28-Listening In - Some Thoughts on World Radio


I was an early adopter of technology and got this USB computer attachment which allowed me to transmit audio from my computer to my stereo system in the next room. I liked to listen to some BBC programs on the Internet so I started beaming them to my stereo. Dave Raven created his program, Raven n' Blues from his houseboat on the Thames just outside of London, England. It was a really good show and I listened to it often.

I have a friend who is from Great Britain. Before he got a high speed connection, up north, I used to record a BBC program called "Sorry I Haven't a Clue" for him on my computer. When I had recorded a nice handful of them I'd send them on a cd on to him along with other stuff that I hoped he'll find interesting. CDs were still a thing back then.

From the BBC and Radio Netherlands I went further afield and discovered Australian radio. I discovered that some regular radio programs could be downloaded as mp3 files, which saved me a lot of recording. That's how I got into the Podcast world. A Podcast is just an Mp3 sound file that can be listened to when you have time, either on the computer on on an iPod or other Mp3 player. I went online and purchased some software called FeedDemon to collect my favourites for download. I liked to listen then to Mark Blevis from Ottawa with Electric Sky. I subscribed Dave Raven's program too and Austin Riffs which is no longer available.

I started putting my radio and Podcast mp3 files on a Creative Zen mp3 player, so that I could listen to them at night. I have a condition called Restless Leg Syndrome which keeps me awake sometimes, so I always have something interesting to listen to: talk shows, documentaries, drama and music. A radio show called Thomas Edison's Attic has early music -- some pieces taken from wax cylinders and some from very early 78s. It's like having an ear into the past. I like radio theatre: plays and skits and early radio sitcoms like Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve and some dramatic programs like Inner Sanctum. In radio they seem to like dramas that have you on the edge of your seat - the boat going down with all hands or something dreadful coming up from the basement. I have a fair number of those in my podcast collection.

I'm picking up little catch phrases from listening to old time radio skits such as saying, for someone who's a skinflint, that they're "tight as a toreador's pants". We always used to say "tight as the bark on a tree" but I thing "toreador's pants" covers it adequately.

I'm started doing my own Podcasts now which gave me an appreciation of what goes in to producing these things. It takes some learning. What I'm trying to say is that through the Internet you can listen to the radio from anywhere around the world, including the USA's NPR (National Public Radio) and PRI (Public Radio International). I'm getting a full-fledged education just lying in my bed and listening to the world. I sometimes take my Mp3 player with me when I'm traveling around and people wonder might why I'm so plugged in. Well, I've got something to be plugged into.

When I did this chapter as a Podcast I put a little sound clip at the beginning that was taken from a 1902 Edison gold-molded record from http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/index.php where they have thousands of these early recordings, many on wax cylinders that have been transposed for listening in. I put it in to illustrate that folks have been listening for a long, long time.

I was at Hugh's Room in Toronto to hear Maria Muldaur some years ago. At the same table were Suzie Rotolo (Bob Dylan's former lady) and Bob Harris, a well known presenter from BBC Radio 2. Suzie was surprised that I had listened to WNYC's Leonard Lopate on a regular basis. Bob Harris and his friendly associate were also surprised to learn about my collecting "I Haven't a Clue" from BBC Radio 7 and that I also listened in to Dave Raven's Raven 'n' Blues, and Westway, a radio soap opera. We had an instant commonality there. Radio is the tie that binds.

Wavy Line

© Sonia Brock 2005

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