History is being made in Egypt. But it’s business as usual on Cairo’s ex-pat/English hits station Nile FM.

WHO  Mark and Sally

WHAT  Nile FM

WHEN  Wednesday 10 July 2013

Listened In is 2ZY’s weekly air-check blog. Every week we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

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I Gotta Feeling/Manny Lopez

ID: New Music (echo) Number one for New Music. 104.2 Nile FM

The Way it Used to Be/Mike Posner

Mark back announces. Hits the traffic ID.

Traffic. Which comes with a Ramadan greeting at the top. But with not a lot of traffic. A ‘usual trouble spots, call us if you know different’ kind of bulletin.

ID: The Morning Show Lie Detector.

“It’s Sally this morning, on the Lie Detector.” Sally’s the one we heard on the traffic.

And this is actually Call my Bluff. But without the production values.

Sally reads three ‘facts’. One isn’t true.

Laughing when tickled is a panic response.

There is a second brain in your gut.

The heart of a blue whale is very small in comparison to its size.

They riff around the facts a bit. “Are you ticklish, Mark,” asks Sally. “I am!” Gales of laughter all round. “It’s the biggest animal in the world, isn’t it?” “Something like that,” replies Sally. David Attenborough has nothing to worry about. “Its heart is the size of a mini fridge.”

Sally is American and speaks far too quickly, which means she trips and giggles about it a lot. Mark sounds like a DJ. He actually said “There You Go,” at one point. Text/Facebook solicit to take part

ID: It’s another Nile FM Ramadan request.

“Radwa says today is my 6th anniversary. Please play Cheryl Cole’s Parachute for my beautiful husband.”

Parachute/Cheryl Cole

ID: Are You Ready? 104.2 Nile FM.

Everything Has Changed/Taylor Swift

Sally back announces. She trips over the word changed, and they riff on Bowie. Mark cues her almost imperceptibly; “Are you gonna say something about Ed Sheeran?” “Yeah, a friend ran into him in a  supermarket in the UK and got her picture taken with him. He’s like a really nice person.” “It’s the price of fame,” suggests Mark, “and going out to the supermarkets.”

Sally reads the facts again. Mark reads texts. He thinks the blue whale would need a large heart. He’s right. The heart of a blue whale is actually 2000 lbs and only beats once every ten seconds. It’s the size of a sports car. Mark “likes marine wildlife. Cos they’re fascinating things.” Throws forward to U2.

TRAIL: There’s a new time for the big drive home this Ramadan.

ID: The hit music starts now with Mark and Sally. 104.2 Nile FM.

Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own/U2

SUMMARY

The country you’re broadcasting to is in turmoil. But if you’re “#1 for Hit Music!,” you don’t even reference it (in a twenty minute listen).

(And actually, even when the (clearly recorded) news – sorry, “The Buzz” came on at 0900 – it had showbiz, tennis, sport, exchange rates, an and finally about a wooly mammoth, and weather. “I’m Sally and that’s today’s Buzz.” OK, so “Egypt’s Army warns of disruption after Morsi deposed” might be a bit of a, well, buzz killer, but you’d think they’d have mentioned it somewhere.)

The imaging has once again beamed in from 1992 or thereabouts. “Are You Ready?” Am I ready for what, exactly? “The hit music starts now!” So what have I been listening to for the last quarter hour?

The Ramadan references are the only clue that we’re in Cairo and not Carlisle. And nothing topical in the listen. And re-heating Call My Bluff? No actual traffic news?

They’re warm enough together, I guess, and if this is your only fix of Western hit songs, it’s clearly filling a need. But I learnt way too much about the respiratory system of a blue whale – and way too little about how it felt to be in Egypt this morning.

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