Monday 26 September 2011

Four-ward thinking

BBC Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC Radio 7) plans its schedules three months ahead, so it was not too much of a surprise when last week’s newsletter asked listeners for their preferred Christmas programme options.

As much as I do not like to think about Christmas much before early December, I can understand the need in this case. So my suggestions, in order of preference, were as follows:

Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion- all of the recent years’ festive programmes- the ones broadcast the Saturday before Christmas Day, that is. (NPR)
Any Vinyl Cafe from Stuart MacLean with a festive feel (Canadian BC)
Tony Hawks’ 12 Days of Christmas
Just A Minute
After Henry (the two Christmas specials)
I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue
Flying the Flag (any series not already broadcast on BBC7)

The first two were regulars on BBC 7 and so should be at home on BBC 4 Extra.
You can e-mail your requests/suggestions to with 'Christmas titles' as the subject. They are already placing bets on the top 3 titles most of us might request, and I imagine they think the majority will want:
Hancock’s Half Hour and various versions of A Christmas Carol, plus Sherlock Holmes. I’m happy with those three too...

Thursday 8 September 2011

Radio Websites September 2011

First published in Radio User, Sept 2011 PW Publishing

Chrissy Brand looks at a wide range of websites with a radio connection. Amongst the websites this month she chooses some radio blogs from three continents, some Big Band and 1940s internet radio stations and finishes in Taiwan where PCJ Media are sharing the old and pushing ever forwards with the new.

It never ceases to amaze me how many high quality websites there still are that appertain to all things radio. Every month I stumble across something new, sometimes through painstaking research, often through a chance diversion on my way to a different website. Here’s a selection of what I have recently been reading, watching and hearing online, and that I think many readers might find useful too.

Blogs of the month
Prithwi’s World is the blog of a DXer in Assam, India. Prithwiraj Purkayastha gives links to schedule and QSL card updates (such as Radio Free Asia) and competition winners (including Radio Prague). These, together with a photo gallery of his DX memories and other radio snippets with an Indian slant, make for an intriguing read.  

Adam Brasher is a young man from Alabama, whose blog details various aspects of his life i words and pictures, be it following local baseball matches or meeting South African volunteers at his local zoo. Needless to say there is a radio element to the blog too, with a simple section on Adam’s QSL card collection (see QSL count). Why not drop by and encourage him in his DXing- it is youngsters like this whose hands the radio hobby will be in come a decade or two.  

“Puppies and Flowers , for when you need to think of something else in a hurry”is the strange name of a blog which pulls together a wide range of mostly advertising video and clips, from the Sopranos to the Simpsons  The 18 July 2011 spoof video of a 1960s look at how life would be in 2000 is entertaining (it woman award at the New York Comedy film festival) , as is the song of the day for 10 July: The Walker Brothers’ track The Electrician.

With a retrospective look at QSLing the World Bands Postcard blog is a bright and cheerful place to brighten up your day. One Helmuth W Kump in Pennsylvania is your host for a trawl through scenic views of mountains and cities, from Finland to Monte Carlo, via some classic QSL artwork that was surely inspired by the flower power generation.  

Over in Santiago Chile, Hernan hosts a passionate blog that majors on collecting postcards. There are many colourful examples, and some QSL cards are included. I appreciate that it is a slight aside from pure radio but as a QSL aficionado I enjoyed this slight diversion into what is after all a parallel hobby.  Herman’s definition is rather charming too: “A postcard is a testimony of a distance travelled, a priceless greeting from somebody far away. Somebody chose it, took their time to write some words and mailed it...A postcard always affixes a smile on your face.”

A radio ham blog worth whiling some time away at is at Captain Luis de Barros is ready to take you on a tour of some international broadcast stations' propagations forecasts for the bands and some amateur radio information. Plenty to click on and learn about here.

Radio Green Earth is a station with a difference and one that is trying to make a difference to the planet, at  They broadcast from Florida on FM with documentaries and features with an environmental nature (pun intended). The station can be heard lonline as well. It is thought provoking material that we should all lend an ear to. For example one recent programme I heard covered the drought in south Florida: “The rains have arrived, but no one is sure how long they will stay – or if they will help offset reported water shortages. Are our water troubles caused by unavoidable droughts – or because we misuse and lose the water we have?”

Internet radio past and present
Alan Wilcox found that as expected the Jazz 24 website I mentioned (  ) contained mostly modern jazz. I suppose it depends on how you define “modern”, but certainly that website would not have held many surprised of the diehard jazz fan. I mentioned it more as a starting point for those developing an interest. My own jazz favourites range from Portico Quartet (see them at the London jazz festival in November)  to the veteran trio of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack De Johnette. They are still touring even as I write. With Jazz FM now going national on DAB radio there should be a good range in some of their specialist programmes.  

Online,  channels such as Gallery 41 and New Renegade Radio are sites I often tune into for my evening jazz, and sometimes blues, fix. Just search for the station names or artistes you like in the search box and you can be transported. Gallery 41 also has a great You Tube channel with documentaries and some bizarre robotic commentaries on the genre, as well as music at  In particular I mean the “Free Jazz: The Jazz Revolution of the '60s” by Robert Levin piece from Justin TV and Alan Silva at  

Back to Alan Wilcox though and he writes that his “main music interest is the Big Bands and I have found a very good source. If you go to  and click on music, there is a wide range of categories available and I use Big Band and Swing.” There are many other genres available here and I agree that it is a useful website. It is certainly one that I shall explore further myself at some point.

Other Big Band radio stations and shows I have found include Rat Patrol Radio which has sounds from World War II, from Torgen Magnusson in Tampa, Florida at Live 365.

The rather old looking website  also has a lot of links and flashing clipart, in a very 1990s html internet style. It might lead you to the sounds of yesteryear live today, The Big Band Broadcast with Chris Valenti at  

“The 1940s radio station” is one I have listened to before. It is on FaceBook as well as at  With music form the 1920s to the 1950s, jazz, jive, big Band and swing, there is plenty of variety to be heard. You can even hire the station to come along to provide live sound and visuals at events. Worth exploring. Their website links to a radio station in a genre I know little of , that of rockabilly at  I rather enjoyed an excursion into what for me was a new type of music.

On FM on the Isle of Wight and online to the world Angel Radio also plays music from the past / It is a “unique nostalgic radio station broadcasting music recorded from the real beginnings circa 1900 up to a cut off point of the end of 1959, plus documentaries on the artistes and musical styles of this era. The cut off date of the end of 1959 is to allow the station to remain unique with a library of currently 65,000 songs, the majority never heard anywhere else. People who like music from the 1960s onwards are well catered for by other stations.”

Finally this month, a quick visit to the PCJ Media Archive in Taiwan. Among the recent finds that are there to share are a 1960s Radio Sweden Saturday Show broadcast, from a live studio tape. Also video and audio of the 50th anniversary of the Radio Netherland’s Happy Station Show. If you remember these stations and programmes then you are in for a treat. If you don’t, you may well want to have a listen to hear some inventive, innovative and plain good spirited radio from a bygone era sounded. For the other side of that same vintage radio coin, how about some Radio Moscow Transcription Service tapes from the 1960s that are there are and worth a listen as well.  

More up to date news is that the Media Network Plus Show from PCJ Media is now also broadcast on the World Radio Network

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