Article published on January 6, 2017.
I listen to the radio every single day.
I believe that this is one of the most valuable things I can do as a writer. Just like reading, listening requires us to use the creative part of our brain to make the pictures in our head. I hope that the more I do this, the better I am at making up stories.
I might be slightly biased about all of this as I have been working in radio production for the past twenty-five years (as a Broadcast Assistant). I’ve worked across a wide range of programmes – from documentaries and music shows to plays and comedy series and this certainly made me realise the variety of programming that is available.
So, what do I listen to most? Well, I guess it’s a little bit of everything. I tend to flick between music stations in the car and speech based programmes at home. BBC Radio 4 is probably my most listened to station and I subscribe to a few of their podcasts and I also love the Desert Island Disc back catalogue that goes back to the 1940s.
If you are new to the radio I’d highly recommend dipping in to ‘The Listening Project’. BBC Radio and the British Library joined forces to create this audio archive of conversations. Here you can find hundreds of one-to-one chats that have been recorded by the BBC around the country, on various subjects of the speakers’ choice. Anyone can go onto the website and listen to hours of these conversations and some are utterly riveting. Just like overhearing a chat on the bus, there is something compelling in just listening to your fellow human beings. You can hear every topic imaginable; from love and politics to families and loss, and it’s absorbing. And from a writer’s point of view, it’s a magpie’s nest full of twinkling story ideas.
I remember hearing a trailer on BBC Radio 3 that was talking about an upcoming programme that featured a certain composer. The presenter described this composer in a remarkable way. He said; “The music he created is so powerful, you can lean against it”. Well, that is exactly how I feel about the radio. This amazing medium that we can access by simply pressing a button is like a big cushion of sound, which we can all sink into.
Lisa Thompson worked as a radio broadcast assistant first at the BBC and then for an independent production company making plays and comedy programmes. During this time she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She grew up in Essex and now lives in Suffolk with her family. The Goldfish Boy is her debut novel.
The Goldfish Boy is available now, wherever books are sold.