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Next week's radio: from Tweet Of The Day to The First Time 3.0 out of 5 based on 1 votes.

Tweet Of The Day | The Gatsby Factor | NPR's American Icons | Counterpoint | The First Time

All 256 two-minute episodes of new birdsong programme Tweet Of The Day (weekdays, 5.58am, Radio 4)will be kept online forever. This is the way all broadcasting is going, whether the programme-makers like it or not. You wonder how the above title will play 10 years from now, when the word tweet will be approximately as resonant as the word Betamax.

All access forever means you can compare The Gatsby Factor (Thursday, 11.30am, Radio 4), Sarah Churchwell's exploration of the enduring allure of Fitzgerald's novel, which appears in anticipation of Baz Luhrmann's hip-hop-inflamed movie version, with the programme Kurt Anderson made for NPR's American Icons series in 2010 and lives online (studio360.org). Neither has seen the new film. Consequently, Churchwell leads you to believe that The Great Gatsby is essentially unfilmable, because the elements of the story that the readers are meant to find worrying – wealth, showy and sinister displays of power – the camera can find no fault with. It's the same with the actors who've played Gatsby: Alan Ladd, Leonardo DiCaprio and, most problematic of all, Robert Redford. As Churchwell says, "Who leaves Robert Redford for Bruce Dern?"

With the web there's less call to have America interpreted for us all the time, which was what so much documentary-making used to spend its time doing. With a few clicks we can travel there ourselves and enjoy the bonuses. While the Radio 4 programme lasts half an hour and is sharpened to a point, the NPR show comes in at an hour long and is attractively meandering. It also has lots of beautiful American voices, particularly Scott Shepherd, an actor who has committed the entire novel to memory. Give Shepherd a line from anywhere in the book and he'll take it from there. The programme also goes looking for the real West Egg with an endearingly eccentric English teacher, has Ralph Lauren's son comparing Gatsby's story to his father's, and Jonathan Franzen analysing the impossible lightness of the book's being. I've listened to it four times already.

I often imagine Frasier's Niles Crane accessing a show like Counterpoint (Monday, 3pm, Radio 4) online from his building in Seattle. Niles would keep pace with the retired teachers who compete on the music quiz when the questions relate to Arvo Pärt and be slightly ahead of them when it came to the showtunes round, but just as likely to think Joe Brown was Billy Bragg (if only he had heard of Billy Bragg). I feel he'd approve of presenter Paul Gambaccini and would not be overly worried that he speaks like someone taking us through pre-flight safety drills.

Film director Quentin Tarantino has arguably done more to bring exotic and strange music into the mainstream than radio has over the last 30 years, which makes him a natural subject for 6Music's influences show The First Time (Sunday, 12noon, 6Music). However, it's difficult to justify playing the same amount of the Partridge Family (the first album Tarantino owned) as of Stealers Wheel's Stuck In The Middle With You, his first adventure in placing chirpy music over gory visuals in Reservoir Dogs. It's a good job that Tarantino volunteers most of his MO, because presenter Matt Everitt seems to feel that follow-up questions are a breach of etiquette. I kept internally suggesting, "In what way?" and other routine supplementaries.

David Hepworth

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source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2013/may/04/david-hepworth-radio-preview


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