Question of the day.

   What is something from the early 2000’s that no longer exists? 

   My answer: 

   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? 🙂 

Question of the day (13th September).

Hi people! 🙂

What are you listening to?

My answer:

Currently nothing really. But as for what I’ve been listening to a lot lately and have been listening to a lot today as well, it’s a new radio station I’ve discovered a few weeks ago thanks to my iPhone and the TuneIn Radio app. On my computer I use Radio Sure and I thought that I already knew of all the Welsh language radio stations that exist out there, but turns out that there was one that was not on Radio Sure, but is on TuneIn Radio, that I had no idea about, and I’m glad I finally learned about its existence as, similarly to Cymru FM and BBC Radio Cymru, I’ve already made some interesting music discoveries thanks to it. It’s called Blas Folk Radio Cymru, and, just like its name suggests, it plays folk music and it’s generally very traditional folk music, no folk rock, folk pop and other such fancy stuff. As is usually the case with radio stations, I don’t necessarily like all the music that they play, but there seems to be a whole lot of harp music and generally a lot of instrumental music. And so because even though I have my iPhone I still like to listen to my favourite stations during the day on the computer, and am not going to use TuneIn on the computer, I decided to add |Blas Folk Radio Cymru to the Radio Sure’s database and it is in it now. So yeah, there have been and probably are still going to be some nice Welsh music discoveries for me.

How about you? 🙂

 

Question of the day (3rd April).

Hey people! 🙂

Do you like to buy physical copies of CDs or download the digital version? Or do you only download the singles? (or do you just listen to the radio or something?)

My answer:

As I wrote in my answer to an earlier question of the day, I don’t have a CD player right now and I don’t listen to CD’s anymore. I have two main ways of listening to music these days. First I use streaming services – for me it’s Spotify because I find it the most accessible, most of all I like that they have an accessible desktop app, and it’s Swedish, haha. – I have a bit of a love-hate attitude and relationship with Spotify and streaming services in general. I love them because they offer a comfortable, easy and relatively cheap (or even free if you like even lower sound quality and enjoy the ads) access to loads of music and if you need it, and have a lot of devices, you can listen to it pretty much anywhere you are, and stuff like family subscription plans are helpful, in our house three people have Spotify and it’s handy to be on a family plan. Also I really like that you can discover a lot of other music which is very handy as well if you are picky and won’t fall in love with every other song playing on the radio. 😉 I hate it for the low sound quality, even though I understand that it’s not possible to be higher since millions of people are listening to music at the same time and Spotify doesn’t want to be sluggish. I hate it because, in practice, it only supports those artists and music labels who are already famous and popular. I mean, I’ve discovered a lot of great, barely known, niche artists from niche genres thanks to Spotify and I’m very happy about it, the list includes my last faza/music crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys and a lot of other great people, but from the moment you open Spotify and look through their browse tab, their own ready-made playlists, features like those regional filters for specific countries that they have or however they call them, you’ll be flooded by loads of mainstream music that you’d have easy access too otherwise as well and that you most likely already know either by name or have heard their songs, or both, or if yoou haven’t heard of them they’ll soon go viral anyway and every radio station will be playing them, or if that miraculously will not happen for this or that reason, they still make very easily digestible music and very much in line with what is currently most popular thanks to the media. And, okay, there is some good mainstream music out there, there are artists who are famous for a reason and are really talented, but it’s sad that artists who are lesser known, also those who do not want to go viral or whose music simply isn’t fit for that despite being really great and good quality, or who are independent and self-producing or something, and who could potentially make much more money on the music and be noticed by more people, are so little promoted by streamers and it’s all intentional and purposeful action, despite that with the possibilities that those streamers have, they could really transform the music industry, the way people listen to music, make people more conscious, more selective, and show them some good music, promote it so that those who don’t know much more beyond the charts and what has been popular throughout the last couple of years/decades can find something more that they would like but don’t know that they would like, because they don’t know it exists and where/how to look for it, and what they would actually be into. Of course if you are interested and determined and want to, you’ll find such underappreciated artists on Spotify and great music that they do not feature on their own playlists, but you really have to be interested yourself and most people just want to listen to something, are not interested in digging too much and have no time for that which is absolutely understandable, so they’d have to get it shoved in their faces to be able to notice that there is also other music and that it exists. It’s a shame that so many people just listen to what is forced into their ears by radio stations or other such and that those “trend setters” decide for them what they are supposed to like, instead of that people could actually choose what to listen to on their own, and decide on their own what is their favourite kind of music. It feels like brainwashing to me and makes me think that one can’t really be a self-aware person when they don’t know what music they truly like, but just takes what’s lying nearest to them. I don’t blame the individuals for that though because that’s how things have been for ages and we are used to listening to music this way. I also hate that those less popular artists aren’t paid enough as a result, I mean not as much as they would be paid if someone bought their album, and I feel it’s not fair whatsoever, but as my Mum rightly says the words justice and fair only exist in the dictionary. 😀 Not to mention that some independent artists are not on Spotify whatsoever despite making lots of great music, for various reasons.

The cons are quite heavy, and I guess there are more of them, but anyway, as I said, Spotify is my main way of listening to music despite that, and probably will be for a while yet, because it’s very accessible and easy, and sometimes the easy option is the only practically possible one. And I listen to a lot of music on Spotify these days, or mostly nights actually. Spotify is my main base for discovering new music and being up to date with my most favourite artists that I want to be up to date with, and music from Spotify serves me as a background noise when doing stuff on the computer during the day, unless I happen to be listening to the radio but I’ll write about that later. I also listen to music from YouTube sometimes but that’s not very often, only when there’s something I like that’s not on Spotify, usually something that I happened to discover years ago back when I was using Last.fm as my main source of discoveries and taste-shaping so to say.

As I said though, it really bothers me what Spotify is doing to the lesser known artists, for example those singing in extincting languages. My other way of listening to music is on my PlexTalk Linio Pocket. PlexTalk is a specialised device for the blind which is small, and thus portable, fitting into a pocket, as you can guess, and it can read books – audiobooks, texts – play podcasts, radio from Internet, play any audiofiles in most formats, so music as well, it can also work as a recorder and has a couple other features like a calendar, alarm, etc. It uses SD memory cards so all my actual music that I have for myself is on SD cards. If I like and respect an artist and their music particularly much, I’ll buy their album, or if I don’t like a whole album I’ll buy some single songs in a digital format. It also is very handy to have this kind of music collection because I take my PlexTalk everywhere with me so I can have my own, bought music there with me regardless of whether there is Internet connectioon or not, I can listen to my PlexTalk in my bed, in the car, etc. I can play the music from some other device if I don’t want to listen to it from PlexTalk’s small speaker or headphones but for example my computer speakers which have much better quality. And I know that I’ll always have this music and not just as long as the artist will be willing to cooperate with Spotify. Well except for things like if I lose or break a card or format it by accident, haha.

Also I do listen to the radio, but that’s rarely for the music. I was hugely into radio as a kid, I mean more like in theory, what it’s like to work in there, changes in specific radio stations over time, lots of such details, that was very interesting to me, and I still do find it interesting but not to such a geeky degree, and I listen much less to the radio right now. First of all I hardly listen to Polish radio stations now, if I do, it is because some programme really interests me. Or because it is playing in the background – in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in the loo (we have a radio in the loo which turns on and off with the lights and it scares some people or at least surprises them very much when they visit for the first time and go to the loo), I like to switch it on if I’m alone somewhere if I don’t have my Plextalk with me there so that my sensory/silence anxiety is more manageable. – My school friend used to laugh at me that I am such a snob that I only listen to mainstream music and get a chance to catch up with what’s popular and form my opinion when I’m sitting on the toilet, lol, but that’s not the case. Well, not always. 😀 Otherwise, if I listen to the radio, it’s usually some public radio from another country, or in any case a radiostation where they talk a lot so it can boost my language skills. Like today I’m listening to Sveriges Radio p4 Stockholm all day. They do play a lot of music, very normal music, but I mostly just care about the language. Sometimes I like to make radio discoveries though from foreign radio stations. It was very hard for me, for example, to find Welsh language music on Spotify at the beginning of my Welsh language journey. I mean, there are playlists made by people which were helpful but when I wanted to go beyond that and see what’s more, I found it difficult, especially that Spotify’s algorithms picked up very late on my Welsh language mania and I couldn’t count on them that they would give me some further recommendations. BBC Radio Cymru was extremely helpful in that, as was Cymru FM, the latter plays almost exclusively music, with barely any talking ever in between, almost exclusively in Welsh (with some occasional, almost like accidental, Cornish or Breton songs) in a variety of genres but mostly pop, rock, folk and alternative/indie stuff, I’d say. Also I love learning about how different are music trends in different countries, no matter if I’m gonna like them or not, I like to see for example what Swedish songs are currently popular in Sweden, or even English ones that are either by Swedish artists or simply didn’t make their way to Poland to such a degree for some reason. I actually end up liking a lot of foreign pop or hits or stuff, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Finnish pop in the radio stations. So I’m not such a big snob, after all. I myself don’t think I am at all, because seriously I do like a lot of “normal” stuff, but even Zofijka thinks I’m snobbish.

So, that’s about it, for me. How about you? 🙂

Song of the day (29th September) – Mari Boine – “Alla Hearrá guhkkin Osllos” (Hey, Mr. Almighty Down There In Oslo).

Here’s another Mari Boine’s song. I originally wanted to share it with you on one of the future Sami National Days (February 6), but I might as well do it now ’cause why not. This is a very interesting song for someone like me who is passionate about endangered languages and rights of the speakers of such languages, media in endangered languages and all that. I have no English translation for you, and I can only clearly understand one word in the Sami lyrics – “giella” which means language. – But, hey, not all is lost! There is a part in Norwegian in the lyrics, and actually, that Norwegian bits and pieces are of very deep historical and personal value for me, because that was the very first thing I was able to understand in Norwegian. I don’t speak Norwegian, mind you, but of course Swedish and Norwegian are close enough to be very much mutually intelligible. I used to be frustrated because I could never understand more than a word, or a small string of words in Norwegian, and that if I was lucky, I didn’t even understand svorsk too well (svenska – Swedish – +norsk – Norwegian – =svorsk). I still often don’t understand Norwegian too well but am often able to at least figure out the context. And that Mari Boine’s song was the first ever spoken – or sung, but I don’t think that matters – word, much more than a word actually, that I understood. Not all of it but I definitely got the gist of it plus some more than a gist, I’m not sure about one line. Bibiel is so smart, yayyy for Bibiel!!! 😀 And thus, Bibiel can tell you what the song is about.

“Hey, Mr. Almighty, down there in Oslo. Do you have time to listen to us? We watch Tv evening after evening, but don’t hear anything in our own language. Hey, MR. Almighty, down there in Oslo. Do you have time to listen to us? We listen to us? We listen to the radio day efter day, but hear hardly a word in our own language. Could you give us a little bit more? Language has such a great power [or your language has such a great power, I’m not sure] (…)”. And then I only understand that they are afraid of something, I am half-guessing that that their language will disappear. If there are some Norwegian peeps out there (or even better Sami!) I’d appreciate any corrections. I’m assuming that the Sami lyrics are mostly the same.

The song was released on Mari Boine’s 1986 album, originally, and, while I don’t know what was the situations with the Sami media back then, and I have no idea if they have their own TV right now, I do know that nowadays, there is a public radiostation called NRK Samiradio in Norway. I’m not well acquainted with it and I don’t know if it is sufficient for the Norwegian Sami community’s needs, but I’d think the situation has improved since the 80’s. There is also SR Sápmi to which I listen a lot, and some Finnish Sami radiostation as well. I also have no idea who the Mr. Almighty exactly is, as I don’t have a broader background context about the song.

Oh, and I forgot to mention one more interesting thing about Mari in my previous Mari Boine post. She is a paternal relative of Kevin Boine, whose song “Komm Till Finnmark” I featured on National Sami Day this year. Apart from the joiking, and even despite Mari’s huge musical versatility, the difference between their styles is vast and almost startling hahaha!