The triumph of radio

THE popularity of radio is soaring; much of it is due to it being accessible via the internet, mobile phones, and other innovations. In the UK alone 17.4 million people listen to the radio when online; this is an increase of 3 million in just 18 months.


Over 14 million listen to radio ‘listen again’ services; 8 million download radio on to their podcasts according to radio industry authority Rajar. Thanks to radio we can listen to niche and hundreds of international stations.


I always held the belief that had television been invented before ‘the wireless’ we would all by now regard radio as a massive leap forward. Television simply isn’t in the same league when it comes to choice. It never can compete because one can listen to the radio while doing many other things; many of them enjoyable. In essence you get two for the price of one.

Try driving or repairing a car; piloting a yacht, strolling with nature or playing with your model railway whilst trying to keep up with a television drama. You have to watch television but when you listen to radio your imagination creates the pictures.

Imagine crocheting or cooking, holding a conversation when distracted by a television that demands your undivided attention.

Can you picture yourself sweet talking your beloved and maybe popping the question to a backdrop of television absurdity?  It doesn’t work does it? The idiot-box is so intrusive it always wins. Surely it is far better to have a little background audio wallpaper.

Not so long ago I was in a bar in which several television monitors were on full blast; a sports channel I seem to recall. They killed the atmosphere stone dead: you couldn’t hear yourself speak yet no one was actually watching the screens.

It reminded me of George Orwell’s novel 1984 in which television monitors pervade everything.

It was said that in the Soviet Union they had a different kind of television: there it watches you. In terms of intrusive mind-control and social management that isn’t as far from the truth as it appears. Television dominates. It is invasive, interfering and manipulative.

British Press Awards Columnist of the Year, Matthew Parrish: “Television lies.  All television lies. It lies persistently, instinctively and by habit. Everyone involved lies. A culture of dishonesty surrounds the medium and those who work there live it, breathe it and prosper by it.”

Relatively speaking radio can be a spin-free zone too; one can listen for many happy hours without being irritated by political slant. My own favourite is Classic FM for lovers of real music: there you are; there’s my spin out of the way.

Television demands your total attention; this is why we are glued to our sets. We sit gasping for a cup of tea but prepared to wait for the commercials before putting the kettle on. Panic sets in if the soap resumes before it boils but it is a minor irritation if the doorbell or telephone rings when the radio is on. If it happens during a TV drama our world comes crashing down and the language turns blue.

Like most other husbands I knew when not to telephone the wife. If I got a terse, ‘yes, what is it?’ I knew I had drawn the short straw; my charm and matrimonial relationship was playing second fiddle to a television show or drama.

Television kills pleasantries, it slaughters conversation; it is a destroyer of marital bliss; it is opium for the children, it spews out a constant stream of political spin.

It is wholly dependent upon supine and vacuous personalities and entertainers who for most part wouldn’t get a second booking at a corner pub.

Give me my beloved radio anytime.

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