Friday, February 13, 2015

World Radio Day

Today is World Radio Day 2015, although you'd never know it from listening to the radio here. Our national broadcaster, the CBC, said nary a word, which just shows you what a slack-assed job they're doing these days. I only know because I was listening to the BBC World Service at 2am this morning, where they announced the fact and followed it up with - you guessed it - a feature about young people and the importance of radio in their lives. Us 40 and 50 somethings are always forgotten in these kinds of features, and yet it seems, judging from the habits of my kids and their friends, that we middle-agers are the demographic that keeps quality radio alive.

I don't know if radio is important in your life, but it's one of my constant pleasures, from the moment I received my first radio as a 9 year old (a crackly AM set contained within a black stuffed poodle with his VERY OWN PINK PLASTIC BRUSH), to now, when I generally listen on my iPad mini via the app Tune In Radio. There I can listen to any show I like, on any station I like, although I mostly gravitate to the BBC World Service and NPR. I'm a lot fussier about my radio these days: as I kid I liked Top 40 shows and didn't mind those horrible blaring commercial breaks, but now I prefer to listen without commercial interruptions. My favourite shows are mostly about gardening, food, or history, but some voices have me in thrall with their accents alone. Alan Johnson, I'm talkin' to you.

In fact, I hold such devotion to certain radio hosts that I sometimes think of them as my radio boyfriends (and girlfriends). My kids think this too odd and creepy to contemplate but they're still young and unmenopausal. They don't lie awake wondering where their sound sleeps of old went. My kids are, for the most part, uninterested in historical clips from the past, news clips from Syria, or quirky stories from around the world, although Eldest Son is starting to listen to Wittertainment and The World, so there IS hope for them yet.

For the most part I have no idea what these voices look like, although I just now googled PRI's The World to get Marco Werman's name (for the past 3 years I thought he was saying Marco Gorman and spent way too many moments wondering what sort of parent would name their child MarcoGorman). I like it this way. The feeling their voices gives me reminds me of a Leonard Cohen poem:

I heard of a man who says words so beautifully 
that if he only speaks their name women give themselves to him.
If I am dumb beside your body 
while silence blossoms like tumours on our lips 
it is because I hear a man climb stairs and clear his throat outside our door.

Oh steady on. I'm not going all 50 Shades on you. I'm just writing a paean to my favourite radio hosts on this day, this World Radio Day. I love listening to you all. I hope to listen to you all for many years to come. Hats off to them. Hats off to the radio, from one of your devoted listeners.

Some of my favourites:

Dan Damon, Ros Atkins, Marco Werman, David Green, Razia Iqbal, Kai Ryssdal, Karin Giannone, Steve Evans, Alan Johnson, James Menendez, James Coomarasamy, Owen Bennet-Jones, Julian Marshall, Nuala McGovern, Mark Kermode, Simon Mayo, Sheila Dillon, Tim & Joe, and everyone at Gardener's Question Time (James Wong, Bob Flowerdew and Bunny Guinness - you rock).

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