Old Folks Radio

I think I am officially old folks now. It has been quite journey through snot-nose kid, callow youth, and middle aged slob. I feel a sense of relief that I’ve fetched up onto the shore of early old age with all of my teeth and most of my mind. I have no illusions about the journey inland from here – but I noted that I seem to have outlived a number of the ancestors. I hope they are not bitter about this. Bitter ghosts are bad news.

But on to the radio, or wireless, if you insist upon being parochial. We have an old folks radio station in our suburb – broadcasting on the FM band and also apparently attached to the internet for overseas listeners. It runs 24 hrs a day – though a third of that time is a robot music broadcast from eastrn states servers. I pick uit up when there are real people in the local studio.

These announcers and technicians are unpaid volunteers wheo present music and talk shows all day. There schedule is felxible, but the general format is a repate week by week – vmusic, show tunes, light classical, university leftist news, and 1950’s radio serials.

The leftist news comes from an eastern states university and is as puerile and self-virtuous as you might expect from undergraduates. It features news stories that are always demanding more funding for universities while castigating the governments that provide it. The chief charm is the really bad style of the journalism student announcers. The old people here in the west beat them by far.

The music started out a few years ago way back in the early 20th century – there were entire Broadway musical shows presented. Then it walked on to the 40’s and now is into the 60’s and 70’s. There is always a scheduling distance kept between the music selected and the current style – as the population ages we move onto things we apparently loved as youths.

I’m not so sure. There is a lot of 50’s and 60’s music that stinks when you expose it to sunlight. Someone may have loved it then, but that someone was a fool at the time – if they have gotten smarter and more sophisticated by now, they can only cringe at what was on the top of the pops then.

I love the old serials – they would have been the evening entertainment of the Australia bush family of the 50’s. Some of them are woeful – and not because they are that old. A recent effort written to capture the flavour of the old serial was painful to listen to.

However, when the old radio networks spent a bit of money on good audio actors and actresses – and paid out for the rights to adapt good novels – they could come up with pretty good drama. Like all audio serials, they have to describe and illustrate more than a written work might – and they need to be able to be broken into convenient 15-minute segments. They need to leave the listener hanging on a cliff each night.

This is possible with the works of good detective or thriller writers. Romance authors have less success, and historical writers are handicapped by the fact that people know how it ends, anyway. Current one has a detective from the Raymond Chandler stable – it started with a well-known thriller and adapted it very well. Then it’s launched off into another adventure from the same author. They’ll probably curtail it once we know who done it, and we’ll have a British one next.

One thing the serials never seem to do is present a comedy series. Humour may date more readily than murder and crime.

Do I listen? Yes, I do. Am I abashed at being their target audience? Not a bit. I am pleased that I can be kept from the rap and swearing of the regular stations.

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