Arts: Radio Week: Who needs a snooze button...
Saturday 13 June 1998
"Leave him dear!" cried an inner voice, so I've been flirting desperately with Henry Kelly who keeps Petroc's old seat warm back at Classic FM. But life on Planet Kelly is not life as we know it. In Kelly's world, trombone-playing nuclear families send in requests for their piano teacher on the eve of her retirement. These sterling sentiments are cloyingly relayed by Kelly, his delivery drizzled with oil (corn oil). It's a style not heard since old doodah and thingy lit up the lives of the BFPOs with Two Way Family Favourites. So I retreat further. Back to the welcoming arms of the Today programme.
Legend has it that Today sets the news agenda for the entire day. Politicians who aren't neatly fielding the inquisitorial equivalent of a dolly are apparently glued to Radio 4 for the duration, keeping their fingers on the pulse of Middle England. In which case maybe they are as baffled as I am that its five-million listenership can be so easily satisfied by its often strangely soporific mix.
Most radio alarms come with snooze buttons, but who needs them when you've got Weather and Thought for the Day? Every morning I listen to some over-familiar meteorologist carve the British Isles into yet another implausible weather system: "Heavy showers with some sunny spells later in the South, Outer Hebrides, East Midlands, Western Scotland and far South West" and every morning I lose the plot about half way in - what was the middle one again?
Anyway, I still find it virtually impossible to get my head round centigrade. Does 19 degrees mean a cardigan or not? You knew where you were with "Cloudy 66".
James Naughtie, who remains a fresh voice in the Radio Reigate of the Today programme, seems to understand. "And the weather is ... awful" he announced on Thursday. Only to be gently reminded by John Humphrys that some people (rice farmers, taxi drivers, ducks? ...) might regard heavy rain as a godsend.
By this time I'm fiddling insanely with the dial, wading through the caffeinated cotton wool that pads the airwaves in the early hours. Suddenly I hit a nice bit of Gershwin. Gershwin sans Petroc. Of course, I know it's only a matter of time before he sticks his oar in but at least the earmelt is punctuated by some decent tunes.
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