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Sunday, September 28, 2008

BBC Radio

Seeing Ourselves As Others See Us

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.


VW said...

Good Old Aunty Beeb! Aunty Beeb was what the BBC was known as around the world on shortwave radio

When I was a kid, I had a short wave radio and I would often tune in the BBC World Service along with a myriad of other stations from around the world!

In the age of satellites and the internet, communications are instant and the age of short wave is quickly passing. But in the 60's, tuning in that far off station and figuring out what language was spoken and what country it was originating from was always a mystery worth chasing.

You brought back some sweet memories! Thanks!


Stephanie Frieze said...

I guess I first fell in love with the BBC from movies set in WWII. It seemed that all the good guys had their ear pressed against the radio to hear how the war was going.

I, too, listened to the shortwave channel on my parent's old floor model radio/phonograph. It seemed like magic to be able to hear the human voice from the other side of the world. Little did I know what magic I would live to see!

Lorraine Hart said...

Sitting around the radio...ah, the memories...listening to the woman on the BBC who would tell us children's stories. She always began with, "Are we sitting comfortably? Then, we will begin."

I still count on the BBC News for more information and less infotainment.

We used to laugh ourselves silly with The Goon Show!

NPR is wonderful too. I remember how exotic FM radio seemed to me, as a young girl. Warren Haynes wrote a great song called "Blue Radio" about it. That's on his "Tales of Ordinary Madness" album.

Stephanie Frieze said...

KMUN, 91.9 FM in Astoria has a children's story half hour Sunday through Thursday called "Where's My Pajammas?" KMUN is a Costal Community Radio Station that broadcasts many NPR shows, but has many more that are local and all done by volunteers. Dave says he wants to host a show when we are in Ilwaco full time. Of course his would be Oldies. :-)