Religion Magazine

Copper Coils and Life on Mars

By Richardl @richardlittleda

2LO calling

At 17.33 GMT yesterday, BBC Radio marked its 90th anniversary by airing the same piece simultaneously across 55 radio stations. You can hear it for yourself if you click on the picture of the original 2LO transmitter below. I missed the broadcast at the time, but have listened to it several times this morning. Even after doing so, I still cannot quite decide what I think of Damon Albarn’s composition. Certainly it evokes the era when radio emerged from Heath Robinson like contraptions such as the one pictured below. There are also allusions to famous moments such as the nightingale singing with a cello and the reassuring chimes of Big Ben. Across the sound-scape float children’s voices, speaking directly to the future and discussing life on Mars like you and I might discuss our next holiday. It was quirky, evocative…and slightly disturbing.

What I missed, though, was the pictures. One of those qualities for which I admire radio the most is its capacity to paint pictures on the canvas of the mind with an intensity which outshines any image painted with brush or pixel. Some of the great moments of history narrated on the radio are part of the BBC’s illustrious history – and I felt they were lost here amongst the pastiche of other sounds.

Have a listen yourself, and see what you think…

Copper coils and life on Mars

Image: CLICK for 2LO calling

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