Refreshed after a surf of the airwaves

By Liu Jun ( China Daily ) Updated: 2007-07-18 10:29:21

Refreshed after a surf of the airwavesThe audio system in our car stopped playing all CDs about a year ago. Before we replace it, or the car, I've rediscovered the fun of radio programs, a joy taken away by TV, Internet and busy schedules.

Auto Time (Qiche Shijian) at FM101.8 has two entertaining hosts - Zhang Weidong and Dong Bin. They stir up good-humored jokes with the auto dealers and mechanics they invite to the two-hour show. One minute, they try to help a driver whose car trembles when he beeps the horn; the next, they condemn the privileges that some rich people enjoy.

Another of my favorites is the culture channel (FM106.6) of China National Radio. It first grabbed me with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix read aloud by a lady, who always pronounced Potter as "BOH--t'er" and gave a strange emphasis to the other names.

At 5 pm these days, the channel airs Tale of a Southward Journey (Nan Du Ji) about university professors and their families who had to flee Beijing as Japanese invaders swept across the nation in the 1930s.

This autobiographic novel by Zong Pu is part of an epic which won the prestigious Mao Dun Literature Award. The chief protagonist of the novel is based on the author's father Feng Youlan, one of the nation's great philosophers. While talk shows and hip hop music drive me crazy on the forever jammed road, such audio novels always calm me down.

Back in college, I took a nap everyday listening to novels in Off the Shelf with BBC. In high school, I would devour a big bowl of fried rice my mother prepared for lunch, as the nation's top storyteller Yuan Kuocheng described the gallant heroes in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Often, my sister and I would wake up to the pleasant voice of Professor Cai Wenmei: "Hello everyone, this is English on Sunday!" I used to recount her mini-dramas to my classmates, but little did I foresee that Prof Cai would teach me English years later. "Did you really like the show?" Prof Cai asked me with joy, and borrowed a book of poetry for her next program.

As I waited patiently everyday for Small Loudspeaker (Xiao Laba) that was aimed at young children, I saw my father marking a radio schedule on the wall beside his bed with red lines and blue circles, so he wouldn't miss any broadcast about Peking Opera and comic xiangsheng crosstalk.

Then there were the loudspeakers - yes, long before we had our own huge cubic radio, it was the loudspeakers on lampposts that gave us information well, sort of.

Once, rumors floated that an earthquake would strike our area. Everyone had to wear heavy clothes to stay up in the open field. As the adults gossiped and the children frolicked, the broadcasters read political news - on and on. Political meetings seemed to dominate the shows, until one day, we heard two hosts talking about something else.

A listener asked: Is chicken egg a single cell? An egg is composed of a shell, a membrane, egg white and yolk, just like a cell has the wall, membrane, cytosol and nucleus. Are they the same? What a novel but refreshing idea! With that, even a primary school student like me smelt big change.

(China Daily 07/18/2007 page20)

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