Tag Archives: BBC Radio 4

Thoughts on being replaced by an IPhone

Now I am past fifty, perhaps I can be forgiven for being nostalgic on occasion. Both my husband and I worked for the BBC in the 1980s (he did for much longer than I did). He spent his time on top of high points around the country ensuring signals from outside broadcast events made it back to TV centre in London. He was eventually replaced by a satellite link.

I was a programme assistant for BBC Radio 4. A grand title for a very lowly job, I mainly made sure the important people got tea and coffee, I typed script, booked studios and booked equipment (like uhers, tape recorders which weighed a ton – does anyone remember them?). I remember the air in our office smelling of newspaper and newspaper ink.

One of my tasks was to do the post production contracts. I would listen to the programme on a huge reel-to-reel tape machine, timing interviews and use of music, so that I could calculate what needed to be paid for. If I was lucky, the studio manager would have forgotten to attach the yellow tape which always came at the end of the programme tape, and I could do a bit of splicing of my own. Being in my early twenties, I found this ridiculously exciting!

The other thing I was responsible for was the bookings for when people were going to be interviewed ‘down the line’. This was important because ordinary phone connections weren’t good enough quality for broadcast, so we had to book a feed which was cleaner. A story my husband told me last week, therefore, raised a wry smile. He now volunteers at the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre (http://www.scarboroughsmaritimeheritage.org.uk/index.php) and had been asked by a local radio station for an interview. When it came to it, they rang him on an ordinary phone and asked him whether he had access to an Iphone. He said he did not and they said they were unable to continue (which I thought a bit poor).

It did make me think, however, of my time in BBC Radio 4 special current affairs and of how much of my job there has been superseded by technology. All you need now, apparently, is an Iphone.