In January this year, I took part as a contestant in the Radio 4 programme The 3rd Degree, broadcast from UK universities. I was a ‘don’ and it took approximately one hour to record and was broadcast in May. These are some of the thoughts that occurred to me during and shortly after the experience of taking part:
- Talk-back: There is a speaker in front of you that can hear everything (like a auditory telescreen) and it ‘talks back’, like there is a little man inside! Our sound man even shouted ‘Let me out!’ which sounded oddly like he was a trapped borrower.
- The radio van… There is almost always a radio van, it is parked outside nearby, looks like a surveillance vehicle, and is ‘plugged into’ the building.
- So much that is visual is lost: ‘Remember it is radio, so sound is good’ was reiterated.
- We were about to begin recording when the announcement stated, ‘Welcome to The 3rd Degree coming this week from the University of Gloucestershire’ – which places the phrase this week under considerable strain; the whole series was recorded over just one week, that translates (multiplies) into six different weeks when broadcast. Plus, when it was broadcast, we were told that, we, the audience, were ‘off to the University of Chester’, which suggested to me that we were going back in time…
- 2nd, 3rd and 4th takes for jokes, that are still funny: ‘You see audience, you might think that hearing a joke for the second time isn’t funny, but you will definitely remember that it is funny if you have to hear it for a third time’.
- ‘Yes’, ‘Yes that’s right’, ‘Yes, that’s the correct answer’, ‘Is the correct answer, yes’, ‘And yes’, just some of the statements that presenters have to state multiple times, in case they are needed as inserts when the programme is edited.
- Thinking About Meaning: Psychosis involves a sense of disrupted temporality, a disruption that radio actually requires in order to work. Thought-broadcasting, ideas/delusions of reference – are also reminiscent in a way of the ‘talk-back’ function. The whole process of recording therefore demonstrates how de-naturalised programmes really are…
The programme is available from the following iPlayer link: