This week’s best radio: Joan Collins, jazz and the latest apps

Joan Collins – A Life In Lipstick on Radio 2.

Joan Collins was a graduate of the Company of Youth, the charm school set up by J Arthur Rank to ensure a ready supply of well-groomed young ladies with elocution-trained accents to make appearances, of often startling incongruity, in his postwar films. In Joan Collins – A Life In Lipstick (Wednesday, 10pm, Radio 2) the unsinkable Joan recalls her early life in showbiz, her time at Rada and her progress to becoming “the coffee bar Jezebel” in more than one Rank production. Yoko Ono, who was also born in 1933, is the guest in The First Time (Sunday, 1pm, 6 Music) where she talks to Matt Everitt about her first exposure to music and meeting John Lennon.

In Cold War: Stories From The Big Freeze (Tuesday, 1.45pm, Radio 4) a witness recalls being a young man in Hungary during the 50s. “I heard some music on the radio. I described it to somebody. He said it was jazz and I wasn’t supposed to listen to it.” There’s always a supplementary question you wish somebody asked, in this case: “How the hell did you describe it?”

I’m pleased to report that free radio apps are getting better. They’re easier to use and the best can unbundle content from programmes and schedules. CBC Radio, the app through which you can access the considerable riches of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, does this particularly well, with a strong home screen that leads with a headline rather than the style of programme. This is how I came to hear a very phlegmatic Canadian explain how he dealt with an unannounced black bear in the woods by bopping it on the nose, and also why Kendrick Lamar ended up providing the Fourth of July entertainment at the White House.

The excellent French radio station FIP also has a neat interface on its app. Click one box and you get their usual Radio Musicale Eclectique. If you feel like jazz, rock, reggae, dance or world music you touch one of the others. Both FIP and CBC have understood that an app is there to do the user’s bidding, not advance the marketing plans of the body that supplied it.

The NPR One app from National Public Radio has something to learn here.Its home page devotes too much space to trying to recommend programmes you don’t know when it should be offering easier access to programmes you do, like the excellent Invisibilia and always reliable NPR Politics podcast. You have to hit the “more” option before you get to see the full menu.

I like the KCRW Radio app because it offers access to three live streams: their justly celebrated on-air signal from southern California, their News 24 output and their Eclectic 24, which has just furnished me with Petula Clark in between the more contemporary sound of Beck and Viigo. If you’re on holiday and have access to Wi-Fi, all the above are worth sampling and can be downloaded for nothing.

[Source:- The Guardian]

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