Magazine article The Spectator

Radio: From Ted to Troy

Magazine article The Spectator

Radio: From Ted to Troy

Article excerpt

How many digital radios have you bought over the years? How many are still working? Of the four I used to have, only two are now working and those only in certain parts of the house. I wonder, if a nationwide audit were conducted, how many DAB sets would be found that are still up and running and in daily use? It's far easier for me to take a laptop into the kitchen and listen online than to struggle to hear through the wheezes and pops emitted by the DAB radio. Why the signal never seems to improve, even in crowded urban areas, is a puzzle. Meanwhile the amount of audio content you can tune into online is booming, either created as single podcasts or streamed by thousands of new radio stations, such as Radio SouriaLi, set up by Syrian émigrés and currently broadcasting to the Middle East and online, as yet only in Arabic, a soap about refugee life modelled on The Archers .

Radio 4 Extra's recent link-up with America's equivalent of the BBC -- National Public Radio or NPR -- took a podcast sensation, Serial , and gave it a nationwide airing on the BBC's digital network. Now it's also bought into another NPR podcast, Ted Radio Hour , a weekly survey of the latest Ted talks. Ted (technology, education and design) has been around since 1984 when the first Ted conference was held, bringing together from across the world people with ideas and attitude. The talks are recorded and stored online for easy download afterwards and for evermore. Each talk lasts strictly no more than 18 minutes, the brevity ensuring a certain way with words, a focus, a kind of delivery that's shaped and determined by its short span. They're pithy, to the point, often punctuated by personal narratives; creating a kind of campfire philosophy.

On Sunday night Guy Raz brought together edited highlights from a number of talks on the subject of love and relationships, or rather the mystery of why and how they work, or don't. It was a welcome respite from the overwhelming news of last week to hear Angela Patton talking with such healthy enthusiasm from Richmond, Virginia, about her work with Camp Diva. She set up this non-profit organisation to encourage teenage girls of Afro-American descent to reconnect with their often semi-absent dads. Each year she helps the girls to organise a full-scale Prom to which the dads are invited. One year, though, one of her girls admitted that the reason her dad could not come was that he was in jail. Undeterred, Patton took the Prom to the jail, complete with balloons, a red carpet, a podium and DJ. …

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