Silent Radio

Ian R Thorpe By Ian R Thorpe, 15th Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Humour>Off Beat

The have been few real innovations in entertainment recently, it may argued the internet is new but really it is a different way of delivering text, audio and video to the consumer. One totally new idea that was thrown up in Britain a while ago looked to have a great deal of potential but does not seem to be catching on. This article looks at where it went wrong for silent radio..

The New, Silent Entertainment Medium:

Silent Radio, when launched in Britain in 2008 was the first completely new concept in news, talk and musical entertainment via broadcast media. Absolutely nobody had ever done it before local station Radio Teesdale went on the air broadcasting total silence in March 2008.

Silence is not new of course, we have had Silent Theatre, mime artists were one of the earliest forms of theatrical entertainment; we have had Silent Movies, a sensation in their day but now something of a niche form found mostly in French Art-House theatres, we have silent TV occasionally, usually a show called “We apologise for the temporary loss of sound; we have even had silent classical music four minutes and 16 seconds of it if my memory serves me well..

Silent Radio however is a brilliant new idea. Who want to listen to babbling DJs and music chosen by somebody else?

The station that has pioneered silent radio broadcasts is not some avant garde technology venture aimed at geeks who insist on listening to digital radio even though the sound quality is so crappy the experience becomes painful after a few seconds. Radio Teesdale, a UK local station has been around for years broadcasting music, news and chat on AM and FM bands and with a web feed. Absolutely conventional stuff.

On Wednesday 5 March, 2008 however, a busy news day, the flagship breakfast show began to broadcast silence. Fans of the family loved it. “We can have conversations around the table again,” people said. Fr.. Benedict Golightly of the Trappist monastery in Teesborough wrote a message on his chalkboard saying “at last we can let the monks listen to the radio without breaking their vow of silence now.”
Teesdale police reported a drop in accident rates which they attributed to drivers being able to keep their minds on the road rather than singing along with Bat Out Of Hell or Bohemian Rhapsody.

So who was responsible for the idea of silent radio. Station staff were coy about who started it all.

The experiment began during a live broadcast from 900 year old Barnard Castle where reports of paranormal activity in the dungeons had been attracting a lot of media attention. As presenter Andy Greener chatted about results from the Primaries in the US Presidential Election, a crisis brewing in Palestine, the resignation of a British politician, football (soccer) results and trivia and kept up a running joke about paranormal phenomena in the castle nobody was hearing him.

”Aha!” you might well think, this is the work of spirits. But Andy is not Alan Partridge nor is he a medium and it was not a case of spooks invading the studio and messing up the electronics. What happened was that the producer, several miles away in the studio, did not want to interrupt Andy to tell him there was a technical fault while he was chatting about serious news (do you notice a case of not thinking things through properly here?) and only tried to call him on the intercom when he was doing the Barnard Castle ghosts nonesense.

Andy on the other hand was so intent on his surreal flights of fancy about ghosts, spirits and creatures of the nether world he completely failed to notice the red intercom light on his console flashing.

The story that gripped Andy’s attention so, because you are dying to know, concerns a dungeon in the ancient castle in which there is said to be a portal that leads to another dimension, the nether world; The Summerlands or Caer Sidhe depending on whether you are a Milesian or Goidelic Celt (oh yes, I know about these things). What Andy was telling his non-audience was that people can only pass through the portal into a parallel universe if they are wearing nothing but striped undershorts and a woolly hat with a little bobble on top like one of the characters in South Park wears.

Every time the producer tried to raise Andy he was further into his story about the terrible fate that had befallen people who tried to pass through the portal while not appropriately attired. Eventually he noticed the warning light however and switched on the intercom channel.

“For God’s sake hit the red button,” the producer yelled, “ nothing has gone out for an hour.”

Andy had forgotten to switch from automatic overnight mode, which plays bland, easy listening music when the station is not broadcasting live. And the musak tape had ended on schedule.

So Radio Teesdale was back on the air and the great silent radio experiment was pronounced a failure. The trappist monks at the local monastery were devastated when their raido listening privilege was cancelled, families relapsed into sullen silence over breakfast and drivers belted into each other while belting out Bat Out Of Hell.

Alas we shall never know the terrible fate of those people who passed through the Barnard Castle time/space portal when not wearing the proper outfit. Did they return safely or are they still wandering the nether world dressed only in spotted budgie smugglers and baseball caps?

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Entertainment, History, Humor, Humour, Radio, Supernatural

Meet the author

author avatar Ian R Thorpe
Born Manchester UK, 1948. varied early career from clerk via construction site worker and street trader to I T consultant. Performance poet, broadcaster, fiction writer and essayist on many topics.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
16th Dec 2013 (#)

Ha Ha Ha! Nicely woven tale.

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
18th Dec 2013 (#)

Tale? It is perfectly true (except for the bits I made up).

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
16th Dec 2013 (#)

Good evening, Ian; enjoyable and fun read. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
18th Dec 2013 (#)

I like to mix up the fun and more serrious stuff - but at this time of year fun is top priority

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
18th Dec 2013 (#)

Nice post Ian.Happy Holidays and nice to read your excellent posts and looking forward to 2014!,

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
18th Dec 2013 (#)

I haven't even got into my stride here yet :-)

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