BBC reporter discovers radio tuning has become a lost art

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Michael Taniwha and Mark Hirst, who share this link to a video at the BBC where a reporter quickly discovers that many can’t find BBC Radio 1 or even tune a radio.

Click here to view.

It’s hard for a radio enthusiast to believe, but there is little reason for a millennial, for example, to ever tune a portable radio. Many have only ever connected with radio via their smart phone, computer, or other Internet appliance. Tuning, in a sense, is a foreign concept. And the irony is, me for, tuning is the fun part!

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8 thoughts on “BBC reporter discovers radio tuning has become a lost art

  1. Robert

    Just a comment in general about tuning analog radios, I am with Vivencio in that the crackles, the static, the tweaking of settings to hear a station still provokes a sense of magic in me. I know I come from a far earlier generation than these kids, but I feel a sense of loss for them because they have not experienced the sense of wonder that is radio.
    Regardless of whether or not these were “hand picked” by the reporter, even just punching in a frequency or clicking on a mouse or tapping a tablet does not give you the same sense of awe and the sense of signals traveling through the atmosphere bouncing off layers and ground to make their way to your antenna. Marvelous!
    I am thankful for my youthful experiences and the sense of wonder which has never left me. Cheers!

    Reply
  2. Mark Handsfield

    I don’t know if this is really a factor, as I also believe that the person concerned is not in the majority, but the BBC frequency system is, in the mind of a foreigner, weird. I’m a rather avid listener of radio 4 and world service programs, which I catch online because there are no relays in the U.S. apart from the NPR stations that have the world service at night, but yet, on my trip through a London airport where I had several hours to wait, it still took forever to find the proper frequency to receive these signals. There were long lists of. frequencies for the same program with different locations on them. At one point, I got the full listing and, as far as I can tell, radio 4 broadcasts at every possible FM frequency somewhere in the U.K. Owing to my American lack of knowledge about British geography, and the status of London as both a city and a chunk of lots of other cities that all have their own names, I couldn’t find it. Eventually, I just stepped through each frequency until I found it, then almost immediately boarded my plane. My point is that, in order to tune an analog radio to something specific, you usually have to know at least vaguely where that specific thing is located on the dial, and I can’t tell you how to do that for a station I actually listen to. Yes, on some stations I have memorized the frequencies, as I typically tune by typing them in, but whenever I’m in a new location and want something specific, I tend to look the frequency up if possible, rather than trying all the possibilities. Part of this is my radio which operates on a digital-tuning (discrete steps) system, which makes things slower, but most of it is that I don’t really care to listen to the ten stations I know I will find playing the same modern music. That type of discovery holds no value for me. I’m either after something specific or something unusual.

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  3. Mike Barraclough

    Radio One current weekly reach is 9.6 million, last figures for share of listening hours is 67% on FM, 33% on DAB radios, where you select by station name, internet or via digital television. Facts beat lets wander round and find some random people and claim they are significant for some reason every time.

    Reply
  4. Tom Servo

    Is this really highlighting how irrelevant radio is the average young British person is, or just how irrelevant Radio 1 is? The dial is jam-packed in London with competing signals, most of them commercial in nature. I think if you gave these kids a modern radio and not something pulled off the set of One Foot In The Grave they might’ve had better luck finding their favorite station, if not a BBC outlet.

    I doubt anyone at the Beeb would lose any sleep over this, last I saw they were bumping 10 million listeners for Radio 1 alone, with Radio 4 and Radio 2 with even higher numbers of actual adults with money who buy things.

    It doesn’t surprise me that a reporter could find a few youthful idiots to cater to his story, but I imagine he spent most of the time ignoring the vast majority that have enough common sense to figure out how to use a basic radio.

    Last but not least, many of the radios in the UK are not only digitally-tuned but have RDS, which shows the station name or abbreviation in the PS field. All most folks do is seek out the station by name. In their cars, the AF (auto frequency) feature keeps it tuned in no matter what frequency is strongest. I figure most folks seeking Radio 1 would tune around at random until they saw the display say “BBC_R1” or whatever it says these days. They don’t even publish dial positions because it’s a national network. It’s just “between 98 and 99 MHz”.

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  5. Vivencio Flores

    Tuning an analog radio is the best adventure for me. The swish, crackles signal fading, and hiss leaves one in awe of the distances that the radio waves had traveled to reach me and how big the world really is.

    Reply

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