Friday, 13 November 2015

Radio Review: 13 November

One of the airwaves most beloved voices is silenced

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176The Today prog closed with a touching tribute to beloved former Radio 4 chief announcer Peter Donaldson when he died last week. His reassuring, authoritative tones had been chosen for the recorded message to be played if the balloon ever went up.

‘Stay calm and stay in your own house,’ ran the apocalyptic tape, ‘we shall be on the air every hour, on the hour. Stay tuned to this wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries. That is the end of this broadcast.’ If the following programme had been Midweek rather than The Life Scientific, I’d have complied enthusiastically.

Former Radio 4 controller Michael Green said Donaldson’s voice was ‘timeless’, fitting in perfectly with the changes the network went through from the 1970s to his retirement in 2012. Brian Perkins, another great R4 voice, said Donaldson was quite anarchic at times, particularly towards BBC management, announcing himself as ‘Donald Peterson’ and telling listeners to tune to other stations when a daft scheduling decision split Today into two separate halves.

Meanwhile, there’s a glorious remembrance of Donaldson on Corrie Corfield’s blog (http:// corriecorfield.blogspot.co. uk/2015/11/leave-pause-until-ithurts- memories-of.html). She remembers him counselling against coming in too soon after a heavy or emotionally draining programme. ‘Leave a pause until it hurts,’ he advised.

Also, Corrie relates glorious tales of appraisals completed on beer mats in the pub and ‘Greek Fridays’ (he’d lived in Cyprus) where he’d bring taramasalata, olives and wine in for colleagues. Small wonder that Corrie describes him as ‘the best boss I’ve ever had’. For listeners who felt they knew him, the sense of loss is enough. For those who really knew him, it must be unbearable.

Louis on Twitter: @LF Barfe or email: wireless@cheeseford.net



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