John Harris

Journalist & Author

Local communities are being silenced. We’re in the age of the ‘Unplace’ | John Harris

Towns and cities across the country are losing their radio shows. Who will tell their stories now?

If you want to understand a country’s basic pulse, listen to its commercial music radio. In the US, whatever genre of music they play, the stations crowded on to the FM waveband mix crass adverts with waves of songs uncluttered by any talking, suggesting that the only really important things are calmly getting through another very long drive while thinking about what to buy next. In Italy, what you hear is often hyperactive to the point of absurdity, as if there is simply too much to say and too much music to play, and the clock must endlessly be raced against.

And Britain? Beyond the BBC’s Radios 1, 2, 3, 6 Music and its city and county stations, there are set-ups traditionally grouped under the heading of “independent local radio”: stations whose output suggests that a lot of us crave something that can distract us from whatever crisis the country has fallen into, while demanding little in return apart from keeping the dial where it is.

Related: Scores of UK radio stations to lose local programmes

Related: Distinct radio voices: why we need local heroes

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