Eclipsed by the more widely accessed iPlayer, the iPlayer Radio app – much like radio itself – sneaks into your day with news, knowledge and humour in a very personal way.
What a saviour the BBC iPlayer is. Hyperbolic, perhaps. But when living away from home and the sweet morning dulcets of John Humphries, the iPlayer really provides welcoming and comforting sounds. I talk of the iPlayer radio app as the televisual one does not work overseas. I have heard some talk of a rerouter or ways of changing an IP address to receive services, however, I have as much knowledge of how to do that as I do milking a goat or resuscitating a fallen pigeon. Sorry, these are skills I do not possess. As it is, I can rely on my iPlayer radio app to give me what I need from back home and remain in my ignorant state from life’s other seldom needed skills.
As an homage to my beloved app and the BBC, I have compiled a list of how they enhance my day and at around what time they do so.
Around 9am I tend to arise from my sleep and have roughly an hour to prepare myself to leave the house. Yesterday’s PM is the perfect morning accompaniment to my routine and I can find out what happened yesterday in the UK and around the world. I can find out what happened while slept, which is amazing and essential, obviously. The show is normally hosted by Eddie Mair and is essentially the 6 o’clock news, for an hour, with jokes and in-depth analysis and interviews. It’s a great news programme but not perfect. There tends to be too few female voices contributing to the show and has some desperate attempts to incorporate twitter in meaningless ways (such as sending a picture of a clock at 5PM when the show is broadcast). Fortunately, Eddie Mair is aware of this pointlessness and somehow turns it into endearing pleas for listener interaction.
For some reason I’m preparing to have a shower while You and Yours is broadcast live from the UK. I have normally just endured a quick pilates (around 7pm) in the living room then chopped some vegetables (7.30pm or so) when this programme is on. The show is set up around consumer affairs with representatives from companies in the studio to defend the reason they won’t be paying a living wage or to explain why they have lost their customers’ ASOS deliveries. The show is hosted by either Winifred Robinson or Peter White and sometimes I cannot quite hear what they’re saying from the shower but they have decidedly reassuring voices and I trust them. Recent topics have included the appalling standards of some care homes, noise pollution in London and pizzas by sales volume. None of which I am currently effected by but am certainly interested to hear about and be aware of.
I would listen to Claudia any time of any day interviewing any one. She is acerbic and factitious in perfect proportions and is an accessible voice to an art world that can be daunting or distant in some ways. The show is normally broadcast on a Friday night and I will often catch up with it on a Thursday night (10pmish) the following week. I try to have a routine with my own programming of the radio schedule and, by singular consensus, the Art Show is on on a Thursday night. The show includes reviews, previews and interviews from an array of sources including authors, stage actors, directors, painters, sculptures, dancers. Everything, really. And Claudia brings an easiness and humanness to each part of the show and possibly sits on the lap of each guest which she invariably adores.
(Side note: I’m not exactly sure what the Whichester Festival is, but I want to go there with Claudia and eat sandwiches and falafel.)
Sunday is a popular day in my iPlayer schedule. It is a day for the music and a day to forget about current affairs and the diminishing power of the individual in consumer society. It is a day for Elaine Paige to fill my ears with giggles and music from stage shows I have never seen yet am well acquainted through years of listening to her show. There is news from the West End and Broadway, OST of the week, EP’s EP, Disney Double. It’s the ideal start to a Sunday morning one week after it’s original broadcast as I make Sunday pancakes (ideally before 11am). Next is Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the 70s and can only be listened to after the full Elaine Paige show. The title is a good indicator as to what to expect and if you enjoy 70s music, archive interviews and the sound of people reliving their youth, then surely you will enjoy this show. Next up is Paul O’Grady playing Paul O’Grady as a loveable, oafish uncle who just happens to be on the radio pushing the wrong buttons and having a laugh with his friend, Martin. I don’t always have time to listen to the full show as I do occasionally have plans to leave the house. Regardless, this is a fine way to finish a Sunday far from home.
Recently discovered, and yet to find a place in the schedule, is Radio 4 Extra. The station is for reruns of old favourites such as Just a Minute and the Mighty Boosh, which I was looking for when I found John Ronson sitting there glaring at me, and you. And all of us. He had a show (or still has a show) Jon Ronson On where each week there is a different theme to be explored by Jon. He sounds so peaceful I almost want to lay down on the freshly folded washing I was folding as I listened. The one I listened to was a programme about spies and, as usual with Jon, these are not straightforward accounts of spying (if there is in fact a straightforward account of spying). Josie Long was on there telling us about a time she found a phone and begun to leer into the owner’s world, while another story came from Kanye West’s former personal shopper who ended up becoming an informer to the FBI (nothing to do with Kanye) feeding information about an elderly couple threatening destruction in a small town. Quite surreal to say nothing reflective at all. I will be listening to more when I can find a suitable time in my schedule. As you should too.
At home or somewhere more distant, explore the iPlayer radio app. Much awaits.