Ruling the airways

Research recently published has concluded that our attention span nowadays could be limited to Just A Minute before our minds are distracted; so to make my point Today this post is limited to take about 60 seconds to read. In this Material World of gizmos and gadgets; of Facebook, Twitter and blogs Any Questions on any subject or an opinion expressed are expected to be answered within our short memory span.

[T]elevision is as much to blame as the social media; why after the interminable adverts do they feel the need to reiterate what we have just watched? After all you have just been sitting in a Front Row seat within your living room with no distractions from the images appearing on your plasma screen.

In a previous age information was passed on by Word of Mouth a farmer as depicted daily on The Archers would take time to explain to future generations the wealth of his knowledge; a fisherman before leaving harbour would know The Shipping Forecast by taking time to observe the cloud formations; and In Business training for between 6 to 10 years was the norm to ensure a skilled workforce.

Now we have the unremitting tendency to patronise, putting everything into bite sized chunks of Quote-Unquote. The World At One can tune into Dave (as if he was the oracle of all knowledge) and watch the same programme that was transmitted three hours earlier; am or PM it’s the same reality television or makeover programme even the same adverts just in case you have forgotten their importance message.

Thinking Allowed is not now practised for it would seem that mothers who previously might devote a Woman’s Hour with their daughter by passing on her wisdom and experience, imparting advice via a text message seems the order of the day.

Well last week we received (in bite sized chunks) the heartening news that intelligent audiences are turning increasingly to the radio for their information and entertainment with listening figures for many Radio 4 programmes at an all-time high. This is encouraging for when on 30th September 1929 John Logie Baird broadcast Britain’s first television programme from a building in Long Acre his invention was predicted to kill wireless broadcasting stone dead. In Our Time the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee ultimately was forecast by wiz-kids to change our listening habits, well they thankfully have been proved wrong.

The intelligent medium of radio, which leaves so much more to our imagination – even if your humble scribe feels like telling Melvin Bragg “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” to his discussion on the Hundred Years War – has given the programme makers 30 minutes to try to explain the subject.

On Radio 4 you’ll find no chopping and changing between segments of two-and-a-half seconds each; no adverts (hardly necessary with a £3 billion-a-year dowry); and no regurgitation of the same footage shown 10 minutes previously.

At least for the time being on FM it is still possible to listen to someone speak uninterrupted – without hesitation, deviation or repetition – for an entire minute. About the same time it’s taken you to read this post.

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