When the lockdown was reintroduced last week I decided I needed to take drastic action to stay sane. I quit all social media, stopped reading online news, and stopped listening to Radio Ulster. I never watched the news on TV so that was already covered. Now I only read a printed newspaper as I find its less stressful but you can keep up to date. I have also switched to listening mostly to podcasts and music.
Like a lot of people, I would have listened to Radio Ulster during the day. But I found the constant focus on Covid-19 was really starting to affect my mental health. From 6 am till 6 pm there are over 8 hours of news and debate, most of it around Covid-19. Much of it is the same content over and over again. How they fill so much airtime with the one issue is a wonder.
The simple solution, of course, is to turn the radio off. But I know for a lot of people the radio is a comfort and companion to them. I remember the late Bertie in Lisburn once saying that he switched the radio on when he got up and it stayed on all day until he went to bed. Bertie was blind and like a lot of people who are lonely or housebound, he got company from the wireless.
On Wednesday they actually extended the Nolan show till 11. People then got an hour’s break from the doom before Talkback discussed the exact same issues that Nolan had discussed two hours before.
Coming into the winter many people are really are starting to crack under the strain. You may have seen this tweet:
I am not ok. Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you.
— Edmund O'Leary (@emerald1910) October 16, 2020
The BBC seriously need to evaluate how this constant stream of negativity they are pumping out is affecting listeners. The remit of the BBC is to inform, educate and entertain. But it seems the entertain part has taken a backseat to constantly informing us over and over again like an aural waterboarding.
Maybe I am wrong: maybe the general public are loving all this news and listenership is at a record high. I would welcome an explanation from the BBC as to why there is so much focus on news output to the detriment of entertainment.
It is going to be a long winter. Could someone in Broadcasting House please give us more rays of sunshine?
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.