I am an NPR devotee. At home in Gig Harbor KUOW, 94.9 FM is the background of my life, meeting most of my needs for news and entertainment. Prairie Home Companion is a sort of religion for our family and the Weekend Puzzler is my husband’s touchstone of the week. I could go on and on about the NPR programming, but that’s not why I’ve come.
Overnight KUOW broadcast’s BBC’s Americanized World News Service. Originally they included the cricket scores which I enjoyed even though I cannot make heads nor tails of the game, but if I shut my eyes and listened I could imagine that I was not in my bed in Gig Harbor, but in an English country inn listening to the radio.
Listening to the BBC Radio gives Americans an opportunity to view ourselves from an outside point of view, from the view of cousins surely, but without some of the emotional attachment we feel to institutions and policies. Seeing ourselves as others see us is an important exercise personally and nationally. Not only that, but it’s a good idea to find out what is happening in the rest of the world from a source other than our networks and cable news. Listen to BBC and you’ll discover that although our dollar has not been faring well in comparison to the British pound or the Euro, Britain has economic problems of its own and banks like Bradford and Bingley are in as much trouble as WaMu.
It is true that American politics and economics effects the health of countries around the world, but there’s something insufferably conceited in the rest of the world being familiar with our culture and institutions and Americans’ complete oblivion when it comes to the lives and concerns of the rest of the world.
When I am away from home getting my BBC fix via NPR can be dodgy, but BBC Radio can be streamed in a myriad of languages. For fun you might try listening in Persian. It’s a lovely sounding language, but personally, I think that anything sounds lovely when communicated in a British accent.