure inane presenters and depressing news stories. I can now listen to clever people talking about fascinating subjects and by the time I get to work I feel invogorated.

Here are five things I learned from last week's podcasts:
  1. Cancer drugs aren't expensive because of the research and development. They are simply priced at a level that 'the market will bear', according to Adam Wishart, who made a documentary about the ethics and economics of cancer treatment.
  2. Companies that bottle and sell spring water are, arguably, violating the United Nations article that defines drinking water as a human right, not a commodity.
  3. The BBC is working on a new project nicknamed Canvas that will incorporate digital and broadband services into a new, free service, available to all.
  4. John Bradshaw, the Chief Judge who tried King Charles I for treason, wore a hat with metal inside it to protect him in the event of an attack.
  5. Russell T Davis believes that the nature of writing for film and television is about to change significantly, as a new generation of writers are appearing who have grown up in the computer game era.
Thank God for the podcast. I have been liberated. Here is a link to what is, arguably, the best podcast of all.


C. B. James said...

You should try American radio. Wait, no you shouldn't, no one should.

Thanks for the link. I've subscribed. I wish more international radio was available via podcast, myself. I'd love to hear it. Generally, the BBC does a much better job of covering events in the U.S. than our own media does.

If you ask me.

Steerforth said...

I've listened to American radio extensively during my road trips to California and New England.

I was surprised by just how local the stations were - once you were on the highway in the middle of nowhere, the selection was pretty limited. I ended up listening to a Christian drama about a man who kicked the bottle and found Jesus, with incidental organ music.

I thought the PBS-style stations were very good, although the announcers' voices reminded me a litte of Comic Book Guy in the Simpsons. Overall I thought that the radio stations were about quantity rather than quality.

The BBC went through a hand-wringing phase a few years ago when they were concerned that Radio Four was elitist, middle-aged, middle class and white. They commissioned some audience research and discovered that the listeners were from a remarkably diverse range of backgrounds, but the one common thread was that they were all intelligent, articulate people.

The BBC has now 'branded Radio Four' as the station of 'intelligent speech'.

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

I am totally in love with BBC radio 7...drama, detective stories, re-run classics and retro comedy - all good stuff ( except CBBies which is like being on the acid trip from hell )

ev said...

The direct blood relative of Judge John Bradshaw (Marcus Bradshaw) lives three doors up from me. Judge John (being solidly dead) was dug up during the restoration, and was hung, drawn and quartered along with Cromwell's body. Their heads were stuck on traitors gate and stayed there for 20 years, until Cromwell's fell off when the pikestaff he was impaled on snapped. A soldier nicked it and it resurfaced at various times during history. You remember Hilary from Ottakar's Head Office? Her mum lived near an eccentric Dean who was the last 'owner' of the protectorate's noggin. He used to bring it out of the box to horrified and delighted screams from the children. Now it's buried somewhere secret in the grounds of Cromwell's college.

Steerforth said...

What a wonderful story. What has happened to Hilary?