Review of 2012: Radio

A bit of a giggle was just what we needed

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The Independent Culture


Golden Funnybone award

Given a year that seems to have been particularly grim even by recent standards, it's incumbent on the funny people of the world to cheer the rest of us up, and there's none funnier than the American monologuist David Sedaris. In his own slightly twisted way he addresses the human condition but, more importantly, he makes us laugh. Meet David Sedaris, the third series of which aired in the autumn on Radio 4, ranged over a discussion about whether it's acceptable to talk on the phone when on the toilet to an account of hanging a sister's Barbie doll out of the car, reeling it in occasionally to check on the damage. He was on again in Food for Thought at Christmas, repeated from last year. Could a bit of Sedaris become as much of a festive-season radio tradition as Morecambe and Wise on the telly? Could we be so lucky?

Voice of the year

In a strong field, it has to be either Clare Balding or Cerys Matthews. Balding's massive Sport and the British series on Radio 4 was brilliant, while Matthews, as well as fronting the perfect Sunday morning show, on 6 Music, also made one of the year's best single programmes, Songs of the Sacred Harp (Radio 4), about the shape-note singing of the Deep South.

Bright Young Things award

This goes to the 14 young people who made Hooray! I'm a Single Parent for Radio 1 in June. BBC 2012 Community Reporters from east London trained for the occasion, producing an inspiring demonstration that not all single parents are feckless wasters.

Stinker of the year

This wasn't a programme but an ongoing Big Mistake – the latest kicking inflicted on the World Service: more job losses, news coverage reduced and the good arts programme The Strand going in April. The World Service helps Britain punch above its weight. Have the decision-makers never heard of soft power?

Continuing Pleasures award

It goes jointly to Radio 3's Late Junction and Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone and Freakier Zone on 6 Music. A happy new year to everyone involved in that triumvirate of Radio heaven.