A follow-up item sparked by the untimely death of Rory Morrison, is a moment for PM to reflect on the power of the human voice.

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.

WHO      Eddie Mair

WHAT    PM on BBC Radio 4

WHEN   18 June 2013

Rory Morrison, remembered by colleagues on PM this week.

Rory Morrison, remembered by colleagues on PM this week.


Professor Richard Betts is from the Met Office, and is on to talk about today’s weather summit in which meteorologists are discussing our recent bizarre weather. He’s a bit geeky, and there’s not much new information until Eddie asks a very Mairish question, which brings him to life. “It must be fun, you got a bunch of experts together, it must be quite invigorating.”

TRAIL: File on 4 on town hall sell-offs.


Jeremy Forrest Trial 2-way. Someone has left an FX mic up and it’s hard to make out what Duncan Kennedy is saying. “You know what Duncan, we’re hearing all the background noise significantly louder than you, which is disappointing. So we’ll regroup and check our technicals .. It’s twenty to six. Have you got some headlines, Luke, that would certainly help me out?,” bails Eddie, calmly.


Heads: Taliban talks/Cameron on Syria/Inflation up

Back to Duncan for a text book court 2-way on the Forrest case.


Then a brilliant running feature. “Last week on the programme, following the death of one our Radio 4 colleagues, Rory Morrison, we talked about the impact radio voices can have on listeners, and we played a montage of some of those which have been silenced in recent years.”

Montage of John Peel, Linda Smith and Ned Sherrin.

Eddie reads some interaction. One listener heard the montage, cried, then listened to her Dad’s old answerphone messages. Then there’s a powerful Skype clip of listener Rachel who still calls her dead son Jack’s voicemail to hear his voice. “Silly though it may sound, I leave a message.” Eddie teases ahead. “Rachel hasn’t called for some months and is worried the message may no longer be there. We’ll have an update in a moment.”

Then there’s a pre-rec with Linda Smith’s partner, Warren Lake. He talks with real emotion about the power of the voice after a bereavement. He goes on to explain that hearing the montage inspired him to deposit Linda’s old recordings with the University of Kent’s stand-up comedy course. “Would you mind if we played a clip to finish?,” asks Eddie politely and plays the brilliant Linda from Just a Minute.

And to finish; “Rachel called Jack’s number – and got the message, the number you have dialled is not available. Please check and try again. She will check and try again. But fears that could be it.”


Piece on Charles Saatchi/Nigella Lawson story, and police caution. “Someone who knows what it’s like to assault your partner, is Chris Avery, who was violent to his girlfriend during their 13 year relationship, but has since learnt not to be. What did he make of Charles Saatchi’s comments there?” Into a fascinating chat, not from an expert or a support group, but someone’s who been in that situation.


Great current affairs talk radio needs a few important ingredients. The ability to respond to breaking stories. The confidence not to follow every other news agenda and come up with original journalism, stories you won’t hear on anyone else’s show. Treatment and brio in choice of guests. And the indefinable point-of-difference from a presenter who adds value, catalysing the work of solid producers to create radio moments.

PM delivers all of this, in a show that seems perfectly cast around its leading man. Arch, witty, and calm – and a beautiful economy of language.

Rory Morrison was not the biggest star on Radio 4. He was one part of the glue that sticks together this random collection of programmes and makes it a radio station.

But in reflecting his passing, PM managed, in nine minutes, to philosophise on the nature of radio, follow-up on the memory of another big network name, and tell a bittersweet story about coping with bereavement. None of which, arguably, was essential in a news review of the day’s events. But that’s why PM is so special.

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