Radio limbo pt. 2

Yesterday I wrote a post about how I don’t know what radio to listen to any more.

My experiments tuning into other radio stations have been pretty hit-and-miss. In the comments Simstim suggested Radio 4. Once you’ve taken Five Live out of the equation, Radio 4 is one of the most likely options for me to take. The Today programme is okay, but as soon as it’s finished I’ve got to turn to another channel. For a start, I don’t even understand what programmes like Midweek are supposed to even be about?

And some of Radio 4’s comedy programmes are okay, but others are insufferably smug. They are like some evil combination of QI and Have I Got News For You. Smug, smug, smug. Egotistical contestants with smartarse answers. Of the panel quizzes, Just A Minute is the one I can handle — but only just.

The thing about Radio 4, though, is that it isn’t the sort of thing you can just turn on and be 50% sure you’ll hear something good. There are some interesting documentaries in the evening, but also lots of boring programmes, Melanie Phillips and goodness knows what else lurking under there. To sum up, Radio 4 is good, but only if you already know what programme you’ll hear when you switch it on. The same applies to Radio Scotland. The newsy programmes are pretty good, but apart from that there’s not much reason to tune in.

None of the music stations meet with my approval. Virgin Radio is the worst of the bunch. It’s a nightmarish mixture of Jeremy Clarkson, Dave Nicey and general dad rock fustiness. You will never hear the sound a letter T makes because they’re all replaced by Ds. 6Music is similar but young folk haven’t wised up to its crapness yet. It’s a bit quieter but it’s more smug. Anything involving Steve Lamacq must be avoided at all costs. Meanwhile Radio 2 is responsible for every boring MOR pop star in the country.

Radio 1 isn’t too bad, but if you’re averse to shouting you might have to avoid it. Zane Lowe is terrible. He yelps all over the music. He’s all excited, even though the song he’s just played sounded exactly the same as the one before, and that sounded the same as the one before as well. The Breezeblock is pretty good, but Mary Anne Hobbs really gets on my tits. The Blue Room was good — whenever I could be bothered to get / stay up at 5am to listen to it.

Now I’ll only tune in to specific music programmes, and I can’t be bothered with tuning in at the right time. I’m the sort of person who’s got to listen to the radio while doing something else, or at least when I’m lying in bed (which is probably not a healthy thing to do in the middle of the day). The only decent music programmes are on at funny times so I never end up listening to them, and if I do it’s using the BBC’s listen again service.

Podcasting may save me. I think I’m finally getting into podcasting. I hope the BBC extend their podcast trial soon. The BBC podcasts I listen to at the moment are The Chequered Flag (F1 geekery) and Broadcasting House (because it’s quite a good programme, but broadcast at 9am on a Sunday which as far as I’m concerned doesn’t even exist).

I would love for there to be a Mixing It podcast. I’ve not properly listened to Mixing It since Christmas because I simply can’t be bothered listening to it. But if I could download it and listen to it, say, on my way to university, I would never miss it.

While we’re at it, does anybody know of any good podcasts? Something I’d be interested in?

Browsing around the Radio 1 site I came across this Musicubes thing. Kind of basic (you have to choose the genres you’re interested in rather than any smart / Pandora style wizardry), but I guess it’s pretty neat.


  1. Beyond Today, PM and occasionally File on 4, there’s very little on Radio 4 that I can listen to for more than a few minutes. I’m told Andrew Marr and Melvyn Bragg’s programmes on Mondays and Thursdays are occasionally quite good – aside from that, the Shipping Forecast is compelling (in a predictable sort of way). But I take the point – actually, one of my biggest problems with R4 is the often astonishing amount of religious content on there.

    As far as alternative radio goes, I’ve found in the past that when you mistakenly tune into a foreign station, it’s strangely engaging. However, be thankful: at least you don’t get BBC Radio Cornwall.

  2. I can’t stand the Today Programme, in my view it exemplifies all that is wrong with the current state of British politics and current affairs broadcasting. The World Tonight I find much more amenable, it goes out of its way to avoid getting sucked too much into the Westminster Village vortex and actually manages to cover world news in an interesting way. Broadcasting House on a Sunday morning sounds very much like classic R5L but on R4, being presented by
    Fi Glover helps this impression.

    Yes, many of the comedy programmes on R4 are shit and, like you say, smug, but as well as the veterans (JAM, ISIHAC, and the News Quiz) some of the stuff they have on there is total class: That Mitchell and Webb Sound, The Department, The Consultants and so on. Plus of course you can catch many of the radio versions of stuff that transferred to telly over on BBC7.

    Re: music stations, Radio 2 is increasingly sounding like Radio 1 circa 1995, which is no bad thing in my view (even to the point of bringing Chris Evans back in, maybe not such a good idea that one…) In addition to Mixing It, the other R3 programme to listen out for is Late Junction, but that’s focused more on the world music end of things rather than the highbrow John Peel approach that MI takes.

    Podcasts? Rarely listen to them, although there are a couple of gaming ones I subscribe to and I’ve started downloading “From Our Own Correspondent” on a semi-regular basis.

  3. I tend to listen to a mix of BBC Radio 2, Smooth FM and Classic FM. Occasionally I try Radio Wave (Blackpool based), or Century FM, but that’s basically it.

    Sometimes I listen to, but then I am into metal.