Radio Highlights: Sat 28 Feb – Friday 6 March 2009

Away from home and working late this week, I need to plan my listening to provide some welcome relief and take my mind off any bouts of homesickness I might suffer from. Thus I commit to the following perceived radio gems in the coming week.

The Talented Mr Ripley / Saturday 28 February 2009, Radio 4, 2.30-3.30pm
Happy to confess that I haven’t actually seen the film or read the book. But going on the way I totally got into listening to hour long segments of the radio dramatisation of To Serve Them All My Days this time last year, I’m relishing the opportunity to listen to Patricia Highsmith’s novels over 5 weeks.

The Bottom Line / Saturday 28 February 2009, Radio 4, 5.30pm
Evan Davies hosts a discussion about the future of computing and Microsoft vs. Google amongst other things. I’m looking forward to hearing about the thorny issue of cloud computing in the hope I might hit upon some rouse to sabotage the growing popularity for cloud computing.

Stand-Up With the Stars / Sunday 1 March 2009, Radio 4, 1.30pm
Comic Relief has landed on Radio 4. It was inevitable. In this little number, Evan Davis, Libby Purves, Peter White and Laurie Taylor try a spot of stand-up for the charity. I will be listening for all the wrong reasons.

Woman’s Hour / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 4, 10.00am
I’ve recently basked on a Twitter and Facebook holiday. It’s been bliss. Life has returned to normal. So in a bid to see whether I’m missing anything (it certainly doesn’t feel that way) I’ll be listening to Woman’s Hour doing social networking in Monday’s programme.

Front Row / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 4, 7.15pm
Leslie Garrett joins Katherine Jenkins and James Taylor to talk about singing live in large arenas. I’ll listen and pass on any tips I think UK Eurovision representative Jade Ewen might need.

Performance on 3 / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 3, 7.00pm
Clearly there’s going to be a bit of a scheduling clash with Front Row (above) but it’s ages since I’ve heard a regional orchestra that isn’t either a BBC or part-funded BBC band. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra always seemed rather good in the past. Are they now? A fairly safe programme of accessible repertoire from the Lighthouse in Poole, Dorset.

Night Waves / Monday 2 March 2009, Radio 3, 9.15pm
Everyone’s favourite irritatingly intelligent, well-informed and unsmug radio presenter Matthew Sweet isn’t presenting this edition of Night Waves. Instead it’s Bidisha talking dance with studio guests Sylvie Guillern, Robert Lepage, Russell Malipant and Alexander McQueen about a new Sadler’s Wells collaboration called Eonnagata. I’m sharpening my pencil and retrieving my notebook in preparation …

Readings from Bath / Tuesday 3 March 2009, Radio 3, 3.30pm
Series of three short stories from the Bath Literature Festival kicking off with a short from Pippa Haywood. There aren’t enough short stories around it seems to me, at least not on radio.

Schoenberg’s Gurreleider / Tuesday 3 March 2009, Radio 3, 7.00pm
As challenges go this is one of the more demanding ones as far as I’m concerned. The Philharmonia Orchestra play Schoenberg’s seminal work. It’s a tough one. But I’m ready for something tough and challenging to listen to.

Performance on 3 / Wednesday 4 March 2009, Radio 3, 7.00pm
The BBC Symphony Orchestra runs over some Strauss, the Chopin Piano Concerto (a personal favourite of mine) and Ravel’s La Valse in a concert recorded at the Barbican last week. Nice.

I will also be watching Newsnight Review to see what the panellists thought about Doctor Atomic opening night .

Radio: Night Waves

If you’ve not listened to it before, Night Waves might possibly not be your cup of tea.

Some might consider it the driest of speech radio. Studio bound, round table discussions nestled away late on weekday nights on Radio 3.

I’ve not listened for a long time, not since I made a smallish video about a Radio 3 drama I sat in on rehearsals for during the Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival last year. It was then I saw Night Waves presenter Philip Dodd host one or two discussions recorded for broadcast later on in the week.

Dodd is a brilliant radio host, the kind of intelligent, well-researched, provocative host I appreciate listening to every time I want to hear something a little out of the ordinary and simple all at the same time.

What appeals to me about Night Waves is it’s relatively simplicity in radio terms. There are no bells and whistles. There’s no pre-requisite in terms of knowledge or experience on the listener. Just run a bath, ensuring you get in it with an open mind. Let the sound of voices engaging in discussion wash over and – because its brilliantly executed – soon you will enter that discussion like you’re right there.

Clearly I’m gushing. Shameful, isn’t it?

This evening’s programme was unexpectedly well-timed. One or two developments at work presented a few challenges during my day. This combined with my own stupidity rushing down the stairs at White City tube resulting in a painful accident meant my journey home was prolonged, very painful. I didn’t get home to see the third episode of Anne Frank go out.

When I got home, I laid in the bath rehearsing all the things I’d say at a meeting tomorrow. Clearly the fall at the tube station had brought out a little anger in me. I got in the bath, switched on the radio to hear Philip Dodd interviewing playwright David Hare.

Hare talked about institutions, specifically the BBC, the way institutions had lost their way in terms of the way they’re perceived by the public and by him as well as explaining how he feels about television drama today (it makes for interesting listening) compared to the work he did as a TV playwright in the late 80s. When he moves on to talking about those individuals who make videos or write blogs and such like I was cheering.

When you listen to the interview you’d think I wouldn’t agree, but something in the way the discussion played out left me cheering at the end of it.

Listen to it.  You’ll need to listen to a short poem and then you’re into the interview with David Hare.

Free Thinking Festival: Is Privacy Dead?

Is it wrong to be blogging about an event which has been recorded for radio not intended to be broadcast until Monday 3 November at 9.15pm? Am I revealing something I shouldn’t be even though I know it will happen because I sat in a room and listened to a man tell me and one hundred or so other people ?

It’s a question I’m thinking about having come out of a debate at the Free Thinking Festival which posed the question “Is Privacy Dead?”

In an age of online communities, blogging, micro-blogging and picture sharing, I find myself thinking intensely about my personal activities online. It’s scary. I can’t get it out of my head.

What should I reveal about myself? What do I reveal about myself online? Do I reveal too much? Am I revealing my true self or, a convenient skewed image of myself? Should I be more private? Should I reveal more? Would anybody read anything I wrote if I did?

And if it is I have an online persona and a real one (and personally, I would argue that they are one and the same otherwise both pursuits would be absolutely agony day to day) are there times when I don’t want to participate online ? Are there times when my mood, my insecurities and fears curtail my online activities? Thinking about those specific things, should I in fact be more careful about how I conduct myself online in an act of much-needed self-preservation?

Don’t you loathe people who ask too many questions and can’t/won’t/can’t be bothered to provide any answers? Well, the truth I feel the pressure of time on me. There’s no time to answer the questions even if I knew the answers. It’s a fast moving world. The bar here at the Free Thinking Festival is buzzing – the “Speed Date a Thinker” crowd are busy preparing for their hour of fun and there’s a competition going on between me and another other chap sat across from me busily tapping away at his laptop.

What I’m struck by – yet again – is how a relatively brief session listening to the likes of Bill Thompson, psychologist Sonia Livingstone, Cultural Historian Jonathan Sawday and Geoffrey Rosen has set my mind buzzing with excitement.

The most pointed example raised in the hour long debate hosted by Philip Dodd was this. Geoffrey Rosen explained how some students he knew of would take to live-blogging lectures and seminars. Was this a use of technology which was to be welcomed?

The fact is it’s here. We all do it. Those of us who use the internet rely on opportunities like these. There’s a buzz. A desire to provide a personal response to events as we witness them. We want to share where we are at any given moment in time even if the majority of the audience don’t care or would rather prefer it if we didn’t clog up the internet with our ill-considered babble.

The answer is impossible to arrive at. My interviews kick off in around fifteen minutes time and the speed daters are about to start their speed dating session.

I also have to get this blog published as quickly as possible. I have to beat the bloke sitting opposite me. I know he’s blogging about it. I just know. Why would he look so intently at his laptop in the way he does? I must beat him to it. Seeing as he’s Bill Thompson, the need seems inexplicably even greater.  

Disappointingly it appears I’ve failed. Mind you, it might have helped if I’d been a little less verbose.

You can hear the Free Thinking Debate “Is Privacy Dead?” on Monday 3 November at 9.15pm on BBC Radio 3.