Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Much missed - Speechification, curated radio documentaries

2008 was a happy year. I seem to have discovered the world of podcasts and listened to loads of them via a tiny mp3 player to which I saved downloaded programmes via a USB cable. Radiolab has been a long-term favourite since then and I discovered the Speechification podcast and blog probably towards the end of its runtime. I'm not sure how I came across it but I've mentioned it in 30 tweets since 23 September 2008, generally pointing out a particular programme I'd heard there.

Speechification was run by Steve Bowbrick, Roo Reynolds, Russell Davies and others and its aim was to curate English-language speech-based programmes from radio and help people hear a wide range of stuff. There was plenty from BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4. I can't remember the exact history of the BBC's Listen Again service aka iPlayer at that time but I think that it wasn't always so straightforward to hear a programme if you'd missed it. Even now programmes have a shelf-life (often 29 days to listen) before quietly sinking back into the archives to be released at a future date (often after two years have elapsed). So programmes oscillate between being briefly available and then having "This programme is not currently available" added to their landing page. Speechification let you listen a little longer.

So when it closed in late 2010 and took down its archives there was a bit of an audio gap for some of these programmes, but audio-only things have started popping up every so often on YouTube (admittedly probably a bit dodgy from a copyright point of view). Here are some things I've discovered through Speechification and loved, with their YouTube or other links if they're available to listen.

Other places to find interesting audio include the Internet Archive, Box of Broadcasts and for sonic snippets of old tech try the Museum of Endangered Sounds (eg )

Josie Long's "All of the Planet's Wonders" on Plants

Stephen Fry - Third Reich and Roll
"Stephen Fry tells the story of how Hitler's huge financial investment in recording for propaganda purposes gave rise to modern recording techniques" - not available at time of this blog post

Spoon, Jar, Jar, Spoon - The Two Sides of Tommy Cooper
"Rob Brydon explores two sides to comedian Tommy Cooper - his humour and his love of magic. On stage, Cooper assumed a manic and bumbling persona, but behind this was a man with a genuine talent for magic, as revealed by contributions from magicans Paul Daniels, Alan Alan and Ali Bongo." - not available at time of this blog post

The Archive Hour: Putting it Simply
"Kathy Sykes charts the way that science has been seen and heard on radio and television, from postwar lectures to modern animations." - "Sorry, this episode is not currently available"

Simon Fanshawe's Tracking the Lincolnshire Poacher

also available at

Mark Miodownik's How to Write an Instruction Manual - available
BBC page - not available

Fifteen Inches Per Second - 2004
A brief guide to the history and use of 1/4 inch magnetic tape. - available
BBC page - couldn't find it! Found its info in BBC Genome (Radio Times listing).

Jarvis Cocker's Musical Map of Sheffield

Rainer Hersch's Gershwin's Horns - not available on BBC at time of writing but if you work at a UK university or other HE institution you may be able to access it via the Box of Broadcasts (BoB) which is a MASSIVE collection of audio for educational use. Shame it's not public though, sorry - actually starts at 6m 30s in.

Other posts in the Much missed 'series'
Much missed - MOMI, London's Museum of the Moving Image
Much missed - The National Geographic shop on Regent Street, London 

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