By Caitlin Kelly
Some of you might be old enough to remember Radio Caroline, the British pirate radio station that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary — it began broadcasting, from an offshore ship, on March 27, 1964. It was the UK’s first commercial station and challenge to the BBC.
My earliest media memories are of lying in bed in the dark, around age seven, listening to — what else? — the Beatles on my transistor radio.
I’m bereft without the radio.
In Nicaragua, in the village with no electricity or running water, there was, even there, a transistor radio hung on a large nail. At night, it played a politician’s speech for hours, and, in the morning — in the native tongue, Miskitu — familiar Christian hymns How Great Thou Art and What A Friend We Have in Jesus.
Long before the Internet or television, radio linked us. It still does.
Here’s a review of the 2013 film, La Maison de la Radio, about Radio France, which I saw last year and enjoyed.
I’ve done a lot of radio interviews about the subjects of my two books, one on guns in America and the other on low-wage retail work. When discussing my gun book I was invited onto NRA radio as well as NPR; it was interesting explaining each side to the other!
I listen to a great deal of National Public Radio, especially topic-specific shows like The Moth (story-telling by regular people); The Brian Lehrer show (NY-area politics and economics), the Leonard Lopate show (culture); Studio 360 (ditto), This American Life (three segments on a theme), RadioLab, Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show (smart, long-running interview shows hosted by women), and others.
This American Life, with 2.2 million listeners, is now considering handling its own distribution. I was heartened to read here, that I’m not the only fogey still using an actual radio:
While online and mobile listening are growing rapidly, particularly among younger listeners, “there’s still a lot of listening going on in radio,” said David Kansas, chief operating officer for American Public Media, whose other offerings include “Marketplace” and “Prairie Home Companion.” Distributors, he said, do not just provide technical support, they also work with stations to raise the visibility of a show in local markets: bringing in program hosts, creating content related to local issues and helping with live events.
I also like Q, an interview show from CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi.
When I have an hour in the morning, I listen to BBC World News and always hear stories I never would know about from American media. You might also try the Canadian evening national news show As It Happens; when I lived with my father in my teens, every dinner began with its theme music.
I love being able to iron or cook or clean or just lie on the sofa in the dark and focus on the music and words; television tethers me to a specific spot and steals all my attention.
Do you listen to the radio?
What sort of shows or music do you enjoy?
What are some of your favorite shows — and where can we find them (streaming on-line)?