Today, I had to get up at an unusual time. My receiver was still tuned in to BBC Radio 4, so I heard for the first time how the World Service, which takes care of the night shift, hands over to Radio 4 again at 0530h UTC. Like a sunrise, this is almost worth getting up early for: You get a full five minutes of a very pleasant medley of British folk tunes. Doing a bit of research to look for that piece, I found out that this has been going on for 33 years now, and that it was, in the words of the HHGG, scheduled for demolition earlier this year, had it not been for these guys! I say! They mounted a campaign for an old hat piece of music, broadcast at an unearthly hour, and they were successful! Only in Britain...
But that's not all! On the same single, there is another well known tune, namely Sailing By, which precedes the Shipping Forecast. This is probably the most boring radio programme ever (unless you are a sailor, of course), and I am sure you will agree if I give you its most spectacular moment to date, broadcast on 10 January 1993: Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey. Southwest hurricane force 12 or more. That's it! Nonetheless, it serves one purpose splendidly: It puts me to sleep almost instantaneously, which is no doubt due to its set rhythm, calm enunciation, and list of characteristic names from around Britain that make it sound quite poetic when broadcast. I was rather thrilled to read Wikipedia's section on the Shipping Forecast's influences on popular culture. Ah, simple pleasures ...
For completeness' sake, let me refer to two other recordings that I am currently listening to, both of them distinctly more contemporary (i.e. Jazz): Pamela's Parade is a great netlabel release. Les ventilateuses is really smart. And then, I did something I haven't done in a while: I bought a physical CD: Stoa. Evidently, ECM is one of the very few labels which can still afford to not be online even today: their productions have a distinctive sound, which you don't get anywhere else, and that's true for Stoa. More about that later.
Early days, late nights
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Bless Radio 4, one of the sweetest things to return to the UK for.
Chris, did you also hear the new Radio 4 European theme launched on April 1st this year (scroll down this page).
Surely, that was an April's fool, wasn't it?
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