I was in college before wi-fi, or smart phones. And a computer of my own wasn’t in my budget at the time. So I started listening to the BBC, in real-time, on a regular old FM tuner because I often couldn’t sleep at night.
I am high intensity. It’s not all anxiety, or frustration, or excitement, or ferocious thinking, but it is the sum of all of the above. Back then it was depression, and the only cure I could think of was reminding myself that the world was filled with far worse plights than my exams, social misfitting, and inferiority complex (I was relieved later in life to find out that this is ‘perspective’, not (just) ‘disaster porn’).
Most of the year the UK is 5 hours ahead of us. The BBC World Service plays news in short and long form for approximately half of their broadcast day. At midnight when I was tired but restless, and lonely but incapable of being emotionally responsible for anyone else, it was 5 AM in London and the news day (and Newsday) was just starting.
The highly recognizable and, I eventually learned, regional voices took me back to the sound of childhood late afternoons when the dial on my father’s brushed stainless Technics tuner glowed as night fell; and ideas from a different part of the planet mingled with the noisiness of home cooking. My father’s stereo is one of my favorite relics, it might be my favorite thing about my father. People across an ocean, in a room, behind mics, reached through time to family and home, so I listened many nights and was comforted.
Over the years my tastes expanded, and the internet made it possible for me to listen to any radio station in the world. I have listened avidly to Radio France Internationale, France Bleu, Deutsche-Welle, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. I absorb World Cup, Le Tour and the Vuelta through the radio. It never gets old for me that it is a different time somewhere else, sometimes a different day, and a new perspective on the world is going to flow into my ears. I love to hear England in the twilight of a work day as I am just settling into a task.
I haven’t a point, I realize, but the power of people talking to each other. Strangers speaking, perhaps to no one, telling of others living and how. There is some impetus to go on in these banal reports. To keep your drop flowing in the river of humanity. And perhaps to shout a bit. You never know what ears might just need to hear your voice for a moment.