RADIO
The little boy would sit very still in the woods. As he listened, the silence around him developed into a complex soundtrack of small wild creatures, whispering, scuffling, occasionally singing with piercing beauty, coming in and out of focus, menacing and exhilarating. When he grew up, the boy became a psychotherapist, but if he wants to recapture the feeling of excitement he first experienced in the wood, he listens to Webern.

After such a build-up, so did the rest of us, attentively. And, for the first time, I really understood why anyone should choose to. Adam Phillips was right: it was mysterious and wonderful. This was the beginning of a superb edition of Private Passions (R3), which last week won this year's top Broadcasting Press Guild radio award. An invitation from Michael Berkeley, its presenter, must now rank as an honour greater even than one from Sue Lawley.

Berkeley is a gentle questioner, concerned to bring out the best in his guests and fascinated that people reveal more of themselves when talking about music than in ordinary conversation. Phillips the therapist explained that it's because their personalities are mediated by a genuine, passionate interest. Phillips the guest revealed his own: direct, responsive and enthusiastic. His music, which included Schumann and Janacek, Clapton and Dylan, was the most eclectic choice of any guest I've heard.

It's been that kind of a week. As Private Passions ended, on Saturdays, I turned to R2. Kenny Everett was primarily a disc jockey who played pop records but, as demonstrated in the second part of Foreverett, he was never prepared to settle for just that. He'd throw in endless, surreal patter, tunes from the classics and sublime advertisements, collected often from contacts abroad. I was driving to the dentist's when I heard the Australian paint commercial sung to "My Way" ("I've scraped. I've sanded down ..."), and laughed so much I nearly didn't make it. Noel Edmonds introduces the series adequately, and Kevin Howlett produces a glorious montage of jokes doing full justice to the man himself.

They don't make them like that any more. Unwisely, R4 has stepped into the field with a dire new series about pop music whose very title, Elvis to Oasis, seems doomed. The likes of Tim Rice and Katie Puckrik failed to communicate even with each other. Rice was boring on about Tommy Steele and mentioned his Cockney song "Wha' a Marf". Bemused, Puckrik - from a different generation, a different continent - wondered if he was talking about a muff. Then they were asked silly things like would they rather be Lennon or McCartney, Madonna or Bjork. It was the kind of chat you could just about bear to listen to if filling in time, well, in a dentist's waiting room. The only moment I really enjoyed was when Tim Rice got faintly Everettical with a favourite couplet from an old song: "I told her that I was a flop with chicks/ I've been that way since 1956." They didn't even play the music.

Katie Puckrik did better back where she belongs on R1 with Rock Kids. This "in depth" investigation into the lives of rock stars' children didn't mention the McCartney daughters who have just done rather well for themselves outside their parents' world. But it was sadly, and rather pruriently, fascinating to hear what awful parents most of them are. They land them with silly names like Moon and Ziggy, drag them around stadiums on tour, occasionally fail to recognise them, employ them as roadies and then sack them for hitting the mini-bars. Some of them marry girls younger than their daughters.

Kimberley Stewart, child of the more famous Rod, was trotted out on stage at the age of three in leopard-skin tights and a T-shirt asking "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" As Puckrik said, it's best, in this context, to steer clear of the word normal. Fran Plowright, the producer, used a witty selection of old pop lyrics to emphasise the point. One little scrap, searching for some benefit from his rackety childhood, boasted that he had a great autograph collection.

The whole industry began 99 years ago. Getting in ahead of the anniversary, Alan Freeman talked to the historian Peter Martland (who surely wore an anorak) for Groovin' - the EMI Archives (R2). The first recording studio was managed by a man whose name only just escaped distinction, Fred Gaisberg. Though long since demolished, it was in Maiden Lane, where the programme began. Rules restaurant is still there. So, rather than talk in the chilly street, Freeman and Martland went indoors.

Though they certainly sounded much more cheerful, it became hard to concentrate on their gossip as the staff seemed intent on Hoovering, in between taking telephone bookings and dropping cutlery. When we heard the 1898 recording of Mendelssohn's Spring Song, its attendant slow-spin-on-the-washing- machine background sounded downright restful.

Freeman is the Rip Van Winkle of DJs. His voice still carries the mid- Atlantic resonance that was de rigeur in the 1960s, as he talks with undiminished zeal about the reckuds that have been his life. The pair of them wandered convivially down memory Maiden Lane, passing Ernest Lough and John McCormack, moving through the Churchill speeches and eventually reaching the EMI museum. Here the prime exhibit is Nipper the fox terrier, his ears forever cocked to His Master's Voice. Finally, we heard Freeman admitting that these days there are reckuds that glow in the dark, to help the ageing DJ with fading eyesight. Ah.

Finally, it would be criminal of me not to mention the recent gripping events in The Archers (R4). Vanessa Whitburn has done it again. Everywhere I go, the talk is of how Simon Armitage should be punished for his violent attack on the innocent Debbie. For once, its not the saintly Shula who is the victim, though she should certainly have warned her cousin, we now know. Anna Ford is at last thoroughly vindicated for calling him a shit. My dentist thinks he should be castrated.

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