Radio: A weedy question to ask the bishop

This column fervently endorses this newspaper's campaign against dumbing down in our institutions. As to whether or not the radio is dumber than it was, well, it all depends what you have been listening to. On Monday's Radio 4 Today programme, I heard a breathtaking piece of fatuity from one of its presenters, whom I am happy to name as Edward Stourton. He interviewed the Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, about the new Liberal Democrat leader's call for a royal commission on the decriminalisation of cannabis. The Bishop, we were warned darkly, had admitted to having "used" cannabis himself. Stourton asked: "Was this wise?"

Letter: Hunting the lobster

Sir: I have just picked up a second-hand copy of Boosey and Hawkes' New National Song Book, revised edition 1958. It was in use at a primary school in Surrey in the 1960s. How times they are a-changin'.

Radio: Two cheers for Madonna, three for Peel

It is unusually satisfying to see a statistic which confirms your suspicions. This one said that Madonna's new single "Beautiful Stranger" is the most frequently played of all time. It was played something like 2,000 times last week, beating the previous record-holder, Cher's "Believe", by a factor of about 25 per cent.

Brilliant from tubb to bottom

AUDIO BOOKS

The Critics - Radio: Home truths? I'll give him home truths

Radio, a medium whose practitioners crave love and attention like anyone else, has its own Oscars in the form of the Sony Awards. This is a big black-tie shindig in Grosvenor House, London, only slightly warped in that when you want to sidle up to someone famous, you have to listen out for their voices rather than look out for their faces. Apart, of course, for that noted radio personality, Caprice. She had to be there because no media event can strictly be said to have taken place without Caprice's appearance at some stage in the proceedings.

Awards for Peel silence R4's critics

CRITICS OF Radio 4's controversial new schedule were silenced last night when one of its key programmes crowned a year of awards by sweeping the board at the prestigious Sony Radio Awards.

Media: The first year of living dangerously

After all the outcry, listeners are finally returning to Radio 4. Sue Gaisford appraises its highs and lows

Network: My Technology: A spin doctor's friend

John Peel on the little bit of plastic that's always in his pocket

John Peel wins top radio award

ONE OF Radio 4's most controversial new programmes received an award yesterday when John Peel was named radio broadcaster of the year by the Television and Radio Industries Club.

Television: Sweet suburbia

John Peel is setting out on the road to find out why small-town Britain gives birth to so much great pop

Media: Thanks a million, John

The critics hate it, but DJ John Peel has more than one million listeners for Home Truths. By Paul McCann

On Air: World record holder

Since Capital took over XFM, things have been going from bland to worse. Not for DJ John Kennedy, though

Radio Four's changes win the ear of not-so-disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

JAMES BOYLE, the controller of Radio 4, appears to have pulled off his gamble to revamp radically the radio station that has Britain's most conservative audience.

POP: A summer melting pot

As the Grim Reaper stalks the music industry, killing off a slew of summer festivals including Phoenix and Jam in the Park, it is perhaps fitting that "Meltdown" on the South Bank should be littered with bands which, somewhere along the line, have shown two fingers to the British pop industry.

Leading Article: Safe new Radio 4

"SOLE, LUNDY, Fastnet, Irish Sea..." As listeners, viewers and readers, we are conservative creatures. But the Radio 4 audience is the most conservative of all. They represent a sort of National Trust of the airwaves, devoted to the preservation of the fabric of broadcasting schedules. Accidental survivals from an earlier age are treated with reverence. The shipping forecast, the six o'clock bongs, the seagulls on Roy Plomley's desert island. Millions of domestic routines have been displaced by the shifting of The Archers. Millions of ears have been offended by "30 minutes of news and comment from the BBC" instead of the 40 of The World At One.
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