When I’m working at home I usually have Radio 2 on in the background. I like the music – contrary to its old-fashioned image, they seem to play a good range of modern stuff, but without the genres that aren’t particularly to my taste – and the presenters. It’s certainly light years ahead of any local station. But I’m increasingly irritated by the public interaction, particularly in the mornings.
Terry Wogan’s show is heavily based on listener comments, but what’s meant to be pithy and/or insightful is increasingly just ignorant. I don’t know whether it’s always been like this, or if they’re filtering differently, but it seems far more cynical and authoritative than before, and certainly isn’t intended to be funny. Global warming features prominently, and is genuinely spoken about as just another lie; this is backed up by definitive statements based on the movements of birds in gardens, the everpresent fallacy that scientists are always changing their mind, or – my particular favourite – opinions apparently based entirely on the meaning of the words ‘global’ and ‘warming’. Health advice and the general awfulness of any public service / American take up the rest of the conversation. It’s no longer wry, it’s just a sad and unnecessary affirmation of the worst old-person stereotypes.
I get bored of the barstool cynicism, but a moment this morning particularly bothered me. The hourly news had relayed the awful story of Mark Speight, reporting how he’d been found dead at a London railway station. Having listened to this news of a guy whose life was so dreadful he felt the only way out was to kill himself, somebody wrote in to point out that Britain doesn’t have railway stations, it has train stations12.
I guess that’s a way of avoiding dealing with the real world, and I’m not particularly surprised somebody felt strongly enough to write in with such a thing. But why read it out? What does that add to anything?
Still not defecting to Radio 4, though. I can at least feel happy singing along to the inter-snark songs on Radio 2 – I don’t think I could cope with the depression of Radio 4 at that time of the morning.