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The Listener back to frontpage week: 28.1.00
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here has already been a huge amount of interest in this edition of The Listener. Please tell us what you think - either about the magazine in general or about specific articles.

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Your contributions

I agree with every word of Jon Agnew's article on Talk's coverage of the Test series in South Africa. Talk did the deal in secret, and showed no commitment to serving an audience of cricket lovers - their coverage was fine if you wanted to catch the latest score on your way into work in the morning, but - with the possible exception of Mark Nicholas - unlistenable for anything more than a ten minute stretch. It was a TV commentary on the radio - with no chance to take advantage of the space a radio commentary allows to convey the atmosphere of the game, the tactics or a general flavour of what it was like to actually be at the game (probably because the commentators had to read those adverts out every five minutes.)
NJR, UK

When will Verity Sharp stop smacking her lips? She's not alone on Radios 3 & 4 for doing this, but in her case it's a shame because she spoils some good music. I've lost count of the number of times she does this when she opens her mouth. Does nobody check stuff like this at the BBC or isn't it rated as important any longer?
Tony Greenbank

I hope this is a real renaissance, and not a flash in the pan
Phil Manning

Whatever this is, it is NOT the Listener. Sadly.
John Bennett, UK

Not too bad, but hardly earth-shattering. British, which immediately puts it ahead of any and all current competition, but not, to choose a relevant word, radical.
Martin, Scotland

I agree with Peter Fiddick that reading an article is a pleasure and reading the screen more of a chore. However, if this means we can have The Listener once again I will happily put up with it!
Claire Map, UK

Just been looking at The Listener online for the 1st time and how great it is. Love the layout and the interesting articles. Keep up the good work, from a New Zealand view.
Ray Davey, NZ

A good idea, this revival. I'm sure it will interest large numbers if a regular publication. One question (from one who remembers the old Listener): does online (on-screen) reading dictate shorter articles/reviews, or dare you treat subjects at greater length (and in greater depth)?
AMW Green, Wales

The Listener is wonderful! I do, however, miss the good old days...London Calling, f'rinstance, instead of "BBC On Air." Waaaay too modern - don't forget that the BBC is British! It seems "Auntie Beeb" has drifted too far from her roots. What's next, a synthesized - pop version of Big Ben's bells? The BBC, as an organization, should capitalize on tradition and custom, and reclaim the credibility that's been lost.
SMH Lawrence, USA

I am nearly 65 years old and well remember the printed magazine. This on-line version shows great promise....PLEASE let's have more, especially from John Simpson
Brian Sharrocks, UK

Welcome Back to the Listener! I grew up with the magazine (I'm age 35 now) and still miss it after ten years. I gobbled up this online re-creation. There must be scope for an intelligent review/culture magazine in some media form. Please bring it back!
McTerry, UK

I enjoy the overall content of the magazine, very informative, and a different slant on the topics versus our "Yank" publications - keep up the good work.
Vank, US

What an unexpected pleasure. A billion pages on the internet now? Here at last some worth reading. Don't lose it a second time.
GH Davies, Bucks, UK

I'm only 18 so never saw the old Listener but this is brill, bring it back!
Ginga, UK

You deserve the congratulations I've been reading in Feedback. What has been lacking for so long is a forum in which radio can be critically - and continuously - discussed. In the field in which I work - university media studies - those of us who share a passion for radio are concerned at the lack of books about radio (compared with those on film and TV) which could help students articulate the enthusiasm and experience many of them have for sound and radio. And radio now is at the cutting edge of convergence; our campaign for more attention to be paid to sound and radio within media and cultural studies is not a nostalgic plea (though your return has clearly warmed some hearts and memories). The Radio Studies Network is an association of lecturers and researchers who, in partnership with radio practitioners, want to raise radio's profile in academic study. We believe this will help improve the medium's status in the public arena where radio is all too often overlooked or marginalised.
Peter M. Lewis, Radio Studies Network, London School of Economics
Radio Studies Network
(The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.)

I've been using the internet for nearly 7 years now and have seen it become dominated by organisations desperate to sell anything. And although I do buy a lot of things via the internet, its great to see that sites dedicated to slightly more cultural and egalitarian issues, can still flourish. I hope and pray that this experiment with the online Listener becomes a permanent addition to your already very good online output.
Alexandra Dickson

Liked the discussion on the Radical Centre, although a bit soft and general. Tony Blair as one-dimensional man hitting people over the head with concept-free phrases. Also liked comments on Birt. Used to buy The Listener: general impression of this version is that pieces suffer from 'softness' referred to above. Contagion of self-indulgent diaries perhaps.
Jacqueline Castles, London

A welcome return. Deserves more than one issue.
Mark Maidment, UK

What a joy to see another edition of this, my favourite magazine! I took the printed version for very many years, and still have some dusty files of articles I tore out and kept 25 or more years ago. The Listener and Penguin books were sources of real education to me. Especially so as I left school at the age of exactly 14 years and now, in my eighties, have three degrees and have run an important college. Please, please, continue.
Clifford Dack, UK

In an age where magazines are generally full of the same light weight content it is good to see the Listener back. It would make a great addition to the BBC Online ouptut.
Andy, UK

I am 34, so was just a bit too young for reading "serious" magazines when The Listener died (ie. a late developer...). BUT I have enjoyed reading your contributors articles on this e-version very much. What chance a regular on-line version? Good mix of interesting subjects, quality writing, minimalist but attractive page design, easy to navigate - all round pretty impressive.
Rob Vaughan, UK

What a breath of fresh air and a welcome return to an intelligent, free thinking old friend. Keep blowing!
Peter, UK

Great start to the new Listener. Particluar congratulations must go to the web designer for making it good looking in a modern, classical manner with decent typography (which, for those who don't know, isn't easy to do on the web) and, equally important, making it a fast download (again, not as easy as it might seem). An article on how this was achieved, complete with technical speak so that it's useful, would be appreciated. Good, too, if there were more radio programme reviews and a letter page etc. Better still if this issue isn't a one-off...
Buzz Associates, Cambridgeshire

Great to see The Listener once more - not for the last time, hopefully! The variety of subject matter & the balanced, quality to be found in all its articles - John Simpson especially - is refreshing. Congratulations & best wishes for the future,
Karen Alexander, Cymru/Wales

Please continue ! I would be prepared to pay a modest subscription for an online magazine of the standard of the old Listener. Have you thought of taking an online poll on this question ? I would prefer this to lots of advertising, for example.
Simon Dixey, UK

Don't you think that you should be contacting Michael Rich about the Listener Crossword?
Den and Mary, England

Well, you seem to have got a better response than you dared hope for. 8 out of 10 - a bit lightweight, but none the worse for that.
Barry, UK

It is wonderful to have The Listener back. Congratulations to whoever is behind it. PLEASE let it continue. A print version in addition would be wonderful. Not everyone has access to the Internet. What would the cover price have to be?
John Foad, England

I've just read John Simpson's piece on the 56K revolution and must largely agree with all he's said. But he has missed one important point regarding the use of e-mail. It may be wonderful for the reporter to get in touch and file when he or she wants or needs to, but it doesn't solve the problem of editors being unable to reach correspondents in return.
David Vincent, Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong

Interesting, I especially enjoyed, Fergal Keane's article and the one on Radical Politics. Please bring out a regular edition
H Annett, France

Shame on you, Mr Radcliffe. Get thee to a library.
R Allen, Finland

What great news! I used to read the old Listener, and realised today how much I missed it. PLEASE make it a regular thing.
Elwin Cockett, Essex

How wonderful to see The Listener popping up again, this time on the Net. I fondly remember the Peter Fiddick and Alan Coren eras. Of course, all that was before the days of 'dumbing down'. Makes a change to see the BBC at last 'dumbing up'. What a marvellous week! The Listener back and John Birt gone. Whatever next?!!
Tony Green, UK

The magazine is good ... with the exception of Mark Radcliffe. As a postgraduate in mathematics, I am irritated beyond belief by the lack of scientific knowledge and the flippant tone taken by so many "cultured" people. Science (especially British science) has changed the world out of all recognition - and for the better. Mr Radcliffe's idea that science "fails to crack the problems that affect us all" is verging on the lunatic. I suffered badly from yellow jaundice as a small baby and without medical science I would have died aged 2 weeks. C P Snow's idea of the two cultures is, sadly, still relevant. I believe that the scientists are going to have to explain themselves in words of one syllable, as it is clear that the "intelligentsia" is unwilling to make even a miniscule effort to understand the science that they take for granted.
L Kilford, UK

A happy rebirthday. Looks good - I look forward to seeing it last the pace. Will the crossword be repatriated, though? Now here's an idea. Perhaps The Listener could offer English-language transcriptions of all the contributions to these one-day pan-European events which bejewel Radio 3 from time to time, allowing us to listen to the continuity announcers in their own languages. No, I don't speek a word of Finnish or Portuguese either, but it would somehow be more ... er ... pan-European.
Iain, UK

Looks good, easy to navigate, reads well - more please!
Claire Barber, UK

A real pleasure!! Since the demise of the Listener only the London Review of Books still offers writing to this quality. It's a pity this renewal is for one issue only - any chance of a second chance?
A Evans, UK

I haven't had time to read The Listener yet so have printed it for savouring later. I think I became a regular subscriber when I was about 20 and am now a fairly mature OAP. I was really fed up when the Listener was discontinued and am delighted to see it in any form although for me, I would prefer it properly printed. However, money talks, or lack of it. There has to be something for those of us who don't read The Woman's Weekly or Good Housekeeping, good as I am sure these publications are.
Jean, Scotland

It is wonderful to see such a respected magazine such as "The Listener" making a comeback, even if it in electronic form. The internet needs a site like "The Listener" a magazine type format, to provide thought provoking debate on the media. Long may it continue.
DM Cahill, Ireland

I used to read The Listener in the school library and occasionally carried on the habit until its death. It was only when it had gone that I realised how much I missed it. Its return is excellent news. Now, if you could arrange to print it and distribute to WH Smith and company . . . I'd gladly pay 2+ a week for the privelege.
Nigel, Farnborough, UK

Absolutely wonderful to see The Listener back again, albeit in a web format. I was devastated when the decision was made to cease publication as one real weekly treat was to sit and read the magazine with a the accompaniment of a pint or two of real ale. One compliment that this brought about was being asked one evening by an Australian visitor to the East Midlands what I was reading - when I showed him and told him about the magazine he said something to the effect of "Strewth, I've never seen so many words printed so small on page after page after page - and not too many pictures either!"
Ernie Williams, England

This is an absolutely splendid idea, reviving one of the most useful side-products of the BBC but also, one hopes, capable of developing a clear role for itself and a distinctive house-style.
Lewis Gunn


Welcome back, and congratulations on the new format. I always enjoyed reading the Listener.
Frank Norman, Scotland

Just wanted to say hello again to an old friend. I subscribed to the Listener as a student (at a wonderful discount) so I never missed the combination of background and wit. I feel I knew Stephen Fry long before his literary career! I was very disappointed that it closed, even after ITV (yes ITV) helped support the magazine for the year. Can we revive it on the net? I hope so.
Brian, UK

I am very pleased to see the return of the Listener. I would like to see transcripts of arts/culture shows such as The Late Review, Start the Week and Front Row which I often miss. Real audio may be worth having for some of these but considering the time involved a simple transcript would be best.
Paul, Great Britain

It was good to recover the substantial and magisterial quality of the articles we used to read in the Listener. I was not sure it would survive the change of medium, but it has, and I happily printed out my selection of articles. Not the same as the pleasure of turning over printed pages and catching sight of something which I might otherwise have missed. But it was like finding a lost friend - older, wiser, more worldly-weary, modestly pleased about having cracked the new technology - but a friend just the same. Welcome back!
Elinor Kelly, Scotland

I've heard so much about The Listener - It has such a reputation and this site looks so inviting and has so much potential. Please continue this venture. I'll gladly pay a nominal sum to be in the Listener Club. Why not make the magazine available to download in PDF format? Well Done!!!
Vox, Ireland

I read the Listener as a sixth former in the late 70s and then lost it. Hearing about this edition on Radio 4, - "the other institution" - I had to find the web site. It feels like a familiar face. I will put it on my favourites in the hope that I will find it again!
Richard, England

At long last The Listener is back. It should never have gone away, long may it continue in electronic form.
David Frank, UK

Clear, concise, thoughtful, wide-ranging, familiar yet still contemporary. Welcome back! You never should have gone away. Don't you dare whet our appetites and then disappear again.
Rob, UK

A Big thank you for resurrecting the Listener, albeit just the once (say it ain't so!). The magazine should never have died in the first place... the quality of the writing I have seen on this site today suggests the main reason why. Wit AND wisdom on a single web site? Surely not! And I insist you make this a regular thing!!
Howard, Australia

At last! Intelligent life on the Web!
Rhodri Davies, Wales

Is this a publishing exercise, or a branding exercise? Content is about right for a pilot; the real challenge is to recreate that "Listener experience" consistently over a period of time. If you are seriously thinking of doing this, I wish you all the best. Some ideas: I would probably visit the Listener site regularly (e.g. weekly) if I knew that its update cycle was weekly (a bit like the old print Listener); I'd probably also appreciate being able to print out the entire publication (or at least whatever had changed since the last time I printed it - hence the idea of a weekly publication cycle) so I could read it in peace on the train. Might be worth considering other ways of delivering articles to customers for reading in offline quality time - e.g. using something like AvantGo.
Jim Rennie, UK

Welcome home. I, and many thousands like me, have missed you. As an Englishman living in America, I sorely miss the quality and style of articles in The Listener, to which I subscribed for so many years while living in England. Long may you live again.
Peter Dennis, California

I am delighted to see The Listener return after so long in the grave. Long may it continue to haunt the WWW. If one misses the rustle of the page, then print out what you need. Please keep it going.
SM Shmith, Australia

What a good idea! Please, please make this a regular feature. I would be pleased if Peter Fiddick could stay on as a columnist - he always used to make me laugh when he reviewed the newspapers when I lived in England. Best of Luck!
K.B., Hungary

I very much hope this becomes a regular feature. The discontinuation of the Listener was a major tragedy, if an inevitable one. This will provide a most acceptable alternative.
Francis Gardom

Excellent. more please.
Mark Priestley, UK

Please make this a regular feature
David Conway, Belgium

A table of contents would be nice, also a means of printing it out to read in comfort!
Bryan Simmons, England

Good to have it back, though I would prefer to see more purely on radio. TV gets massive coverage everywhere. I hope the online version will become permenant.
Tony Woolrich

Outstanding. I have bookmarked the site and have every intention of returning regularly. Best of luck.
TL Smith, UK

What a delight finding The Listener again after all those years. Well done, and please keep it up.
C Hawtrey, Abdingdon

I was enormously saddened when The Listener folded almost ten years ago - it was without question my favourite magazine. I'd been reading it weekly for 20 years and bought and enjoyed stacks of back issues whenever I found them. And I'm no old fart either - I was in my teens when I began reading it regularly. It was - and is - a fine magazine for anyone interested in the arts, history, society, current affairs - well, for anyone with a functioning brain, really! This electronic version is almost as good as ever. Is there NO chance that it can be made to last? Publishing on the web costs a tiny fraction of print production - I'd gladly subscribe if that would help. Thanks and best wishes to all involved. This is a wonderful thing.
Gregory, Wales

The BBC was nuts to kill The Listener off when it did. It played a valuable part in bolstering the much-vaunted "unique role" of the BBC in British cultural life. Anything that helps restore that is welcome. This trial is well up to the standards of the original. I only hope it is not too long before it becomes a regularly-published journal again. Would it be technically possible for the Listener to be made available in a downloadable format? I would love to be able to browse it on my laptop on the train, but the modem cable doesn't reach that far...
Philip Striplin

Fantastic to read the Listener again! And very well put together in its electronic format. I especially liked the articles by Fi Glover, Mark Radcliffe Re:actions and Geoff Ryman. Well done to everybody in production and contribution. Please don't make this a one off! Best regards
Francis Pullen

Good luck, I wish the magazine all the best. Quality on the internet is almost unheard of. I'll be surprised if it isn't a great success.
M Carrodus, Hong Kong

Great content, it's interesting seeing a longer and different style of article from the faces & voices you recognise from the BBC. Could this become more than a one-off?
Gareth Klose, UK

Marvellous! Absolutely wonderful. The Listener should never have been ended in the first place. I warmly welcome this revival. It has a place in the intellectual debate alongside The Economist, The Spectator and the Sunday Times. Please make this a regular!
Steve Myers, editor, page1news.com

So nice to have you back!
M Hadlow, Jordan

I used to buy the magazine regularly - and still would. An on-line mag is OK but cannot be read on the train or in bed, even with my Macintosh!
Andy Barton, UK

Whoever decided to stop the Listener in '91 must have the foresight of a toad. Nothing on the market today comes near it.
D Kirrane, Belgium


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