online: 28 july 2003

27 july 2003 multi-ethnic radio

12:39 Yesterday I accidentally tuned my radio to a multi-ethnic transmitter that is broadcasting 'to London and the Home Counties'... I smiled to hear that upper-class phrase spoken amidst a host ethnic voices. The old world is gone!

(It reminded me of the sudden growth of (Mexican) Spanish in the USA and I realised that the dominance of (English) English is beginning to cease...)

At first I thought it was a religious station broadcasting Islamic music - with occasional phrases in English - and I wrote some rather bewildered notes as I listened to the semi-strange mixture of languages and sounds... as I noted each feature of the broadcast I realised I was learning, like a small child, as I listened to a language mix I only partly understood...

These were the things I noted:

a continuous mechanical beat as in popular Western music

a superimposed chant that to me sounded Islamic

occasional short messages in English re frequency and 'good wishes to everyone'

this is more pleasant (or less irritating) to listen to than any music station I know (I normally listen only to intelligent talk radio)

'this is Spectrum 558 AM...etc' - a female presenter speaking a mix of English and an immigrant language

all of these features are transmitted together as a single channel of sound

advertising from 'Rainbow Commercial Finance' spoken by a male voice in English

at this point I realised I was listening to a well-financed powerful transmitter aiming to please a new mainstream audience

a voice speaking in an Arabic-sounding language ended the sentence with '...and much, much more'

then I caught the English words 'Pakistani version' and guessed that they broadcast in several Middle Eastern languages to listeners who all speak English

'A.R.Y. Digital' (what is that?) then phone-in numbers and an address in Leytonstone

and on 25 August an event in 'the world-famous Millennium Dome' (oh, I see, someone is finding a use for it - perhaps the Dome is not a disaster after all?)

then a voice said that 'A.R.Y. Radio is part of Spectrum International - broadcasting 24 hours a day'...

aah!... I realised that this is 'the city' in its uncontainableness continuing to change in both form and extent... Wonderful!

And now I look up Spectrum International Radio on the web and find there a well-established website telling of the presence (unknown to me until now!) of this station broadcasting programmes for the last 13 years to 25 ethnic and special-interest groups in London - including Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Tamil, Jewish, Islamic, Irish (no Welsh as usual), and yes Australian and (North) American. There is even a programme (Dawn Traders) from 5 to 7 am for news agents!

28 july: I switch on now and hear a female voice speaking rapid Italian and pausing for snatches of trumpety music... and I look out of the window to see teeming rain that has suddenly arrived from the Atlantic... as I continue to enjoy the musical intonations and clear vowel sounds of Italian... from a world of more sunshine that we are used to in the North... and now some sweet old-fashioned music -/-/-/---/-/-/---/-/-/-- musica Latina... Latina - Latina - Latina - wow! says a male voice (and on and on forever - this is multi-ethnic London there's no going back!) and now the rain has stopped.

what's new


digital diary archive

© 2002, 2003 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at