Saturday Live, Bob Harris Country, Cerys Matthews, Mahalia Jackson

Saturday Live is growing. From the coming weekend, it will be 90 minutes each week, so it’s not only more of the same but also it will include what used to be Excess Baggage, which is no longer a separate entity.

As explained before, I usually listen to the programme a while after the broadcast, sometimes maybe weeks after. The benefit of this is that I can fast forward through those segments that I’m not particularly interested in. It has to be said, though, that this is a very rare occurrence.

Right, this week’s first long-lengtyh, extended Saturday Live will include the usual features: this week’s Poet is Luke Wright and the Inheritance Tracks are those of Cilla Black. Guests include David Cassidy and Patrick Duffy, ideal for those (like me) who were around in and still have affection for the 1970s. Presenter Richard Coles will be joined by Sian Williams.

Saturday Live on Radio 4.

My workday experience was enormously enhanced yesterday and today by listening to Bob Harris Country. I’m a little bit behind with the show, so I’ve only just caught up with his 1960s Special. And to use one of Bob’s own favourite words, it was ‘amazing’! At several points during the show, I thought he’d been cherry-picking from my parents’ own (albeit limited) record collection. Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash were all available at home during my childhood.

Usually, Radio 2 shows are up on the iPlayer for 7 days, until replaced by the following week’s show. But the good news is: as I write, there are many previous programmes up there. Which is good news for me. Bob alluded to a previous programme from a few months ago, a 1950s special. Well, I missed that at the time, but I now look forward to hearing it. (That one was 27/10/2011, by the way.)

Bob Harris Country on Radio 2.

On last week’s Loose Ends, Cerys Matthews poke about the documentary she’d made for Radio 4, called ‘Conjuring Halie’, about the delightful gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. I can’t recommend this documentary enough. I’ve often said that despite being the nation’s major speech station, Radio 4 does come up with some of the best music documentaries.

Conjuring Halie is repeated on Radio 4 tomorrow, Saturday 5th May at 3.30pm, and will be on the iPlater for a week after that.

Conjuring Halie – Mahalia Jackson – on Radio 4.

Loose Ends on Radio 4.

And finally: if you donated material to the national archive and then, thirty-odd years later, find one of the items up for sale on eBay, you’d be a bit miffed, right? Well, this happened to J. David Goldin, from Connecticut. But he did the right thing: he tracked down the thief, who is now serving time.

Read the full, heart-warming story here in the Washington Post.

Sian Williams to join Saturday Live

I’ve seen Sian Williams present the BBC 1 Breakfast Show a few times over the years, but I’ve never been a regular viewer. If I’m up at that time, the radio will usually be on instead. And in any case, most days I’m at work while all this breakfast TV is taking place.

But Sian has decided not to move to Salford with her co-presenter Bill Turnbull and the rest of the team.

Instead, she will return to Radio 4 to co-present Saturday Live with the Rev Richard Coles. I’ve been a fan of the programme since it started a few years ago, originally presented by the delightful Fi Glover. I try to listen live each week, but I work five Saturdays out of six, so it’s quite difficult.

I was able to listen using the FM radio on my mobile phone, using the headset which also acted as the antenna. This worked well, until one day at work, a mouse decided to eat my headset. It was in several pieces, and proved to be impossible to replace, unless I obtained a whole new phone.

As a backup, my digital TV recorder is set up to record Saturday Live every week, and it’s 90% reliable.

I do have a new phone now, but when I’m at work, I tend to listen to it via the loudspeaker rather than the headset. The sound quality is nowhere near perfect, of course, but when there’s traffic in the background, and other extraneous noise, it doesn’t really matter. Plus, of course, not wearing a headset, it’s much easier to talk to people.

But I digress. this is a major news item about Saturday Live acquiring a new presenter, and being extended:

BBC News – Sian Williams to rejoin Radio 4 from BBC Breakfast.


Saturday Live 11/2/2012 + Feedback 10/2/2012

I try to listen to Radio 4’s Saturday Live live on a Saturday, but usually don’t manage. I work most Saturdays, so the only way I can then hear the programme live is by using my phone (it has an FM radio) with the headset (which also acts as an aerial). When I have the headset on, it’s difficult to talk to people in real life. Plus, having the wire dangling, albeit tucked behind shirt buttons, isn’t ideal.

So I record the programme and listen to it later in the day, or more usually, later in the week.

Today’s programme was presented by Anita Anand rather than the usual Rev Richard Coles (he seems to have a lot of holidays).

In today’s programme, Christy Moore talked about his music and his influences and performs a song, a couple describe building a boat from scratch, Alison Bennett talks about their precious object, a coloured blanket,Matt Harvey performed a couple of poems and Rob Bryden chose his inheritance tracks. Intrigued? Well, listen to the show which is available on the BBC iPlayer for a week.

This was a fairly typical show, including some comments from the listening public. One reason for listening live is so that you can, if you choose, send a text message or a tweet.

BBC iPlayer – Saturday Live: 11/2 Christy Moore, Matt Harvey, build a boat couple, matchmaker, Isle of Wight blanket, Rob Brydon’s Inheritance Tracks.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of iPlayer, I’ve commented before that its radio programmes are abused, not presented at their best, they’re truncated, they include news bulletins that are out of date, trails for other programmes that you’ve missed…

And, oh, the irony… I listened to this week’s Feedback on the iPlayer and the programme finally got going after the end of Last Word, the preceding programme, a preview of Feedback itself and a plug for PM. Irony? Yes, the treatment of radio programmes on iPlayer (compared with TV programmes) is one of the subjects under discussion this week. In particular, they mention The Brian Matthew Story which I wrote about a few days ago.

There’s also a discussion about Saturday Live, what people like and don’t like. The poems are a bit hot and miss, but it would be a shame to see them disappear completely.

I’m not entirely convinced by the excuse given out for this cheap and tawdry service. And why, after hearing 58 minutes of an hour-long programme should I have to get in touch with the BBC, tell them it’s been truncated, wait for them to fix it, then go in and try to pick up the final couple of minutes? By that point, the seven days may have expired. Well, we’ll see. Having a buffer before and after each programme, annoying enough though that may be, would at leats ensure we receive the whole of the programme we’re interested in.

And finally, on a different note, I thought this infographic on the history of radio was quite interesting.