RIP Digital Planet
A lot of us take podcast for granted now, but some years ago I found I could download a radio show from the BBC World Service to listen to at my convenience. That show was Digital Planet. Well it may have still been called Go Digital at that point, but I really do not know how long ago this was. The show started in 2001 and I assume it had been going a while before I found it. I expect I may have referenced it on some old social media or some version of my blog, but those are not available now. I have some offline blog archives that I may do something with eventually.
Anyway, Digital Planet (also known as Click for a while) has been part of my podcast listening for many years. What I liked about it was the mix of technology news from around the world. It could cover the latest in medical imaging and then talk about people in Africa sending payments over SMS. It covered a lot of stories I just would not have heard elsewhere. Many of us take technology for granted, but the internet has still not quite reached everyone in the world and innovations can change lives. It also covered darker topics such as online extortion and government internet shutdowns.
Patricia, Gareth (presenter), John and myself.
This week was the final broadcast as the BBC has decided to shut the show down for whatever reasons. 21 years is still good run. I have been part of the online listener community for some time via a Facebook group. I have attended several live shows at the BBC Radio Theatre in London including the 18th and 21st birthday shows. I have got to know the presenter Gareth Mitchell a little and he got me on the guest list for some of those shows so I could join the team in the nearby BBC Club afterwards. The producer Ania messaged several of us inviting us to the wrap party for the final show. At least four of us made it. I was there slightly early to find Patricia and John waiting to be let it. Conrad turned up a little later just as we were having a Whatsapp call with Gauri, a lady from India who has been a big fan of the show and featured in a few pieces. I have had my name read out several times and one even included mention of Hive.
People were gathering in the club as the team put the final touches to the show that was broadcast last night. You can listen to it here.
One of the great things about the show was that the podcast would always include extra content with an introduction and outro that have contributions from listeners and sometimes extra chat with guests. That made it much more personal than most shows from big broadcasters.
There were some snacks and free drinks to be had. I chatted with the other listeners, but also to the presenters and producer. Previous members of the team were also there.
Ghislaine Boddington, Bill Thompson and Gareth Mitchell. Angelica Mari conferenced in from Brazil.
The presenters all have other roles in journalism and education. I may well stay in touch with them and there may be other opportunities to get together. Perhaps there could be some independent podcasts featuring them. Never say never.
It was a lovely evening, but I needed to get a train home. After getting chatting with the guys I realised I needed to make a move and said my goodbyes. I ended up jogging down to Oxford Circus to get the Tube. I arrived at Finsbury Park just as my train pulled in, so I did not need to hang around for the next one.
Just by the main entrance to the BBC is a statue of George Orwell with a very apt quote:
If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
Some presenters on the BBC have been criticised by the government and some of the media for speaking their minds, even when it is on air. We always need dissenting voices speaking out against injustice and corruption. People in the public eye can reach a big audience and should not be muzzled as long as they do not compromise their professional integrity.