Friday, 30 October 2009

Cheating on Aunty

Recently I have been reviewing a long-term relationship. Over the years it has been an on-off affair. It may be time to move on.

The companion of choice to whom I refer is, of course, Aunty Beeb. She’s usually around somewhere, often tuned to Radio 3, 7 or the World Service.

When the World Service lived on short wave, it was a radio treasure trove, with all manner of programmes - comedy, drama, documentaries, quiz shows. Now it’s become a 24 hour news channel. As news goes it’s pretty wide-ranging (and not Westminster-obsessed like the domestic news) but it is marred recently by some deeply patronising on-air adverts.

The worst of these is BBC Tourette Syndrome. This affliction causes the station to broadcast the phrase “BBC” as often as possible. The most extreme BBC-count I’ve managed is eleven times in five minutes. One jingle begins “BBC BBC World Service” and sounds like a high tech speech impediment.

Aunty is displaying a range irritating behaviour at the moment. The old dear seems to have forgotten what she’s for and who she is aimed at. Perhaps she’s getting smug in her old age or trying too hard to impress her younger nephews and nieces. Or maybe she’s become a dotty old bat who has forgotten who pays her license fee.

She needs to be more careful. I could be tempted to cheat on her. It is an awfully wide world and Aunty is not the only one with a home on the web. Google ‘FStream’ and you can download a free application to your computer or iPod which gives you access to thousands of radio stations from around the planet. There is every genre of music, every kind of station you can think of and some of it is extraordinarily good.

If you enjoyed Buena Vista Social Club, then wait ‘til you hear a genuine Cuban radio station. Annoyed by the Daily Mail? Then go apoplectic with Rush Limbaugh on U.S. Republican radio stations. All of life is out there.

Listening worldwide feels exotic, adventurous and opens up new horizons. It may not all be in a language you happen to understand but at least there’s less chance of being annoyed by the adverts.

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