Tuesday, February 28, 2006

BBC News Online has a
cracking tale about an Indian radio station that makes the Falkland Islands Radio Service look like CNN.

Electrical engineer Raghav Mahato runs a wildly popular pirate radio station in impoverished Bihar state using a transmitter he built for the princely sum of $1.

His makeshift studio consists of a few ancient cassette machines linked by a spaghetti soup of wires held together with sellotape.

If that studio shorts out, Raghav would doubtedlessly be burnt to a crisp.

Radio doesn't get more grassroots than this.

If anyone in the blogosphere has a direct link with Raghav, let me know. I'd be delighted to pay for a complete overhaul of his studio.
Tomorrow I'll reach the grand old age of 34 -- and you can express your condolences by dipping into my Amazon Wishlist.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"There is crass irresponsibility in some of the larger monstrosities people drive around suburbia and in London. We have to move against this kind of thing,"
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks.

Hear hear.
After weeks of indecision I've finally decided not to take up my place in this year's Great North Run.

The reasons were financial rather than physical.

I calculated that with overpriced hotels, rail fares and assorted expenses, taking part in the run was going to cost somewhere in the region of £500.

That's a hell of a lot of money for a trip to Tyneside -- especially as the general consensus seems to be that the hordes of out-of-shape fun runners clogging the roads and a finishing line in the wilderness of South Shields can make the day something of a nightmare.

For a fraction of the cost of getting to Newcastle for the Great North Run I'm signing up for the Brussels 20k -- and plan to have a pop at the Rejkjavik Half Marathon and the London Duathlon later in the year.

Friday, February 24, 2006


The BBC produces some strange and anachronistic programmes but few are as strange as Calling The Falklands.

The twice-weekly programme began in 1944, and became a crucial source of news during the Argentinian invasion in 1982.

I've even reported for the programme myself in the dim and distant past.

There's something about the idea of a programme produced in the heart of London for an audience of a few thousand sheep farmers and squaddies in the furthest corner of the British Empire that appeals to every radio anorak.

But sadly times have moved on, and Calling The Falklands is being axed after 62 years.

To the relief of Falklanders, however, Country Crossroads with Bill Mac and Saddle-Up with Ali will continue to be broadcast on the Falkland Islands Radio Service.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Losing your artificial leg once is unfortunate.

Losing it twice smacks of carelessness.
Iraq, as a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists made clear, has become the deadliest conflict for journalists for 25 years.

The journalists working in Baghdad at the moment are seeking to make working lives a little safer by setting up a Foreign Press Association.

The association would act as a central point of contact for the authorities, a forum for pooling information and safety advice and a single voice for the foreign press working in Iraq.

The costs of setting up the FPAI -- offices, translators etc -- would be modest and each press organisation is being asked to contribute to the start-up costs.

Here's where the problems start.

Some multi-million dollar outfits -- who are perfectly prepared to send their staff on the most dangerous assignment in the world -- are balking at the prospect of contributing just a few thousand dollars to help set up an organisation that could one day save the lives of journalists working in the field.

They should be utterly ashamed.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thanks to USA Today's Kimberly Johnson for judging this blog "worth reading."

She's right, of course.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

On the corner of a busy junction in Acton that I pass twice a day during my cycle to and from work a small shrine of flowers and cards has sprung up alongside police signs appealing for witnesses to a "fatal incident."

The incident in question is the death of law student Patricia McMillan, who was thrown under the wheels of a truck while cycling.

The papers have latched onto the fact that Miss McMillan was listening to her iPod when she was killed, speculating that she may still be alive if she hadn't been doing so.

Matt Seaton highlights the case in his weekly Guardian column.

I, like other cyclists I know, have been brought to our senses by Miss McMillan's death and are now riding without iPods for safety reasons.

But Matt Seaton makes another, more philosophical point.

We cycle because we love the feeling of freedom, the wind whistling past out ears, the fact that we're not stuck ina traffic jam or cooped up in a train carriage.

How can we enjoy these things if we've got the Arctic Monkeys hammering away in our ears?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


As a non-cigarette smoker, the vote by MPs to ban smoking in all pubs and clubs in England can't come soon enough.

It looks as though it won't be long before it'll be possible to go out for a quiet pint and a chat without coming home smelling like a stale ashtray.

As someone who's proud of his well-stocked humidor, however, I fear one of the most enjoyable and decadent pleasures of London life could be about to be outlawed.

Can it really be the case that by 2008, savouring a carefully-chosen Montecristo at Floridita will be just a distant memory?

Will it be more acceptable to shoot up heroin in a stairwell than to while away an hour nursing a Cohiba in the cigar room at Dunhills on Jermyn Street or the nearby Davidoff store?

Smoke-free cities like New York have left the (humi)door open for smoking haunts by issuing special cigar bar exemptions to selected establishments.

Please....please....let the same happen over here.
Available now in all good newsagents -- the March edition of Esquire.

Its got Sharon Stone on the cover, an interview with George Clooney -- and the one-legged Welsh bloke on page 75 in a feature on "What It Feels Like To....."

The programmes on offer as part of the BBC's podcasting trial have become permanent fixtures on my iPod -- giving me a chance to catch up with From Our Own Correspondent, Sportsweek and the World Service documentary archive during my weekly run along the Thames.

Now, the trial is set to expand, with a wealth of new programmes being added to the mix.

Never mind the Jeremy Paxman download -- the BBC Southern Counties Radio Brighton and Sussex Breakfast Show is coming soon to an MP3 player near you.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"How many legs do you need to be a radio presenter, anyway?" asks my colleague Nick Clarke's surgeon.

Nick is currently recovering from an above-knee amputation carried out because of a malignant tumour.

He writes about his experience on the BBC news website.

Within BBC radio we now have an amputee presenter (Nick), producer (myself) and studio manager, (colleague Adrian).

Three men. Three legs. Great radio.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The annual World Press Photo awards are always a stunning showcase of the finest photojournalism -- and this year's winners are no exception.

My personal favourite is Michael Appleton's Apocalyse Now-esque image taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Be careful what you wish for -- because you might just get it.

A few months back I entered the ballot for the Great North Run, the world's biggest half marathon.

I've just been told I've secured a place in the race -- but now I can't decide whether to take it.

It's not the distance that bothers me -- it's the question of whether I want to spend a weekend on Tyneside, running through overcrowded streets and staying in a hotel which has been marked up exorbitantly for the race.

Then again, it could be the race of a lifetime.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I've been contacted by the Radio 4 programme Off The Page which is putting together a show about diaries and blogging.

They're particularly interested in exploring the art of diary keeping and discussing the differences between private diaries and public blogs.

They're looking to talk to a female blogger, based in the UK, who keeps a confessional/personal blog.

The programme will be recorded in London or Bristol on February 22nd.

Do you fit the bill? Or do you have a favourite blog that does?

E-mail me or write a comment before next Monday and I'll pass on all suggestions to the programme.
A year ago today, our friend and colleague Kate Peyton was gunned down while on assignment in Somalia.

This evening, some of those who knew her will raise a glass in her memory.

But Kate's killers are still walking free in Mogadishu.