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The intriguing listening habits of World Service fans

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Penny Vine | 12:20 UK time, Friday, 9 October 2009

After the appearance of Anne Koch, Deputy Director of the World Service in English on last week's programme and Rajan's appeal to tell us more about your listening habits - we were inundated with responses.

As there were far too many to include in this week's edition, I thought I'd use this post to summarise what you said.


Cheers! Martin Pegrum enjoys the World Service. See his collection of valve sets below.

We heard from lots of internet listeners - but perhaps that's because they were the people who were already seated at their computers and so could fire off an e-mail.

They included Jayne Solesbury in Rome, Claire Buckley in Hong Kong (who also listens on shortwave) and John Parsons and Hope Smith in the United States. Lots of internet listeners seemed to listen for very long periods of time. Joyce Brennan says she has World Service streaming all day and all night!

When it comes to repetition in the World Service schedules, Paul Davis in Canada said that he dealt with this by downloading podcasts so that when a programme came on the radio he'd already heard, he took the opportunity to listen to something he'd missed.

But the Internet listeners weren't the only ones who contacted us. Several people in the United States, including Damien Lloyd Payn on the East Coast and Lulu Braunstein on the West told us they regularly listened via satellite radio in their cars.

Then there are the true globe-trotters such as the person who only identified him or herself as "rogue hippo". He or she must surely hold the record for the most varied means of catching BBC programmes. In Europe: Cable, FM radio and mediumwave plus the internet for downloading mp3s. In Asia: shortwave.

Listening on mobile phones seems to be growing. Jackie used hers to text Over to You and say she listens for three hours every morning this way. But she tunes to other stations in the afternoon when she finds the same programmes coming back on the BBC.

At the other end of the spectrum, Martin Pegrum in the Phillipines has three valve sets, the oldest of which dates from 1946. With a two hundred foot antenna, he can listen to one of these next to his bed. But he's also adapted to the new-fangled technology and feeds the BBC Internet stream through some of his classic sets. As he says: "The soft lights of the dials, the glow of the valves gives a very pleasing, warm dimension to the array of BBC World Service Broadcasts".

Martin sent us these great pictures:

Can anyone top that?!

Penny Vine is this week's producer of Over To You. Cathy Packe is away.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. It airs at 10:40 and 23:40 every Saturday, and at 02:40 on Sunday (GMT).


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    There was something called radio (and even shortwave radio) before satellite TV and the Internet...

    The following question in the "get involved" section of the WS 1989 memories - Europe’s Revolution page: What role did satellite TV play in bringing down the wall, and how might things be different for today's "internet generation"? is completely off the mark (at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2009/07/090713_1989_europe_revolutions.shtml%29
    The fact that the BBC WS website doesn't mention radio, which played such an important role at the time, might surprise a few people.

    As someone who lived in Berlin at the time, I can tell you that DTH satellite TV DIDN'T play any role in the fall of communism for the obvious reason that it was non-existent in Eastern/Central Europe at the time: dishes were simply banned, not just in the GDR, but throughout eastern Europe, with the exception of Poland where they were extremely rare. What influenced East Germans was West German TV - and radio - which virtually every households in the country could receive, either from bordering West German regions or from West Berlin. As regards East European countries other than the GDR, shortwave broadcasts from major international broadcasters such as the BBC (which was also on FM on a powerful transmitter in West Berlin), VOA, RFE/RL, or Deutsche Welle, were instrumental in informing people in the region up to, and after, the fall of communism.

    The question should be rephrased as follows: "What role did foreign and West German radio and TV broadcasts play in bringing down the wall, and how might things be different for today's satellite TV and 'internet generation'?

    [from a former WS colleague]

  • Comment number 3.

    In world service programmes,
    why do you have to interrrupt people as they start to talk, to say who they are?

    Why can't you say it before they start to talk,
    or after they have made the point, at least waiting a sentence or two?

    This unnecessarily and annoyingly disrupts what they have to say
    and makes it harder to follow.

    You wouldn't dream of interrupting a speaker in real life that way.
    The thing is you have heard the material lots of times.
    The listener hears it only once.
    Why mess with the message like that?

    I know this is a new trendy way of introducing speakers in documentaries,
    but I think you should think more of the listeners.

  • Comment number 4.


    NO...I couldn't out-do the intriguing

    ~Dennis Junior~


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