Sunday, July 06, 2014

Different thoughts on our perception of time

UK Radio Celebrities - in 1934
Chris Wild is the founder and curator of Retronaut, a website that shows you a past you wouldn't believe, with a book due to be published by National Geographic in 2014. Retronaut takes an entirely unique outlook of the world as it was and the world as it is now. It is a 'time machine' that provides unprecedented access to millions of pieces of historical content, including videos, pictures, music and text from public and private archives. All of this depicts not only the past, but provides an illuminating alternative version of the present. The site takes the collective map of time we have in our heads and tears tiny holes in it.

If Retronaut is a time machine, then Chris Wild is the time lord, using an ability he believes exists in all of us to travel back using only perception. He worked across the museum and archive sector for the best part of a decade including the Hague based Europeana, and is currently guest curator at Northumberland Museum and Archives.

I confess my interest in the radio past was triggered by two books of cigarette cards which my father discovered in a charity shop. 

They date from 1934, when the Wills Cigarette company issued two collectors books of radio personalities. In each pack of cigarettes was one card. There are 44 cards to collect in each series. I find it fascinating to read about these station directors and continuity announcers. E.R. Appleton was apparently an honorary druid. Or that Gershom Parkington had a wonderful collection of clocks. And Stuart Hibberd was the tallest man in broadcasting house.

So when did broadcasting all go wrong?

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