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Radio Head: Up and Down the Dial of British Radio Paperback – 4 Mar 2010


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Radio Head: Up and Down the Dial of British Radio + The Newsagent's Window: Adventures in a World of Second-Hand Cars and Lost Cats + Don't Need The Sunshine
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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 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 544,778 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dave Gilmour's cat on 26 April 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By Andrew on 29 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By J. Mcdonald TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
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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By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Office temp John Osborne lives about a hundred miles from London, so he has a wealth of radio stations to choose from on his digital radio. He decides to stray from his few favorite stations and explore the rest of the radio dial. He plans to listen to a different station each day for a few months, one station all day. Since he does boring data entry, he can listen while he works, removing his earbuds only on the rare occasion when something more interesting or more important comes up.

Osborne is in his twenties and most of his favorite listening is music, not surprisingly. However, his project is to be open to all kinds of stations and he manages to make nearly all of them quite interesting to read about. I suspect this has more to do with the quality of his writing rather than the quality of the radio shows.

He tries out different sorts of music, spending an entire day each with classical and jazz for a change. He listens to sports talk radio, political talk radio, the BBC Asian Network. When there's an earthquake in the area one night, a very unusual occurrence, he listens to the local station and is impressed at how smoothly they switch to reporting on the effects of the quake, while staying calm. It reminded me of when the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit when I was in San Francisco and how the first thing I did after finding that the phone lines were overloaded, was to grab the battery-operated radio and find out what was going on. No stiff upper lips on American radio, I'm afraid, nothing but rumors mixed with semi-true reports and breathless drama.

You wouldn't think that radio would be a very interesting thing to write about, or at least I wouldn't have thought so.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A really clever idea, presented in a similar way to a blog, I suppose. The author listens to a different radio station each day, and compares and contrasts the station's outputs with each other, and with the events around him. Except it's better, warmer and funnier than that.
As the background narrative progressed I found I had broadly similar opinions to the author, which naturally has had a positive effect on my opinion of his book.
I don't want to give anything away, but the author meets interesting radio people, which elevates the book from 'They played this song' to a thoughtful look into the world of broadcasting.
As with any non-fiction book I buy it because I hope to learn something new - this book was very successful in that. Informative and pleasing to read. I'm very pleased I bought this book, I've no hesitation in recommending it.
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