Reithian Radio

by Louis Barfe

Driving home the other night, I found myself listening to Today in Parliament (R4, weekdays, 11.30pm) and becoming thoroughly miserable. I heard members of the House of Lords basically acknowledge that Vladimir Putin and his online troll armies can skew UK elections without there being any adequate form of redress. We have an analogue system in a digital world, said Lord Yyoung.

Then there was the inability ofMPss to make vote leave campaign supremo Dominic Cummings appear before a parliamentary committee. For someone who banged on so much about parliamentary sovereignty in the run-up to the referendum, they said that he seemed to have precious little time for the concept now he was the one under scrutiny.

I cast around the ether for something else to fill my ears. The first station on my scan was Radio 1. I prepared to hit the scan button again, but I found myself glued to what I heard. It was a gloriously spiky duet between a bass clarinet and a piano. I had to look at the radio display several times before I accepted that I hadn’t ended up on Radio 3.

It was the sort of music that used to be filed in a record shop I once frequented under the heading ‘difficult jazz’. My brain hunted around for names. Was Radio 1 playing John Surman in 2018? In fact it was the British composer James Blake on piano, closing an hour of his favourite music with a personal indulgence, and the bass clarinettist was André 3000 of the band Outkast. I have long been aware of Mr 3000’s other work, but I had no idea of his skills in this area. He’s damned good at it. So, there it is. Radio 1, still educating, informing and entertaining, as Lord Reith wanted all those years ago. Marvellous.

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