Thursday, October 05, 2006


I listen to BBC Radio 3 far less than I should do these days, and largely on the internet (because of poor equipment and reception problems here in Exeter). But I still regard it as, without doubt, the most important musical tutor in my life – I’ve revelled in everything from opera at the Grand Met and the Proms seasons right through to world music, jazz, contemporary, Night Waves, Mixing It (of course) Late Junction, Michael Berkeley’s Private Passions. The list is without end. So I have particular reason to rejoice that, as of 28 September 2006, R3 has been around for sixty glorious years – starting off as the Third Programme I remember reverentially from my childhood.

For me the two defining directors have been Roger Wright (1998–present), who has had the courage to change, and Sir John Drummond (1987–92) who stuck by contemporary music. I also ought to be especially grateful for the often-forgotten Stephen Hearst (1972–78), who, as well as expanding and developing my classical tastes, went with the late Derek Jewell’s Sounds Interesting. It was this programme that enabled me to sample art rock, fusion, folk and a range of ‘popular’ music with serious consequences. The programme for the anniversary celebrations is typically imaginative – and, contrary to Radio 3’s dreary ‘traditionalist’ critics, who put their own ossified preferences above musical adventure, it’s exactly where the station should be right now.

Very much a minority experience, but a veritable life-support machine for vital aural culture.

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