Why it’s on the list: This was a last minute addition to the list, inspired by the book Radio Head by John Osborne. I am a big fan of radio – I’ve worked in it at a very local level, I studied it at university, I did my dissertation in it and I listen to far more radio than I watch TV. I do tend to get stuck in a rut though – at the moment I listen pretty much only to BBC Five Live at home, and Jack FM in the car – or Heart if the kids are with me. The internet gives us access to thousands of radio stations across the globe so I want to try a few out for size. The challenge will incorporate the nationals (I’ve never listened to BBC 3 for more than 5 mins before), some locals and anything else that happens to appeal – or not, because this is a challenge about broadening my horizons.
How/when I’ll judge this task to be completed: When I have spent at least an hour listening to each of ten stations, and written a brief report on each here.
When I lived in London I was a big LBC fan. In fact, it goes back further than that – my mum used to listen to LBC when I was a kid, I remember the afternoon phone-ins, and then as a teenager I, huddled under the covers with a portable radio, listened to Christian Dion the psychic and the sex phone-ins at night. I’ve recently bought an O2Joggler which has 100 internet radio stations on it, including LBC, so I’ve had it on a lot over the last couple of weeks, including all day today. Nothing much has changed – they don’t have the psychics any more but it is endless phone-ins, now branded London’s Biggest Conversation (LBC … geddit?!) Today I caught the end of Nick Ferrari’s show – he goes back a long way and also used to be on Talk Radio, which I loved. Then a young chap called James O’Brien, very opinionated, made a big thing about being paid to air his opinions on radio – stirs people up, which I guess is what he’s meant to do, but sometimes uncomfortable listening. Next was Jeni Barnett, another LBC old hand – and her voice is annoying, very shrill – phone ins about asthma, teenage sex and the election. So same old same old really, but they say you can’t take the London out of the girl and I kind of feel like LBC connects me with my roots!
2. Nation Radio
We discovered this Welsh radion station whlst driving up to Carmarthenshire for our holiday … in fact, we picked it up somewhere around Cheltenham but lost it in Mid Wales! However, I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been listening to it online since we’ve come home. It plays a really good mix of rock and indie music, mainly modern but some good old stuff in there too. Definitely my kind of music, and sounds a bit more grown up than NME or XFM which have the effect of making me feel like an OAP sometimes!
3. Real Radio
Ugh. Another station we listened to a lot whilst travelling in Wales. Wouldn’t be surprised if this was something to do with the Heart franchise. Dull dull endless pop and pap. (Just googled and actually Real Radio is run by the Guardian Media Group, which surprises me. Would have expected something a little bit more … I don’t know, intelligent!)
4. Radio Carmarthenshire/Radio Pembrokeshire
I’ve put these in together because to all intents and purposes they are the same thing – they share studios, presenters and sounds! Local radio at its worst – shout outs to people t work, cheesy music, cheesy presenters giving out “local information”. Better than Real radio … but only just! And if I hear another Stacey from Gavin and Stacey soundalike doing an advert I’ll scream (or do ALL women in Wales sound like Stacey?)
5. 6 Music
Can’t believe I’ve gone so long without discovering 6 Music properly, and that it took the threatened closure to make me listen in! Like most of what they play. There’s such a mix that occasionally I do turn on and off again pretty quickly, and I still tune in to Five Live first, but if I’m at my desk and fancy listening to music I tend to tune to 6 now. A hit!
6. Radio 4
OK I’m finally willing to embrace middle age and admit that I listen to Radio 4 sometimes and quite enjoy it,. not everything – some of the programmes are tedious – but I like the comedy and some of the documentaries and I’ve even listend to the Archers on the odd occasion!
7. Glide FM
Oxfordshire’s newest music station and you know what, it’s okay actually – quite chilled stuff like Lighthouse Family and Morcheeba type stuff. Over Xmas they had lots of Xmas songs but hopefully it’ll be back to normal soon!
8. Absolute 90s
I missed out on a lot of music in the 90s because I was busy bringing up babies and being intimidated by a psycho, so I do enjoy listening to this station and catching up on what was actually quite a decent decade for music.
9. Smooth Xmas
Smooth is not a station I’d normally listen to but I did come across this one day when I was baking mince pies and it suited my mood perfectly! Mind you, having listened to it for about four or five hours now (including on Xmas Day) there’s a limit to how many Xmas songs you can hear in one go. It was fun on Xmas Eve, though, when “The Real Santa” was on air taking calls from kids … very sweet!
10. Resonance 104.4fm – London’s arts radio station
This was actually the radio station mentioned in the Radio Head book tht inspired me to do this challenge in the first place. I’ve listened to it on and off over the last couple of years and it’s a most odd little treasure. Sometimes all you get is random sound; other time sthere are plays, discussions or niche genre music. Definitely worth tuning into just to see what’s happening!