Damon Albarn has created an ‘audio collage’ to be simultaneously broadcast on every BBC radio station in the UK and worldwide to mark 90 years of radio.
The simulcast, named Radio Reunited, will reach a potential global audience of 120 million people across every inhabited continent.
It consists of a three-minute transmission based on recorded messages submitted by listeners around the world on the theme of the future. An estimated 60 BBC radio stations will choose one message each, which will then be mixed together and set to a track specially composed by the Blur frontman.
Albarn told the Today programme: “The idea was people would be asked the question, What message would you give to somebody listening in 90 years’ time? There was this sort of anxiety and then there were a few younger minds musing on this and they in a way were the most interesting because they were very free and in a sense the only people who will have any connection with 90 years.”
He adds: “I don’t know what the various audiences will make of it… the biggest kind of block I had was, I can’t make it too Radio 4, but I can’t make it too Radio 1, but in Nigeria, none of those apply, or Afghanistan.”
The programme hints at some of the sounds that will be in Albarn’s collage: they include the chimes of Big Ben, a skylark, the name Bertrand Russell in Morse Code, the BBC radio pips and the sound of a Cold War spy station. “I tried to get the history of radio in a very abstract way,” says Albarn. “I don’t know what people will make of it – it is what it is.”
Radio Reunited will be broadcast on November 14 at 5.33pm, marking exactly 90 years since the first ever BBC broadcast.
Damon Albarn last month revealed that he’s keen to write another opera following the success of last year’s production of Dr Dee. Speaking at the English National Opera (ENO) in London on October 3, Albarn said: “I’ve got a really good idea. I’m not going to say what it is, but it’s interesting.”