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ANNOUNCERS' WEEK: DAY FOUR

Friends are always telling me I have the best job in the world. "You spend your entire working day listening to Radio4!" they say. Well, that's true, but only partly true. You see, we hear the programmes, but not in the same way we would at home. All the announcers have developed a weird, secondary sense of hearing - one where we're just aware of what's going on, while concentrating on other things.

The other things could involve testing the lines for Any Questions, checking the audio levels in The Archers or making sure we know who's presenting Front Row. On top of that, we field calls from producers making sure their programmes are ready to go, the Met Office with updated shipping forecasts or the team in the office with material for our announcements, so there's little time to actually listen to the programmes!

But this secondary sense of hearing is amazingly effective and kicks in every time there's more than 2 seconds of silence on air. When that happens, we all drop whatever else we're working on and jump to action. Was the silence just part of the programme, or has something unscheduled happened? 99% of the time it's the former, but every now and then we have to step in and sort things out (that's when your pulse races a bit too!).

So we do hear the programmes, but we can't always listen to them. There is one great secret the announcers have though, and it concerns that secondary sense of hearing. Away from work, we can listen to what someone is saying, while evesdropping on another conversation. So if you find yourself next to a Radio 4 Announcer, beware - they might be listening to your every word!

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 21 May 2009 18:16

    "But this secondary sense of hearing is amazingly effective and kicks in every time there's more than 2 seconds of silence on air. When that happens, we all drop whatever else we're working on and jump to action. Was the silence just part of the programme, or has something unscheduled happened?"

    Indeed many people don't realise just how long 10 seconds, of silence, really is - and by 15 seconds it really is starting to be "The Dead Air Show" to those listening...

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