In this edition of ‘Sound Archive’ we delve again into my mid 1990s cassettes of Radio Fours ‘Mediumwave’ programme. This was a thirty minute slot on the media, much like today’s ‘Media Show’, but with what appears to be a bigger budget as it had not just round table talks in the studio but also nicely crafted packages.

In this recording from 1995, Time Out’s radio critic Sid Smith package investigates one of the most important natural resources a radio broadcaster has – their voice.

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The piece includes varied anecdotes from notable DJs and broadcasters, including Radio One’s Annie Nightingale, who noted:

People say I sound like I stay up really late and smoke lots of cigarettes and hang out in very dodgy bars and things like that – which is probably largely true.

“Russ and Jono” from the then Virgin Radio breakfast show discuss their warm up technique with Jonathan Coleman reciting a story from down under:

There was actually a guy in Australia who actually went out on the balcony area of the radio station. He used to go out an yell at the cars, this was early in the morning … people didn’t know if it was to clear his throat or to get his voice ready, or if he was just barking mad.

Woman’s Hour’s Jenni Murray reckoned that a voice just needs to be pleasant, voice over artist Paul Valice pondered the “ironic advert” accompanied by an XFM promo example. Meanwhile Tommy Vance thought the modern DJ runs a mile from the Smashy and Nicey image:

I think I’m certainly on my way out. I think DJs these days sound different primarily because they come from a different area of training. A significant number of DJs now come from the clubs, they have to talk over the noise that they themselves are creating, so they talk “up there”.


Photo Credits: æsthetics of rock and roll by Ulisse Albiati