Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Local Radio

Over the years that we have been in Dubai, we have seen the local English-language radio scene grow from one distinctly mediocre station (Government-owned 92 FM), to the current crop of four.

Channel 4 (based in Ajman!) was a bit of a breath of fresh air when it began broadcasting about 6 years ago. And for a few of those years it employed the services of one Jonathan Miles, whose total lack of reverence for just about anything was a joy to behold. Sadly Channel 4 sacked him in rather bizarre circumstances, and he is now working for a local radio station in Kent.

A couple of years after the launch of Channel 4 we got two new stations, the imaginatively named Radios 1 & 2. I'm far too old to listen to Radio 1 with it's endless stream of rap and hip-hop, but Radio 2 is sometimes worth a listen. R2 is a bit more 'talk-based'. Until recently it had a couple of Kiwi jocks, Shroder Evans and Tanya Burgess, and you can never really get enough of listening to Kiwis mangling their vowel sounds. The station's tagline is 'the Better Mix', and I always wanted to ask Tanya if she could remember the name of the failed VCR format from the 80s (BetaMax, which is exactly how Tanya pronounce Better Mix), just for a laugh and a bit of ritual Kiwi humiliation.

About a year ago, something weird happened to 92 FM. It was kind of taken over by (I think) the company that owns R1 & R2. They got rid of most of the old jocks, and turned the station into I don't know what really. The reason I don't know is that they abandoned the 92 FM frequency, and haven't really bothered to tell anyone what the new frequency is. And nobody has ever rushed up to me and said 'hey you should listen to this great new station, it used to be 92 FM'.

About a week ago, I made an amazing discovery - fiddling about trying to tune the radio in the new car, I heard the sound of Big Ben bonging, and the dulcet tones of an announcer saying 'this is the World Service of the BBC'. Yeehaaaa. Proper talkie radio. No advertising, and absolutely no-one who cannot pronounce 'tsunami'. And plenty of meaningful silence.