Archives mensuelles : février 2015

Ah, to be middle aged again

We’re told that life is for the young, that youth is everything and that after that it’s downhill.

For me, that really doesn’t seem to fit. Yes, I enjoyed my earlier years, but I’m enjoying my current ones as well. Life was more contingent in those days, and frankly that was a bad thing. There was a lot of doubt about whether things would work out in a variety of areas.

– What job would I do in life? Would it be in an exciting and interesting part of the world? Would I enjoy going to work on a Monday morning?
– Would I ever find someone to marry – would they be beautiful and with great character, and would we still be deeply in love years after our wedding day?
– Would I still have my Christian faith or would I have given up?
– Would I still have my student debt and little in the bank?
– Would I still have my health, and be active?
– Would I be a father?
– Would I own my own home?

The answer to all those questions is that things worked out really well (atheist readers might disagree, lol). If life is a roll of the dice, then from my position it looks like one die after another has come out at a high number. That’s not to be self-satisfied, and certainly not to think ‘that must be because I’m great’, but I’ve a huge amount to be thankful for. From the perspective of life here on earth, things didn’t seem a forgone conclusion. Doing a history degree, doesn’t seem like a sensible career choice. My first 28 years of life didn’t really set-up the promise that dating would actually lead anywhere. Yes temporarily life can be pretty dull away from the family, but that’s a short blip soon to be resolved, let’s hope.

Radio and me

I won’t always be able to say this, but up to now, I’ve spent most of my working life predominantly producing radio reports. Those early days travelling back from university to read the weekend news on Rugby FM (in the town of Rugby), to that first job as a local BBC reporter (and some time news reader). It was what I spent most of my time doing in Congo and Cote d’Ivoire. I think I got pretty good at it – one of the comments I’ll most treasure after leaving the BBC was that my reports had really given people the sense of being in Cote d’Ivoire. I wasn’t a great investigative reporter, and perhaps I sometimes pulled my punches, but I did like creating a multi-layer soundscape and making radio that was about sound rather than recorded studio scripts.

Radio is an interesting beast though. It is at once incredibly influential (certainly in this part of the world), but also strangely undervalued. Most people can’t name their favourite radio journalist, but tv journalists become celebrities. A radio report is almost impossible so share on-line, and when was the last time a radio piece went viral? A beautifully crafted television report can get incredible plaudits, but who appreciates the beauty of good radio reporting? You get the sense of creating beautiful pieces that vanish into the ether, never lasting any longer than the news programme itself. I never got the impression my Ivorian friends and peers were paying attention either.

Now I’m in communications, I still get the chance to make use of a variety of multimedia skills; video, photography, and of course writing. But radio is the one muscle that no longer gets exercise, unless it’s sync-ing audio for a video project.

To finish on a slight tangent, radio no longer has much of a place in my media consumption either, depending on how you define it. I listen to a lot of podcasts, especially while driving or exercising, and many of these are simply radio shows that are downloadable (‘Start the Week’, ‘In our time’ etc). But the broadness of broadcasting doesn’t much appeal to me anymore. My particular tastes and interests make me unlikely to find something on the radio at the particularly moment I tune in that I find interesting, or pitched at the right level. I also have less interest in ‘news’, which sensationalizes the ‘latest thing’ even if we don’t have a great understanding of its causes or long-term impact. I’m aware that serendipity is important (we should leave room to be surprised by things outside our narrow range of hobbies/interests), but there seems too much chaff in with the straw. Online news sites mean you can get what you’re interested in extremely fast, and click away as soon as your interest has been exhausted (or research more if you want to go deeper).

I do miss radio. It’s simplicity seemed to approach a level of purity – a cheap recorder, getting into the midst of the action, and then rushing back to the computer to edit. You could create a good mixed report in around an hour, fighting the clock to get it sent to London and on the air. I’m not an amazing photographer or video-maker, but this is where I now need to focus my attention.