What is something from the early 2000’s that no longer exists?
Ugh, being a 2000’s kid, I’d say a lot of cool things. But one I definitely want to focus on in this post because I’m actually still grieving it is a really cool Polish radio station called Polskie Radio BIS. BIS was an acronym for Bardzo Inna Stacja (Very Different Station).
As a child, especially a little child like toddler to early primary school or thereabouts, I was quite into all things radio. This, for some weird reason, is a very common theme for blind people, at least I know many who had it similar as children or still do. I was interested in many different aspects of radio and I had a period where I myself wanted to work in a radio as well. I was told by someone that when there is a storm, it often brings radio stations with itself to places where they’d otherwise never be possible to hear, and so I always liked to scan the radio for any stations that would be new to me or that i rarely heard. I also loved to do that at night, particularly in some specific places like when I occasionally slept in my grandparents’ house, because I noticed that it happened at their place regularlythat new stations appeared at night, perhaps not from very far away, but far enough that they weren’t something you could normally hear from our location. Any such finds were really exciting for me. I also liked to look out for radio stations unfamiliar to me whenever I was travelling somewhere further. Back then, we lived in the countryside, on a sort of hill, and when you went upstairs and had a good radio, you could catch radio stations from Sweden, or at least one for sure. I once found it accidentally and they were speaking all the time and i got absolutely mesmerised with the language and synaesthetic experiences that I was getting from it and I was wondering what language it could be, and later when I showed it to my parents they said maybe Swedish, or maybe Danish or something like that. I liked to think it was Swedish, because I was in love with The Six Bullerby Children and from there got an idea that Sweden is some sort of an idyllic place where people play all the time. I was then lucky to find it on a regular basis and they were ALWAYS talking on there, which makes me think it was probably a public radio station called P1, and I had lots of pleasure just listening to the language, not understanding a single word. 😀
But, let’s go back to that Radio BIS. It was a public radio station, supposed to be nation-wide in theory but in practice you could hardly if at all catch it in many areas, because it seemed to have a lot fewer frequencies than other public national radio stations. Already when i was its loyal listener, the amount of its frequencies was lessened even further. I vaguely remember that at some point it was sharing its frequencies with Polish Radio Programme 2, so each station had a limited time during the day. I believe it started out as some sort of station for scouts, and then evolved into an educational medium with a lot of popular science programmes for young people, programmes about sport, or specifically directed at young children. Unfortunately, although I was already a part of the world at the end of this period in the history od Radio BIS and I remember occasionally hearing it then, I was very little and so didn’t get to thoroughly experience that, and there’s very little old materials from that time that can be found online, well practically none, except for a few jingles and a promotional spot. I really regret I didn’t get to listen to Radio BIS more at that time. However, even back then, I still remember exhibiting a little weird interest in it. Weird because I didn’t really get to listen to it often, but i liked it very much. I think it started out because Radio BIS was quite hard to reach in our location, you could only catch it, with a lot of background noise and distortion, in the kitchen, if you had a radio with a good antenna. So I think that sort of unusual factor made me interested in the station in the first place, as well as its name. I really liked the word bis and thought it sounded very cute. I remember that my Dad expanded the antenna in our kitchen radio somehow so that it could catch Radio BIS, and I was super happy about it, but it only worked reliably for a little while from what I can recall. When I was in nursery, I remember that one weekend my parents came to visit me, and we went to the zoo. When we came back, it turned out that meanwhile, our nursery was visited by Polish Radio, and I was told that there were some people from Radio BIS as well and I was disconsolate. Everyone in the nursery, including myself, even though I wasn’t present at that meeting with Polish Radio, got four candies, which I believe were in different flavours and each had one of the four public stations’ name on its wrapper. I let Olek eat all three candies, but I left the BIS one for myself. I was very curious how it tasted, but I felt like it would be a shame to eat it, so I never did it. Like, NEVER. Years and years ago, after I was out of that blind school, my Mum and me found that BIS candy in one of the boxes with my things and Mum said the candy still looked normal though of course was unlikely to be edible anymore. We threw the candy away, but I still have that wrapper and it says “Polish Radio BIS” on it.
My memories of Radio BIS at that time make an impression of a very calm-sounding radio station. I have shared this on my blog multiple times that one of the symptoms of the phenomenon I experience that I call sensory anxiety or sound anxiety is the like, is that often the sound that freak me out, or especially did when I was a kid, were various jingles, or commercials or the like, even though they’re not objectively scary at all, but I feel like they’re seething with aggression specifically towards me, it’s a very weird feeling. Well, with Radio Bis, I really liked their calm and cheerful jingles from that time, especially this one. So different from most Polish late 90’s-early 2000’s overdone jingles. I remember one more that was slower and more flowing kind of and I liked that one particularly much, but I’ve never found it anywhere. Then, in 2004, the Polish Radio peeps had some sudden awakening that made them realise that Radio BIS has a very small audience compared with other Polish Radio stations, and rather than give them more frequencies, they decided to change the format, and after a couple years, like I said earlier, reduce the amount of their frequencies even further. That was when the name BIS started to work as an acronym for Very Different Station. It was still a medium directed at young people, but less educational, and more music-oriented. You could hear there all sorts of weird and normal music from genres like hip-hop, alternative rock, reggae, various kinds and shades of electronic music, even a bit of folk. For the most part, stuff that you would not hear in other radio stations, at least not here. And that was about the time when I started to listen to it. I guess I got some new radio and I remember it was summer and I was lying on the lawn with it and listening to a station where there was really weird music playing and the whole thing sounded really cool, and I was wondering what it was, until they enlightened me and said it was “BIS! BIS! BIS! Very Different Station”. As I said, I always liked Radio BIS, but it was then that I figured that I really have to start to listen to it more regularly, because there were too many times when I came across some cool-sounding radio station just to realise that, surprise, it’s Radio BIS! Again, I got a very long antenna and it turned out more or less possible to catch it in my room. With ever-present humming in the background, but not too bad if you kept the radio in a certain position. The educational content, however, was not totally forsaken, and there were still programmes like my beloved BIS-Up from Monday to Friday, from 1 PM to 4 PM if I remember correctly, where there was a lot about culture of various countries, thought-provoking questions like what does gingerbread have to do with a windmill and, every hour, there was a language lesson, for English, German and Russian. But there was generally a whole lot of linguistic type content in BIS-up from what I can recall now. There were also some cool programmes on weekend mornings called “Rusz Głową” (literally Move Your head, but it’s a sort of expression that actually means something like think, use your brain etc.) which were also quite brain-stimulating. I regret I wasn’t into folk back then and actually disliked it thinking it was “granny music”, but it was thanks to Radio BIS that I started to be into “different” music in general and I started to like reggae, especially Polish reggae, a lot thanks to them, with my favourite band being Vavamuffin. I now don’t listen to reggae so much and it doesn’t really resonate with me as much as it did back then, but I still sometimes listen to it when I’m in the mood and I have good memories with it. I also remember loads of weird songs from Radio BIS with absolutely weird, nonsensical lyrics which I think could easily be classified as experimental music or something like that and I loved it. Late in the evenings, or at nights if you prefer, there was a programme called “Zostaw Wiadomość” (Leave a Message), with a lot of talking, often about some very serious things, usually something more or less to do with psychology, and I really liked it too and often stayed up late to listen to it, and it really made my fascination with all things people and psychology grow. I really fell in love with Radio BIS, and the word Bis entered into my own vocabulary as part of many different neologisms, phrases and expressions. Like the word bis alone means either any child, or someone who is very cool and likeable, depending on a context. Then in 2007 I had my Achilles tendons surgery, after which I had to spent six weeks in casts and effectively was in bed most of the time and was bored to death, and then had a few more months of recovery, and Radio BIS was my constant companion at the time, keeping me more or less sane. I even went as far as calling them several times at that time and I really enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long that I got to enjoy Radio BIS. Apparently, there was a lot going on in there on a political level that the new government didn’t like. It was the PiS (Law and Justice) party, the one that currently makes up the majority of our government, who was also in power in an alliance with several other parties in 2007. When you consider my fanatic love for Radio BIS, it’s quite a funny thing that I am actually a PiS voter now, because, while I think they do a LOT of things wrong nonw and I still hold a grudge towards them for what they did to Radio BIS, I believe that currently there is no more viable option in this country and PiS is the lessest of all the evils. 😀 Anyway, I honestly don’t remember much that would be politically charged in Radio BIS when I was listening to it, but I was only about 10 or younger then and was simply unaware of many things, even when Radio BIS was about to fall apart I don’t think I quite understood what exactly were the actual reasons behind it, I just thought it’s simply planned to change into another radio station and didn’t think why that could be so. However when I digged into it a bit more years later I realised that there clearly was something odd going on in Radio BIs, particularly it seems that it went wild late at night sometimes, and a lot of people whom I recognise as working back then in BIS now work in media that are strongly left-wing. And, overall, it’s good that it was addressed. I think, whether it’s left-wing or right-wing opinions, Radio BIS would be better off with no sociopolitical content at all, its mission was not being a political opinion-forming medium, we already have enough of these. Still, I think there could be a much better way of dealing with this than destroying the whole station, I think. Why not just get rid of specific people? But yeah, one of the problems I have with PiS is that it doesn’t really seem to value culture very much. So, one day in 2008, there was some sort of conference or however I should call it where it was said that Polish Radio BIS would soon change into Polish Radio Euro, which will still be directed towards young people, but more sport-oriented. Part of me was curious what it would be like and interested in seeing the whole change, but for the most part, I was furious. Polish Radio people were saying that it wouldn’t really change all that much, just that there would be more sport content (and of course no unwanted political and world-view ideas), and my family were comforting me that it’s surely going to be the same, they’re just making a lot of fuss so that it looks like they’re doing something, but i knew that it was inevitably going to change, and it did. Yes, there were still a lot of the same people, some of the same programmes, music was rather similar, but as time went by, it was slowly but clearly losing that “different” BIS feel. I still listened to them regularly but the sports content was overwhelming, and it was less and less frequent that I’d find some new music that I would really love. Old BIS people, even those who I highly doubt expressed any political views at all publicly, kept disappearing, even if just to another place in Polish Radio, and new people kept coming, and I listened to it less and less. Radio Euro didn’t live for very long, as soon they went back to their original name, before BIS, that is, Polish Radio Programme 4 and that’s what it’s still known as. The sports content was reduced again in favour of music content, but the whole feel of the station was kind of different compared to the old BIS. I tried to get myself back into it and listen to it, but, while their playlist is certainly a bit more different than most Polish radio stations, it tends to be awfully repetitive. Also, now, rather than being generally youth-oriented, so that you could happily listen to it whether you were a child like I was, or a teenager, or a young adult, now it’s quite clearly directed towards university students or at least that’s a feeling I always get whenever I listen to them. My Mum also kind of liked BIS, and later on tried to get herself into listening to Radio 4, and she too said that BIS was definitely young, but even older people could listen to it with no problem, whereas Radio 4 is rather annoying for her as someonenot in her twenties. TO me, it’s like a cross of a commercial mainstream-y radio station in the way they generally present themselves, and an academic radio station, because of some of the more niche music and the student type content. Also, I don’t really follow them regularly but they either had or still do have a liner that says something like Radio With Vision, and you can actually watch some of their programmes on their website. I totally don’t get the radiovision idea and what the point of that is.
So yeah, I feel sad for BIS and that it died. I have some archival materials, but there isn’t much that I could find.
So, how about you? What’s such a thing from early 2000’s for you? 🙂