Frequency Illusion

In which you get an audio version of this blog, and I get to recapture my youth. Everyone’s a winner…

The Face of Radio
The full effect of this post will only be felt by anyone old enough to recognise this object

In our family, we call it a ‘dutcha’.

That’s our made up word for the experience of having never heard of something, and then hearing about it twice in quick succession.

(I recently discovered that it is very much a real thing – known as a frequency illusion – with a real name, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. But since explaining that to junior members of the family would require bringing them up to speed on German terror groups from the 1970s, I’m going to stick with dutcha for the time being.)

I had a recent example of the phenomenon a couple of weeks ago when, on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon, I received a tweet from a guy I was at University with way, way back when. “Is this you?” it said cryptically (and in full), adding a link to a YouTube video.

Nervously, I clicked the link and watched in horror as a local TV news story from 1993 creaked into life…

Time travel

Our University radio station, which normally broadcast in ultra-crackly AM, and for which I used to host a weekly show, had been awarded a temporary FM licence and the local TV news had come round to film this historic event.

(For younger readers, these were the days before podcasts, playlists, downloads, digital radio, WiFi, broadband, email or even dial-up internet access for the home. 1871, in other words.)

You can witness the full two-minute report here:

I appear in silent cameo from the 2’00” mark. I am the ginger bloke with the oh-so 90s hair, and the none-more-90s shirt. Normally, I would balk at showing my face in this blog, but as I have neither that hair now nor, thank god, that shirt any more, I feel it’s safe to share.

Keep an eye out for these crimes against fashion

My weekly lunchtime show – The Face of Radio, badum tsh! – happened to be live on air when the cameras stopped by.

(Notice that the footage would have you believe the news crew were there at 7am; instead, they rolled up at lunchtime and literally wound a clock back for effect. Pause the report at 2’06”, and you’ll see it was actually quarter to one in the afternoon. I haven’t trusted TV news since.)

My show was frequently terrible; more than once, my technological ineptitude resulted in dead air. The first time I played Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name, I did so at the wrong speed (ask your parents, kids). The next time I learnt from my mistake and, having checked the speed, I hit play and popped out for a quick comfort break.

Naturally I had set the uncensored version of the song running, so imagine my horror as I realised my latest error mid-break and had to sprint back from the gents to fade up another record just before it reached its notorious chorus of “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me”.

I never played it again after that.

Radio daze

Doha Heat studio
In the Doha Heat studio, Ifath gets ready to record

So having not thought about how great it was to put on a pair of headphones and ramble away into a mic for about 20 years, it was dutcha time. Because just a day or so later, I received an email asking me if I’d like to put on a pair of headphones and ramble away into a mic.

It was from Doha Heat, the city’s #1 podcast, asking me if I’d like to be their guest and talk about this here blog.

I didn’t care that it meant revisiting the horror that is hearing the sound of your own voice; nor that I am, at best, a reluctant self-publicist, I just wanted it to be 1993 again, so I accepted immediately.

Doha Heat podcast
Click here! It’s been skilfully edited to make me sound semi-coherent. Just don’t play any drinking games based on how many times I say ‘you know’.

So it was that I found myself in West Bay early one morning last week, at the offices of the awesomely-named Ginger Camel, clearing my throat and trying to think of something insightful to say. Hidden behind the mics on the other side of the table were my delightful interlocutors, Ifath and Andrew; a cup of coffee, a quick level set, and we were off.

(You should be able to hear the resulting podcast by clicking the Doha Heat logo above; but if my technological incompetence has struck again, you can always try clicking here.)

Pirate radio

Afterwards, Mrs LC asked me how it had gone. My first impression was ‘quickly’, and that the techs were going to have a job on their hands to make me sound semi-articulate.

Hugh Grant is The Pirate Captain
Hugh Grant’s best vocal performance is as the Pirate Captain in the criminally-underrated The Pirates!

At one point Ifath asks me why I write Little City as opposed to doing, say, doing a video blog. Partly because of my track record of technological incompetence, as referenced above.

I tried to compose a reply about how I organise my thoughts better via the written word. It was Hugh Grant-esque in its English stuttery mumbliness, only without any of his good looks or bank balance.

Bloggers are always being advised to ‘find their voice’; it’s usually meant to be metaphorical advice, but allow me just this once to take it literally.

Let me know what you think of the podcast – and maybe it won’t be as long as 20 years before my next recording session.


6 thoughts on “Frequency Illusion

  1. Rachel May 22, 2015 / 9:02 am


  2. keanw May 22, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    Your voice is all grown up. I still think of you as in the YouTube vid, of course.

  3. Roy B May 23, 2015 / 2:45 am

    Hi little city
    So did it retain its FM status , or sent back to mono AM ? The power of radio for the mind and soul should never be underestimated , years ago before Podcasts , Satelite TV , and mobile phones my daily connection to the outside world was SW BBC World Service and VOA , tyranny of distance made Radio fine tuning an art form , like a safe cracker you turn the dial so you could break open your daily dose of home news – and this wasn’t the 60’s , this was 1995 ,when Satelite came to my corner of the world that became my instant fix , but SW Radio and uncensored newspapers were savoured , papers re-read and kept for weeks – I think there’s room for all forms of communication, and like The Archers your blog life docco keeps us coming back for more

    • littlecity May 23, 2015 / 2:35 pm

      Hi Roy

      Thanks for stopping by. There was another temporary licence issued the following year, but it was to be a while before the station was awarded one permanently.

      (You can of course now listen live anywhere in the world at

      The only thing I can’t agree with you on is The Archers, but I know at first hand from my mum how powerful its hold on some people is!

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