An online station this week, in celebration of National Radio Day in the US.

And it’s one of the simplest, strangely compelling, and beautifully random stations you’ll ever hear.

Listened In is 2ZY’s air-check blog. Every week, we listen to a random 20 minute sample of a station or programme in the news.

Youarelistening.to takes you to a cleanly-designed page where ambient music tracks from Soundcloud are mixed with live police feeds from the American city of your choice. LA is the default, but cities offered include New York, Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco and Portland.

The site also identifies the specific police feed. This one is ‘LAPD Citywide Dispatch and Hotshots/Code 3’.

It’s impossible to fully transcribe, as incidents come and go, spoken of in the language of the cop. This is the soundtrack to the city’s dark underbelly, a sense of eavesdropping on a charged conversation. But alongside the music, it’s strangely chilled and relaxing to listen-in on. I’ve tried to capture key phrases that, pieced together like a jigsaw, slowly hint at the picture.

WHO  Presenterless, unless you count the anonymous army of LA’s finest.

WHAT  youarelistening.to – Los Angeles feed.

WHEN  21 August 2012

2055  L’amante/If Only Sunrise Could Arrive.

Code 3 on incident 544.

Desciptions of various suspects. A domestic dispute.

Street names: Eldorado, Van Nuys.

Vehicle taken.

Latino male carrying a tan backpack.

Code 6.

Control? What time did my call come out?

More suspects, in a hotel lobby and going into the subway.

6 … 14.

2100 Mangkind/Seasonal Rotations Remix

Specify your location.

ETA for the P Unit?

Switch to channel 22.

Have the possible suspect in custody.

2Z21 at the Oasis Hotel

1930 West 1st Street standing at Gray Donuts

Male, 63, White/Grey suffering mental illness

There’s a description of a heavily pregnant woman who’s taken an unknown number of pills.

2104 Gentleforce/Naoshima

White male, 54 suffering from liver failure and disorientation.

A new voice asks, “Conscious and breathing?”.

Charles. Paul. Laura. 74.

Possible ADW suspect.

Can I get a suspect description for the ADW suspect?

4 – 63.

Code 6 at that location.

2110 Music for Seasonal Allergy Relief Pt 1

Beeps.

Suspect 555 last seen running towards park at Hodale 225.

Black jacket, hood, additional black jacket carrying a rifle.

22 responding after short delay.

Suspect in custody.

Shoplift Suspect. 8801 Western Avenue Superior Market

Suspect on corner of 7th and Maple in front of burger stand. Unit walking over.

Units at location please respond. Suspect becoming violent.

SUMMARY

The simplest ideas are the best. It may not look very compelling from the transcription, but you should listen to Youarelisteningto – especially if you’re a Yankophile, or if you have any interest in storytelling.
Here in 20 minutes, there’s crime (obviously), descriptions of sinister individuals at subway tunnels and donut stands. But there’s also everyday human drama like the pregnant suicide attempt, or the liver failure guy. And victories like ‘Suspect in Custody’. All relayed with a professional detachment, expressionless.
There’s a brevity to the language, and it takes a while to get into the speech patterns, code, and vernacular. It’s bit like when you first watch The Wire. But make that investment, and this station rewards you with a remarkable insight into what happens under the stones of a city.

 

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to radiotoday.co.uk/eradio

 

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