Over the course of the twentieth century, the Canadian communications scholar Marshall McLuhan wrote and spoke of a global village. No longer would we be barred by borders or oceans to interact with the world. Instead, we could communicate with one another and have access to the same opportunities, thanks to the development of new technology. This village would be connected, and people could expand their horizons with this new technology.
Indeed, what also came with the global village, was the development of technology that changed current mediums, allowing them to have a bigger reach, to allow us to not just be entertained, but educated.
Anticipation and intrigue
The medium of radio in the UK, which saw its popularity increase during the time of McLuhan’s lectures, was strengthened with the introduction and expansion of the global village. It allowed new opportunities to listen, to engage and to gain new perspectives, be it current affairs or culture.
Within the past couple of weeks, with some help from the BBC Proms, radio was signified as a premier model of education, as it was decades earlier.
It began at the Royal Albert Hall. BBC digital station 1Xtra was about to put on its own Late Night Prom, the second one in two years. The crowds awaited in anticipation as Jules Buckley took to the rostrum, to hear orchestral arrangements of grime and hip-hop music.
Though the genres themselves may not be to everyone’s tastes, the orchestral arrangement of tunes by Lethal Bizzle and Wretch 32 made for captivating listening, and allowed for, in the words of Radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill, a unique Prom, with an extraordinary blend of British rhymes and European instrumentation. As she tweeted me as the Prom went out live, she was loving every minute.
— Clemency Burton-Hill (@clemencybh) August 12, 2015
More than a performance
Yet, 1Xtra’s Prom, like its sister station Radio 1 with their Prom celebrating dance tunes of Ibiza weeks earlier, featuring interpretations of songs by Daft Punk, was more than just a performance. It was an ability to educate. The Proms was more than just about Kraus, Fauré, Beethoven or Mozart, it was about wider genres like electronic music, acoustic music, and grime. It allowed for a modern cultural education through a distinct medium, something that could not be found anywhere else.
The Proms performances too however allowed for the other side of the coin when it comes to education, particularly when it comes to pieces of orchestral works or soloists. Whether its listening to the works of renowned British composers like Britten and Elgar and the American comedian and writer Seth MacFarlane paying tribute to Frank Sinatra earlier this month, or recently pausing to consider the effects of specific musical spectacles like the piano concerto.
Although there is a month left to go, the Proms this season have established themselves to be more than a series of performances. It has become a part of modern education which can be provided through the most intimate and personal of mediums.
Radio 3 is enhancing this global village by entertaining and educating about the diverse world of culture, irrespective of ocean or border. This time of the year is one of the reasons why Radio 3 allows itself to be an integral part of education by radio.
The BBC gives a number of opportunities to listen to an eclectic mix of programmes—a number of ways for education by radio. Radio 3 is one of the core reasons why it excels at it, and why they should be proud of their work.
Marshall McLuhan would be proud, very proud, indeed.
You can listen to Proms broadcasts via the iPlayer on the Radio 3 web site for up to 30 days.
What do you think? How significant is the Proms on the radio? Have your say in the comments section below.