If you listen to one thing…

iPhone on table next to candle

All these years I’ve been a committed radio lover, I’ve been dedicated to whatever is playing live at the moment that I press the switch. I enjoy the random prize of whatever is on, so I’ve always rejected the idea of podcasts: I don’t have the time / the inclination / the bandwidth / etc.

Then Tom persuaded me to listen to Serial. Seriously, you guys, have you heard? If you haven’t downloaded this and been listening on your commute / night run / supermarket sweep / etc then you have definitely been missing out.

But, it made me realise I’ve been missing out on so much more! I know, I’m late to the party. So now I’ve been binge-listening to Short Cuts, The Digital Human, and This American Life. So, just before you head on over to download Serial, please tell me: what else have I been missing out on? Find me over on Twitter or Instagram.

The Shipping Forecast

Ship in a bottle at Maritime Museum, Greenwich London

The shipping forecast: great bastion of the BBC, firm rock in the ever-changing storm of radio content. I love Radio 4 for its variety, but I love the shipping forecast for its consistency. No matter if the seas are peaceful or raging, you can always rely on the stoic voice of the forecast reader. With steady rhythm, this poem of the everyday gives hints of distant unknown waters. Most of the places sound exotic and unknown (Cromarty, Lundy, Shannon). But I get a ridiculous pleasure from the thought that our island is a moniker worthy of a region in the forecast: Wight.

British Isles Sea Regions map framed next to a mug and book

I couldn’t resist this print from the V&A and, after a year of sitting in its wrapper, finally had it framed by the lovely Shorelines in town. Tom brought this mug back for me from a summer trip to Wales. It is my firm favourite; perfectly proportioned and beautifully glazed. And of all 31 forecast regions to choose from, I was especially pleased to see that Wight made it on to the mug.

The shipping forecast has an audience of hundreds of thousands, well beyond the seafarers who rely on its information, its reaches to bedside radios across the land as people drift off on distant waves. (And for those of you who prefer to drift off to music, this is the perfect shipping tune from the talented King Creosote).

As Many Passions As People

Busy terminal

As is always the way with Radio 4, I found myself listening to a person I didn’t know on a subject I knew nothing about, and loving it. Yesterday, Phil Harding spoke on Making History about discovering his love of archaeology. (Oh my, that voice! Like a cross between a laugh and a burr, the audible equivalent of twinkling eyes.) He spoke of his affinity for his subject, how it was ‘always in him’, feeling “as happy as larry” on his first dig, and being “as happy as larry ever since!” What a privilege to feel so sure of your place in the world, and in what you’re doing!

Ken Robinson recently wrote a book on ‘finding your element‘, filled with examples of people doing what they love and their journey towards discovering it. Among other things, it’s a call for education to be structured in a way that encourages young people to develop their individual talents and interests.

I always find it inspiring to hear about people who have found their passion and I love finding out about what draws them to it. Maybe I’m just nosy! But, for a collector of the eclectic, on people and their diverse and surprisingly fascinating lives, you couldn’t find a better spot than Radio 4.
Happy 90th Birthday BBC!