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David Bouchier: A Few Well Chosen Words

David Bouchier: A World Of Voices

Image by DWilliam from Pixabay

Of all the many devices we have found to distract ourselves during the epidemic, radio is surely one of the most accessible, flexible and reliable. It is everywhere, and it is absolutely virus-free. No mask or distancing is required to listen to Morning Edition, and you don’t even have to wash your hands afterwards. You don’t even have to look at your radio while you listen to it. In the old days, before television came into our lives, my parents did watch the radio because it was a handsome and expensive piece of furniture, and I think they felt it was only polite to face towards it when somebody was speaking. But really, it’s not necessary. It’s true that everyone on the radio is exceptionally good looking, but we are invisible, so you can’t be distracted by our beauty. As we have all discovered with Zoom and Skype, visibility is not always an asset.

The human voice telling a story must be one of the most primordial forms of comfort and entertainment. The oldest stories we know, like the Epic of Gilgamesh, were preserved by being read aloud or chanted. Our most ancient ancestors, in their dark caves or shelters must surely have told stories and exchanged confidences in the long nights. Mothers soothed their children with tales of cute little saber-toothed tigers and mastodons. Anything is possible when you tell a story. Pigs can fly, and even mastodons can get a few feet off the ground. The voice does it all.

Radio brings you a whole world of voices, and music too. You can play it in the shower or in your car, or when you are doing something else entirely, even something your mother wouldn’t approve of. In an emergency, when he lights go out and your house is like a neanderthal cave, you can turn to it for information and guidance. You may have an emergency radio, but not an emergency TV.

We have all given up a lot in the past year: theatres, concerts, emotional closeness. These are things that radio can at least partly replace. For people who are isolated — and there are many — radio is secure company, and may even be a kind of therapy. Social media, seething with spite and malice, is more likely to reach out and bite you. Public radio never does that and, in a post-truth era where all fantasies seem to be equal, you need to be able to find a sane and truthful voice somewhere.

In a perfect world something as good as this should be free, a public service. Unfortunately it is not. Which means that we have to reach out to you for support with our voices alone – no film clips or flashy visual effects, just a simple request. We need to hear your voice.

Copyright: David Bouchier