Friday, October 12, 2007

Becoming a pod person

In the week when a fourth version of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers is released in a vain attempt to recreate the success of the 1956 Don Siegel original, it seems appropriate to reflect on pods and podcasting. My free iPod shuffle arrived today, a gift from Sofa Cinema for subscribing for a minimum of 4 months. It seemed a good deal at the time and I'm very pleased with what I've heard so far, having transferred a playlist of my favourite Canadian artists in a single click. Brilliant!

Tonight I've also achieved something else in recording a streamed radio programme from BBC Radio 4 via the 'play again' function. Recording was very simple using Quicktime Pro. The programme recorded was The Archive Hour celebrating the births of the five 1907 centurions of UK documentary. I have listened carefully all the way through, but Marion Grierson and Paul Rotha weren't in the segments I registered. The main attraction of the programme for me was the archive recordings of John Grierson, Basil Wright, Edgar Anstey etc. as well as Lindsay Anderson. There wasn't too much new in the actual content, except for occasional gems such as Basil Wright meeting Grierson for the first time in a 'communist club' in Soho called the 1917 Club or some such. It was also good to hear Andy Medhurst affirming that if you wanted to know about the lives of the working class in the 1930s, you should watch a George Formby film.

This is also the week when the BBC launches its podcast service and I think I'll subscribe to at least one Radio 4 programme, probably Laurie Taylor's Thinking Aloud (which this week also included a hymn of praise to the aforementioned Mr Medhurst). Finally, I must record how pleased I am to hear Jane Garvey on Woman's Hour on Radio 4. I'm a long time fan of Jane on Radio 5's drivetime programme and it will be a shame if she will no longer be heard teasing Peter Allen, but she deserves to get a chance on Radio 4 as the consummate broadcaster she surely is. She is the third of the first generation of Radio 5's women to make it to Radio 4, following Diana Madill and Fi Glover. Radio 5 is dismissed by some snobby radio commentators in the UK, but there is plenty of real talent on the station.


mediateacher said...

Only just looked at this post, but serendiptously it reflects some themes that came up in a conversation yesterday. Canada (and especially Montreal) is a really fertile place for some terrific music at the moment. I was talking with a member of my family about Feist, Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire and how they are all finally getting some good recognition. I'd said that I first heard Broken Social Scene on the Bob Harris show nearly TWO years ago. The person who I was talking to, who is much younger than me, didn't know who Bob Harris was of course and it exercised me to speak at some length about how (in the best traditions of John Peel) the best new music on the BBC is played by the older DJs. There is a point here about the "democratization" for want of a better word, of popular music - which I know you have written about at some length - but it does seem that Harris, Radcliffe & Maconie and even in his own idiosyncratic way, Mark Lamarr are faithful to the idea of introducing people to new music as well revisiting old stuff. I think I feel the same way about Radio 2 that you do about Radio 5; namely that it's easy to be critical about it because of its populist big names. Behind those big names though, there is some really excellent specialist music programming, and if the station is managing to be both populist AND specialist at the same time, then isn't that exactly what the BBC is meant to do? Keep the car running, as a certain Canadian band would say....

Roy Stafford said...

Yes, I did, a couple of times, stumble across Bob Harris on a Saturday night playing a whole bunch of Canadian songs. But I don't really listen to music radio anymore. My playlist is made up of faves from long ago -- Neil, Joni, Bruce Cockburn, The Band, the McGarrigles, Cowboy Junkies etc. The biggest element is k. d. lang and I've followed her choice of songwriters to Jane Siberry. Recently I've used the tracks I get on CD samplers from Uncut and Mojo to find Ron Sexsmith, Be Good Tanyas and Kathleen Edwards. I've read about Broken Social Scene, Feist etc. and perhaps I'll give them a go via iTunes.