…on radio is at once both radically complex and stultifyingly mundane. I wrote a previous article in February 2018 about some of my favourite radio presenters. In simple terms I reckon you’ve either got ‘it’, or you could – at a pinch – struggle to learn it. But mostly I’m of the opinion that the best voices on the radio are the ones who do what comes naturally: and that’s talk and listen.
In September 2019 the BBC’s John Humphrys stepped down from Radio 4’s breakfast programme (never call it a ‘show’, please) the Today programme. Known by staff who work on it as the Toady programme in an affectionate anagram. [In a similar manner, the World at One is ‘Wat-Oh!’ after its initials, and ‘FOOK’ is From Our Own Correspondent.]
As the BBC said, “Humphrys […] built a reputation as a tenacious if divisive interrogator”, a person whose job is to question those in power – something that is always needed in a democracy. And he has been someone not afraid to offer critiques of his former employer in the months after his departure.
But for all the deficits that political coverage can deliver, the Today programme has always been ready to invite interesting guest editors. Here’s Jarvis Cocker from 2008, where his thoughts that Christmas about politicians reflected the cultural age we were living in back then. It all seems such a long time ago…
And on a much, much, lighter note it’s always pleasing to see that the BBC is ready to allow itself to be made fun of. This is from 2009.
Let me know your favourite voice on the radio. And in the meantime, if you’re interested in a fictional representation of the BBC’s Today Programme, find the 2017 novel by Peter Hanington called ‘A Dying Breed’. I think you’ll enjoy it.