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Radio Head: Up and Down the Dial of British Radio [Paperback]

John Osborne
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010
John Osborne has long been a fan of radio - from late night sessions of John Peel to Test Match Special at dawn, he has always enjoyed tuning in to the riches of our best broadcasts. When his dull temporary job became drearier than ever, John decided to remain attached to his headphones all day to listen to some of Britain's more unknown stations as well as revisiting the mainstream to fully experience the breadth of our radio output. The result is a funny, disarming ride through aspects of Britain that are uplifting, informative and sometimes plain bizarre. Throughout his month of intensive radio listening, John flits through talk radio, sports shows, dips into the mainstream and the minority, exalts in specialist music shows, comedy and local radio before expanding his mind with an experimental arts channel. It seems there is something for everyone at the turn of a dial, whether that is the ranting of the permanently enraged, the gentle tinkle of a string quartet, West Indian stomp or the sound of frozen peas being thrown around Elephant and Castle underground station. John also gets under the skin of the radio business by interviewing presenters such as Mark Radcliffe and Nicholas Parsons as well as industry insiders. John's daily life is directly affected by his radio habit as he finds himself organising a poker night during exposure to The Jazz, and Zane Lowe's energy on Radio One goads him into cooking his stir fry at the same speed as Morecambe and Wise prepared their breakfast. Finally, John decides to turn his life around and radio becomes his saviour.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847392547
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847392541
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 413,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Osborne is a writer based in Norwich. His first book 'Radio Head' was broadcast as Radio 4's Book of the Week and described as 'captivating' by The Guardian and 'funny, perceptive and charming' by The Daily Telegraph. His second book, 'The Newsagent's Window' was published by Simon&Schuster in 2010.

He has been performing writing and performing poetry since 2006, and is a regular at festivals, including Glastonbury, Latitude, Camp Bestival and the Edinburgh Fringe.He is a member of poetry collective Aisle16, who run Homework, a monthly 'literary cabaret' night at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club.

Product Description

About the Author

John Osborne graduated from the University of East Anglia in 2004. He has taught English in Austria and Germany, and has had poetry published in the Guardian and the Spectator. Radio Head is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radio Head 26 April 2010
Hugely enjoyable, especially if you listen to a fair bit of radio.

The author chooses a different radio station each day and writes down his thoughts about the presenters, the discussions and the music played.

He does much of this from while supposedly going about his mind-numbing daily job (data-inputting), and also describes his crush on Poppy, a woman working on the other side of the office.

There are also some interviews with people involved in radio (Mark Radcliffe, Nicholas Parsons, etc.), which provide welcome interludes and some useful context.

It's gentle, funny and oddly compelling stuff. Pretty good idea for a book, too. Has anyone else done this before?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radio Live Transmission! 29 Oct 2010
By Andrew
I found Radio Head entertaining, funny and original. I am pretty sure the author didn't intend to produce a serious profile of radio (which can probably be found elsewhere) and indeed his journey combines fact with humour and works very well. Contrary to an other review(s) I feel that the commentary on the hum drum of everyday life and work and affections for his colleague "Poppy" adds a lot more to the book and the interviews are factual and relevant. The choice of stations feels appropriate as it covers a broad range from national institutions such as Radio 4 to the cringesome commercial stations with there idiosyncratic OTT DJ's. In addition to profiling radio programmes the author also provides interesting diversions such the history Radio 4's "Just a Minute". I like John Osbornes style of writing an enjoyed this book very much, I'm now looking forward to reading The Newsagent's Window. Long live radio!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radio Head. 29 Mar 2013
This was a diverting, entertaining and quick read, based on the author`s simple idea of listening to a different UK radio channel each day and recording his thoughts about the experience.

Osborne is a genial, humorous commentator, intertwining the narrative of his listening project with the daily aspects of his life - his rather mundane job, his co-workers and his personal aspirations - as he gets involved with local radio and the research interviews that would eventually become part of the book. Much of the time he lets transcribed excerpts from the programmes he listens to do the talking, followed by his reactions to them - far more interesting than it sounds and quite an effective idea.

"Radio Head" is unlikely to change your world to any extent, but Osborne's enthusiasm and genuine love of radio make this a far more rewarding read than it might appear on first consideration.
A gently absorbing book, worth picking up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a great concept... 2 Mar 2014
By Nick
...and how well written. Really loved this book but loved his others even more (so I am going to take extra time to add similar compliments for these books). My first positive feedback on Amazon, having only left frustrated comments until now for wasting my time and money. Loved this
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4.0 out of 5 stars Radio Head 17 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was bought as a Christmas present for my brother-in-law. I hope he enjoyed it.
I had looked at several books with a similar theme but this one seemed the best written, witty & interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read by a great writer 2 Nov 2012
Fun, well written read. Also saw his John Peels Shed show; check it out; another great piece of work from John Osbourne
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read! 13 Aug 2012
By Mel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is such a good book and a great insight into the world of radio for those who aren't familiar with it. It's also nice for those who are familiar with it as you get a different opinion on some of your favourite and not so favourite DJs and stations!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly readable and informative 29 Mar 2011
At first glance, you wouldn't think this would be a particularly interesting read, given it covers different radio stations (along with the ongoing joys of life as a data entry temp). Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the book and read it cover to cover - it's well written, engaging and, more to the point, has re-engaged me in radio (we're listening to an online station tonight). I'd highly recommend.
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