Radio Leave Well Alone

By Chisholm, Kate | The Spectator, February 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

Radio Leave Well Alone


Chisholm, Kate, The Spectator


Maybe he was asking for it. Maybe his article in the New Statesman was a subconscious attempt to undermine his brother's authority. But what was the point of grilling David Miliband about his relationship with his brother Ed on the Today programme (Radio 4) on Monday morning? What we wanted to know was whether Miliband senior had any fresh ideas about how to tackle the grievous problems of our economy, and especially how to remedy our inability to ensure that there are enough jobs for our young people to find gainful employment. Who cares whether he's still simmering with rage about his brother's seizure of power? Why, then, did John Humphrys try to reignite a Westminster bonfire that actually went out 17 months ago when Ed won and David lost?

It was just so embarrassing to overhear Humphrys picking away at David's wounds.

'Did you check it with your brother?' asks Humphrys, about the article. As if grown-up brothers would consult each other so closely about everything they do, like partners rather than siblings. 'I note you didn't say he's the best man for the job, ' remarks Humphrys. But only a saint would have been able to swallow sufficient of his pride to concede that possibility. 'People inevitably are going to pick apart every word you say and to think you're getting at Ed.' Are they, really?

Haven't we got better things to worry about, like the state of the overdraft, or the lack of money for proper bandages at the doctor's surgery down the road?

Breakfast time, for a lot of us, is the wrong time of day for chatter. In the morning, most of us don't want to hear what anyone else is thinking, let alone feeling. We've not yet switched on the appropriate filters, protecting us from the slings and arrows. The problem with the new touchy-feely Radio 3, criticised elsewhere in this magazine in the past few weeks, is it's just too personal. Do we really need to know when or where Mr or Mrs Blog from Bognor first heard their favourite piece of classical music?

The latest Rajar figures (detailing how many of us are still listening to the radio, and to which stations) have revealed yet another increase in the numbers of us tuning in to radio, and this includes Radio 3, up by 0.2 per cent, or 0.1 per cent, depending on whether you compare the figures with last quarter or this time last year. The audience is gradually returning to the BBC's loftiest station in spite of its very noticeable change of tone. …

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