When I was living in the States, I was a fan of National Public Radio. In Rochester, New York, radio woke me with a half hour of bird song from around the world. It was so much gentler than a raucous alarm. Later, during my years in Seattle, Washington, radio kept me informed and entertained as I prepared meals or cleaned cupboards. It was like having a friend whose flow of conversation was always interesting.
Love took me to Canada in 1990. That was before the days of audio streaming. Vancouver Island might as well have been across the globe. I could no longer listen to Prairie Home Companion or my favourite news shows.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation saved the day. Bill Richardson was hosting Richardson’s Roundup, but I always thought of it as “Sad Goat” because the show’s call-in number was 1-888-SAD GOAT. People from all over British Columbia would call in with stories that were touching, funny, and sometimes even downright weird. The show is not on the air any more, but the tales and letters were gathered into a book, Dear Sad Goat: A Roundup of Truly Canadian Tales & Letters. Richardson and topnotch news coverage gradually connected me to the strange new place where I had landed.
In 2008 my partner (a different love from the one who brought me to Canada) took me to Australia to meet his family. For the months we were away, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation became my radio companion. They had the same mix I’m always drawn to: news and stories. One of my favourite shows was Australia All Over, a call-in show much like “Sad Goat”. From every corner of that great land came stories that made me feel connected.
Thanks to the Web, I can have all three, plus the BBC and anything else with streaming audio or podcasts. Such a feast!
Public radio, I love you, and I am happy to pay taxes to keep you on the air.