A celebration of a great radio talent for radio audio week

This week is “Radio Audio Week”, a series of events in London celebrating all things audio.

I love radio.

I'm not just talking about music and presenters.

I'm talking about the clever manipulation of the medium.

The occasional radio ad that surprises and engages me.

The unexpected song that takes me to a specific time and place. I can’t hear a certain Wet Wet Wet song, without being transported to a car park in Crewe, sitting with a friend who had just broken up with her boyfriend…

Oh, and great radio drama!

I love “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, which is celebrating 40 years this year.

Douglas Adams was a genius and he’s one of the influences that made me fall in love with radio.

He famously said “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Apparently, he could be Infuriatingly difficult to work with. He was always missing deadlines and putting pressure on producers, actors and directors who would have to catch up with late scripts and incomplete rewrites. Only amazing talent can behave like this and be tolerated.

The results were amazing, groundbreaking, smart, funny and some ideas have become engrained in the culture. Everyone knows the answer to life, the universe and everything. They just might not know why.

There was another great series he did, this time in front of the microphone. In “Last Chance to See” Douglas Adams went looking for animals around the globe that faced extinction and recorded the adventure. The listener would not see the animal but would hear the people he met, the incidents and adventures as he and his companion got closer. It was riveting radio!

Douglas Adams died at the age of just 49.

In the last few weeks, they've done a new series of “Hitchhikers” and it really didn't work for me. How do you do a follow-up painting to the Mona Lisa 17 years after the death of the artist? But listen to the original radio series and it still sounds fresh, 40 years on. Unlike the TV version which looked dated just 5 years after it was released.

It may be a worn cliché to say, “the pictures are better on the radio” but they are.

They just are.

Simon Rushton