Bongs and Birds
For many, the loss of the bongs was a shattering blow. One of the unique intimacies of radio is the way it can regulate your day. So when we were told Big Ben and its sidekicks were being silenced for repairs for a few weeks, we knew we had a problem. 'The Bongs' at the end of PM and the beginning of the Six O'Clock News are one of the key anchors in a Radio Four listener's day.
So what were we to do to fill those precious 15 seconds (roughly) each day? We decided to ask the listeners and subscribers to our daily newsletter for their thoughts. Predictably lots wanted the return of the UK Theme, other wags suggested a new News Briefing item. But in the end they came up with an inspired idea...... Birdsong. Until the Bongs return we are playing the song of a different bird up to the pips. The response has been overwhelming. Listeners are sending in their own recordings.
At first we feared a Roland Rat moment, but the bongs will be back soon.
On reflection there is a lot we in the business of trying to communicate by sound alone can learn from the birds. Birdsong is one of the purest, most poetic and intensely beautiful audio experiences nature produces. Something for all who work in radio to think about.