Whilst I know that radio forms an essential part of my own existence, I genuinely believe radio possesses the qualities to be universally appreciated. It can entertain, educate, inspire, inform, persuade and improve.
Radio’s great asset is its diversity.
For music, there is no greater platform. Music can be personally thrilling, but shared it becomes something far more monumental. The act of devoting time to discovering an unforgettable new sound and rediscovering forgotten records is only further enhanced by communicating and sharing your feelings about music. More importantly, it doesn’t demand attention or crave focus. If anything, the records on the radio sound better as they envelop your bedroom or bathroom or kitchen, the wallpaper backdrop to conversation or creativity. Every genre is generously covered, at best without condescending insult or unnecessary interruption, but with genuine appreciation and love. From the alternative, independent and contemporary of BBC 6Music to the dulcet and divine Classic FM, the 80s Soul of Smooth FM, the drum and bass and black music pioneers at BBC 1Xtra, the unashamed swagger of 97.4 Rock FM, to the chart-conscious BBC Radio 1 entertainment factory, music is utterly available for everyone.
Yet radio consists of so much more than music. Challenging political debates, concise and clear news reports, harrowing and heartbreaking documentaries and dramas, farcical comedies alongside razor-sharp satire, passionate sports discussion, science queries, theatre reviews, historical narratives, gaming, rambling, gardening, lunar exploration and foreign language – radio encapsulates virtually every enthusiasm, whim and fancy of every person. Once again, it does so for the most part with great dignity and delicacy, reflecting the enthusiasm of those who create it.
This isn’t a long considered post, rather one written extremely quickly on the back of an article which I’ve just linked. It’s not intended to sound high-minded and indulgent. I appreciate not everyone enjoys listening to the radio. Anyone who knows me will know the majority of the time I have my headphones glued upon my ears, listening solely to my own music library.
But should you not listen to much radio, I can only hope this might inspire you to listen in, if only for a few minutes. If you are interested, here’s a short list of a few stations and shows which have particularly improved my days:
§ BBC 6Music – intelligent, witty, whimsical and somewhat wry, it’s musically my favourite combination; indie, alternative 80s, soul and breaking live sessions. Wakes me up and carries me through, providing the musical score to studying and reading.
§ BBC Test Match Special – Indefatigably British and utterly charming. Full to the top tweed drawers with whimsy and gentle anecdotes, its skill is being both compelling for the cricket naysayer and stimulating for the addict.
§ Absolute Classic Rock – Simply brilliant fun. Though the only station my phone can pick up whilst on the bus in Edinburgh, I’d listen regardless; eclectic, fast-paced and fret-destructively-excellent.
§ Gaydar – Though I’ve only ever listened to the station once whilst at my uncle’s in Brighton, I’ve never heard radio delivered with more enthusiasm and joie de vivre. Essential and obscenely cheering, though in very small doses.
§ BBC Radio 4 – By far and away the best provider of quality drama and comedy, wrapped around news and provoking arguments. So very often it provides genuinely enlightening listens.
§ TalkSport – Whilst it perhaps lacks the listening prowess of TMS for the non-sport fan, it is the platform for a nation to celebrate its love of sport. Constantly flourishing with a devoted listenership.
§ Metro Radio – A staple of going home, with its focus upon North-Eastern thrill-seekers and party-addicts. I’m certainly not in either camp, but its brash sound is reassuringly nostalgic of car journeys spent with my sisters controlling the dials.
§ XFM – Steadfastly dedicated to sharing new music, giving emerging talent a fantastic and credible platform to play to a huge audience.
These are merely a few of a plethora of stations which I have enjoyed for a number of reasons. I encourage you to find more, and if you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them.
I’d just also like to share the last few words of a beautifully endearing book by John Osborne, Radio Head. The confessed radio fanatic reflects on a month spent listening to a different radio station every day for a month:
“Radio has given me everything I have needed. I’ve never wanted to stop listening. I’ve felt I’ve learnt more about myself and the world just by playing with the dial on my radio.”
I’d say that quite nicely sums it up.
The Midweek Mixtape