A week ago I speculated here about what listeners might do with BBC radio content if allowed to play with it. I came up with something quite linear – a kind of listener-curated Pick of the Week. Here’s something a bit more playful (or dumb, depending). It’s the fifteen clips from Sunday’s Pick of the Week, selected by Graham Seed, all at once.
Click play to hear the cacophony. I think it adds up to quite a pleasing, BBC radio-shaped lump of sound – and another way of expressing the variety and unpredictability that is BBC radio. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could provide tools for listeners to play in this way? Respectful apologies to all the programme-makers involved (and to Graham Seed too, of course).
It’s not entirely unproduced – I stacked the fifteen clips as tracks in Garageband, trimmed them all to 30 seconds each and then staggered them to come in at four-second intervals. This means that the maximum you’ll hear at once is eight. There are no fades, apart from the final clip, which seemed to need one.
You’ll hear: Supermarket Symphony (Radio 4), Composer of the Week, Gian Carlo Menotti (Radio 3), Barbara Windsor’s Funny Girls, Hylda Baker (Radio 2), George Bernard Shaw, Widowers’ Houses (Radio 3), Bird Fancyers Delight (Radio 4), Afternoon Play, Gilda and her Daughters in Looking for Goldie (Radio 4), Twenty Minutes, Romance (Radio 3), Down and Out in the the City of Angels (Radio 4), The Robeson Files (Radio 2), Johnnie Walker meets Neil Diamond: New York City Born and Raised (Radio 2), Tim Key’s Suspended Sentence (Radio 4), A Hundred Years of Mervyn Peake (Radio 4), Afternoon Play, Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think of You (Radio 4), Desert Island Discs, John Graham (Radio 4) and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue (Radio 4).
It was a quite brilliant weekend for BBC radio – so much good stuff that really stood out. Loads of radio that wasn’t just gripping, interesting, entertaining but was also sonically fascinating – a uniquely radio experience. Sounds that I really wanted to share. Another testament to what’s unique and different about radio (and BBC radio in particular, obviously).
There was the awesome boom and roar of 5 live’s Haye-Klitschko coverage, Craig Charles’ inspired heavyweight Motown vs Stax evening over on 6 Music, Paddy O’Connell’s brilliant riff on the Johann Hari story on Broadcasting House, the oddly intimate sound of sheep shearing on Radio 4’s On Your Farm, Saturday Live’s hilariously unpredictable live broadcast from centre court on the morning of ladies’ final day, a gorgeous Beverley Surprise Minor on Bells on Sunday, Stewart Lee on why comedians are better than everybody else, Jarvis Cocker introducing a concert of electronic music from Radio 3, Von D. May’s favourite synth sound with Mistajam on Radio 1, mindblowing Hindu devotional music at the crack of dawn on Asian Network, and a song about Elvis’s sock by the Valentines on Radio 2.
And it got me thinking about how you get people to share great radio, to tell their friends about it, to spread the loveliness. At the BBC, we’ve got ‘sharetools’ (the palette of social network links you’ll find on most BBC content pages these days) and embed buttons and these days there’s quite a lot of content that you can download and keep forever but rights and agreements and regulation make it difficult for us to allow listeners to share the actual sounds. But could we allow listeners to go beyond ‘liking’ our stuff and encourage them to lift clips, assemble montages of good stuff and share them with friends? I mocked up a sort of sample montage from the amazing output I heard at the weekend – no clip is longer than about twenty seconds and the whole thing is less than four minutes. I’ve added in a little linking element between clips – the kind of transition you might offer listeners to pick from a menu if you built a tool to do this.
Would you share BBC audio in this way? Would you go to the trouble of curating a montage like this if BBC radio provided a tool to do it? And what form would a tool take? A button on programme pages? An addition to the transport controls in Radioplayer? A mobile app?
Download the MP3.