2 + 2 = 5, the Dialogue Project. A man actively listens to people. So you hear more of him than you would on a radio interview. And it’s online (with tie-ins to live events), so could never for instance get reviewed in The Times (they’ll only review stuff that goes out over-the-air, in their dead-tree newspaper and paywalled website. Hmm). 2 + 2 = 5 is its own style, and quite amazing. Karl James talks to, for instance, Jane, who was raped when she was 14. Before her story, James advises you to listen only if you are in a good place. Good advice. And if you follow it, and can listen, you’ll wonder why anybody watches TV dramas. Certainly they are well written, performed, lit, filmed, edited… this story however has everything in common with the TV dramas except that is recounted from real life.
Radio 4′s Documentary of the Week podcast struggles because, as you can imagine with such a product, it has a lot of people to please. Some weeks listening to it is dispiriting, and I find a backlog, that I will often start then skim, simply to kill the blue dot. This week however, was a look back at 70 years of Desert Island Discs. Who knew Michael Parkinson was a short-lived and almost controversial presenter? Some lovely snippets in there, stemming from the seemingly simple observation early on, that finding an enduring format is a radio holy grail. An interesting jumping-off point for Jad Abumrad as he looks to making Radiolab continue being made forever.
And thirdly, Hearing Voices. A reliable listen, this can almost be too good, asking you to dedicate a lot of attention to an hour-long programme, even though you know it’s often segmented (this is good people, this is good!). Today I’ve been listening to their Voices from Tahrir, made together with Human Rights Watch. This is a fine example of audio from the NGO/International Relations field. 99% of organisations feel they must maintain a serious tone, to respect their intellectual staff and governmental user base. HRW have seen the light, and are teaming up with Hearing Voices, Barrett Golding, and whatever other great radio producer they can get their paws on. The result is NGO audio that’s appealing to listen to. That way, people listen, and pay attention, and your message gets out there. No mistake, I’m aware of this because I keep repeating the same failing myself. Big respect to HRW and Hearing Voices for getting together something that works so well it now seems like a no-brainer.