Radio

Dr. 'Samuel' Johnson (Photo: Getty)

When Dr Johnson went to Tahrir Square

Radio

Goodness knows what the Great Cham would have made of Radio 4 airing an adapted version of his philosophical fable, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps he would be surprised to see it done at all: the works… Read more

Prof. Sunil Khilnani (Photo: Getty)

The history of India in 50 personalities

Radio

The idea of using objects — salt, cod, nutmeg, silk — to turn history lessons into something popular and accessible has been around for at least a generation. It’s a great way to avoid complicated chronologies and the need to… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

What happened to the children who survived the Holocaust?

Radio

‘I call Zelma Cacik who may be living in London,’ says the announcer, in the clipped RP accent of the BBC in the 1940s. ‘I call her on behalf of her 16-year-old cousin…’ The voice betrays no emotion, no feeling,… Read more

Prince Alemayehu (Photo: Getty)

This radio programme almost made me like Piers Morgan

Radio

An extraordinary black-and-white photograph of a young black boy taken on the Isle of Wight by Julia Margaret Cameron in 1868 shows him in exotic clothes and a heavy silver-bead necklace, like a chain-of-office or a prisoner’s collar. He looks… Read more

Linda Miller, Crossrail project manager for the Connaught tunnel. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Britain has the lowest percentage of women engineers in Europe. Why?

Radio

‘It’s hard to know how to tell this story,’ she said as she began. ‘Because it’s so loaded. It’s so heavy-duty.’ Lore Wolfson was talking about the death of her husband, Paul, or rather about the onset of the illness… Read more

Alan Davey: the new controller of Radio 3 (Photo: Getty)

‘Ratings aren’t a pressure for me,’ says the new controller of Radio Three

Radio

The new controller of Radio Three, Alan Davey, was on Feedback this week (Radio Four) talking to listeners about his plans for the network. Roger Bolton, who presents, wondered if Davey was worried about ratings — Radio Three hovers around… Read more

Bette Davis, 1940 (Photo: STF/AFP/Getty)

Why Bette Davis loathed theatre

Radio

It was called Frankly Speaking and by golly it was. The great screen actress Bette Davis was being interviewed by not one but two men: George Coulouris, with whom she co-starred in Hollywood, and a BBC producer. ‘It’s a little… Read more

The Reverend Libby Lane with Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu Photo: Getty

Why wasn’t there more about the other faiths over Easter on the BBC?

Radio

There was no shortage of Easter music and talks across the BBC networks with a sunrise service on Radio 4 followed by much fuss and fanfare for the ‘live’ relay of Libby Lane’s first Easter sermon as Bishop. A significant… Read more

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Did Radio 4 have to deal with the Germanwings disaster as it did?

Radio

‘You can hear pretty clearly the sound of one of the helicopters and you can see it in the darkness,’ yelled James Reynolds over the noise of helicopters, police sirens, vehicles on the move. It was 8.10 a.m., the Today… Read more

Serial producer Dana Chivvis Photo: Meredith Heuer

Does the future of radio really lie in podcasts?

Radio

To a debate on the future of radio at the BBC where it turns out not to be a discussion on who’s listening now but how they’re listening. The Reithian ambition to inform, educate and entertain needs to change, says… Read more

Mikhail Bulgakov Photo: Getty

Radio is the best way to mug up on the classics

Radio

If ever I found myself at a pretentious literary party obliged to play David Lodge’s ‘Humiliation’ game and to confess to the great books I’ve never read, I’d only escape the ignominy of winning (by being the most ignorant) because… Read more

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What it’s really like to live in India today - stressful

Radio

After a month cooped up in a Scottish castle, no internet, no TV, and no radio, watching hectic snowflakes billowing through the wooded hillside opposite my window, I realise that what I’ve missed most about this supposed deprivation has not… Read more

Recording sound effects Photo: Getty

All radio drama should be as good as this Conrad adaptation

Radio

The aching hum of crickets. The susurrus of reeds. The lapping of waves. The unmistakable noise of a sound technician ripping a duster in two as the heroine’s dress was torn, thuggishly, by a character in the heat of passion…… Read more

US President Theodore Roosevelt's teddy bear Photo: Getty

The pleasures and perils of podcast listening

Radio

No phrase is better calculated to tense the neck muscles of a regular podcast listener than ‘We have something special for you now.’ Having your radio shows downloaded to your phone, music player or computer, rather than plucked out of… Read more

Cinema For Peace Gala 2012 - Inside Ceremony

Why Putin is even less of a human than Stalin was

Radio

LBC likes to tell us it’s ‘Leading Britain’s Conversation’, though in the case of weekday pre-lunch presenter James O’Brien you’ll have to sit through a series of bombastic monologues from the host before any punters get a word in edgeways.… Read more

Andrew Heptinstall and blind photographer Rosita McKenzie. Photo: Andrew Heptinstall

The amazing story of the blind photographer

Radio

Perhaps the news that Radio 5 live will be the only BBC station (under the new broadcasting rights agreements) to broadcast ‘live’ golf will ensure that its audience stays above the six million listeners now dreamt of by its controller… Read more

Names of BBC Arabic, Qatar-based Al-Jaze

Why BBC Arabic is booming

Radio

Last weekend BBC Arabic celebrated 77 years since John Reith (as he then was) launched the first foreign-language service of the fledgling BBC Empire Service with an announcement (in English) in which he declared that the programmes would always be… Read more

Professor Peter Piot Photo: Getty

The man who discovered Ebola

Radio

By some quirk of fate, just as news reached the papers that the Scottish nurse who had contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone was now recovered, the guest on that Radio 4 staple Desert Island Discs was the scientist… Read more

Leo Tolstoy

Radio 4’s War and Peace: almost as good as the book

Radio

To have listened to Radio 4’s marathon ten-hour adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace as it was being broadcast on New Year’s Day must have been both wonderful and a bit weird. Like soaking in an ever-replenishing warm bath, indulgent,… Read more

Ludwig Van Beethoven Photo: Getty

Was Beethoven influenced by yoga?

Radio

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… Read more

Actor, playwright and broadcaster, Alan Bennett Photo: Getty

Without childhood traumas, how did Alan Bennett ever become a writer?

Radio

‘So — take heart,’ said Alan Bennett, sending us out from his play, Cocktail Sticks, on a cheery note. The treatment for cancer had been gruelling, but that was 15 years ago, so… This Radio 4 production was adapted (and… Read more

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Why Serial is the future of radio

Radio

The fuss may now be over, the last episode of Serial revealed. But if the global success of WBEZ Chicago’s latest weekly podcast is a portent, then the future of radio lies not in static daily programming but in the… Read more

Jarvis Cocker Photo: Getty

Children’s radio was once at the core of the BBC - now it’s all but disappeared

Radio

It was a bit of a surprise to hear Jarvis Cocker, the embodiment of cool and former frontman of Pulp, confessing to a love of Singing Together, a BBC programme straight out of the 1940s, with its clipped pronunciation and… Read more

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Why you have to listen to this year's Reith Lectures

Radio

Each year the Reith Lectures come round as Radio 4’s annual assertion of intellectual authority, fulfilling the BBC’s original aspiration to inform and educate (although not always to also entertain). Each year, though, it’s hard not to feel a certain… Read more

Sister Aimee Semple McPherson Photo: Getty

Was this Christian pioneer of radio evangelism a fraud?

Radio

She was the sequinned star of the airwaves back in the 1920s, the first preacher to realise the potential of the wireless, long before Billy Graham and co. But who now has heard of Aimee Semple McPherson, the radio evangelist?… Read more

"Gulf Stream" by Winslow Homer Photo: Getty

Why radio is a surprisingly good medium for talking about art

Radio

You might think it a fool’s errand to attempt programmes about art on the wireless. How can you talk about pictures or sculptures or any other visual form without being able to see them? But features on artists and their… Read more

Indian troops during the  First World War Photo: Getty

The voices of Indian PoWs captured in the first world war

Radio

At six o’clock on 31 May 1916, an Indian soldier who had been captured on the Western Front alongside British troops and held in a German PoW camp stepped up to the microphone and began to speak. Not in Hindi… Read more

The gate of Buchenwald concentration camp on which it is written "Jedem das seine" (To each his just deserts) Photo: Getty

Many more Germans were displaced in 1945 than Indians during partition

Radio

What Radio 3 needs is a musical version of Neil MacGregor. The director of the British Museum and now a stalwart of Radio 4 is an intellectual powerhouse but his talks on radio are so clear, so crisp, so deceptively… Read more