Tuning in to Radio Badger.

My phone startled me out of my work on Sunday. There was a young Frenchman on the line who made an effort to pronounce my name correctly, and politely requested five minutes of my time for a survey to establish which radio stations the French population enjoyed. As I was working on a Sunday too, I felt sorry for him. I decided to break my vow to reply “Bugger off and find yourself another victim”, and said “yes”. (nb: Kathryn, I did you proud! )

Italiano: Radio Marea (1950)

Italiano: Radio Marea (1950) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think he was surprised by my answer. We are not on the same wavelength about radio stations in my family, leading to regular fighting over the twiddler on the radio. (Yes, I know that word doesn’t exist. Or didn’t. It does now.) We don’t listen at the same volume, either. (I thought that it was older people who needed to turn the volume up high, yet the opposite phenomenon occurs in our home).

NRJ is the kids’ favourite radio station. I can’t stick listening to it most days, although I would maybe admit after a few G&T’s, breathing in a balloon full of helium and sticking a 40 denier stocking over my head that Manu does makes me laugh in the morning.

PF listens to classic FM. This transforms a short family car trip into a long torture session. For my offspring, it is the auditive equivalent of having cocktail sticks slid under their nibbled teenaged nails. The boys whip out the teenager’s equivalent of musical earplugs for instant relief, whilst Little My wrinkles her nose and rolls her eyeballs in despair.

The last time PF did it, we were on our way out for the day. The tinkling piano music in the car deadened my senses and made me feel like I was in an airbus rather than a Citroën. My enthusiasm for the day waned as I saw myself transmogrified into a kind of Alice-banded member of the Parisian bourgeoisie, twin-setting her way across impoverished Provence in her private plane to show little Charles-Henri how lucky he was to be born with a silver ladle stuck up his Burberry-clad rear end.

I tried very hard to resist, but on arrival at our destination, I cracked. Pinching my nose closed, I held my mobile phone skew-whiff in front of my mouth with my little finger sticking out sideways, and launched into a loud Air France trolley dolly announcement. Imagine Pam Ann with a French accent, and you’ve got it (there’s a video for you at the bottom).

“Lay deezeuh andeuh Dgenteulmen. We ‘ave landeed een Lamaloueuh-les-Baings hairporteuh. Ze wezzeur eez fiyn. Pleeaseuh reemaineuh een yor seets unteel ze haircrafteuh ‘as stoppt mooveeng, andeuh be kairefool when openeeng zee over’edd lockeurs. Sank yio fore flyeeng MM hair-lines, an we ‘opeuh to see you agin soon”.

PF tried to look unimpressed, but the laugh escaped along with his opinion that we were all Philistines.

If I’d been alone, I would have tuned in to local radio. Here in the South of France, my radio is set on “Radio Badger” as soon as the kids leave for school. I call it “Radio Badger”, because the first time I came across it, the announcer had run all the words into each other, and combined with his strong accent, “Radio Bleue Hérault” turned into “Radio Blaireau”: “Radio Badger”.


The queue of candidates for Radio Badger’s phone-in competition read up on their encyclopedias as they waited for the final clash. (Photo credit: Clapagaré ! (Les chiquitos)

Radio Badger is the bee’s knees for anyone who enjoys observing human nature. The phone-in competitions are hair-raisingly nerve-wracking. Two housewives, both entrenched in the organza-curtained living rooms of their Wimpey homes, clutch their receivers in sweaty, manicured hands as they battle to the death to win one of two prizes. These are usually a Radio Badger watch or a ticket to see one of their geriatric French idols crooning through his false teeth at his last concert in Sète.

What is important to them is to win, because all their friends from the knitting club are listening in and they don’t want eggs Benedict on their faces for the next WI sale. The clock ticks as they hesitate before breathlessly delivering their reply, whether it is the name of the river running through Pezenas or how many Front Populaire strikers enjoyed boeuf bourgignon every Tuesday back in 1935.

This week, both candidates were disappointed. Alice lost the game as she wasn’t able to say who dubbed Columbo’s voice in the French version of the series. Régine won, but she didn’t want the Radio Badger radio because she had already won one a month ago. She didn’t want the latest CD of Maxime Le Forestier, either. She grumbled and said that she would have preferred the Gypsy Kings (no doubt desirous to twirl around her kitchen in her 1950’s pinny, using a pancake pan as a guitar and the washing-up brush as a microphone).

The man organising the competition was a born negotiator and moderator. He suggested phoning back again on another day when she could maybe win what she wanted. After twenty years negotiating with disappointed Languedoc housewives, he could no doubt settle current discord in Turkey by distributing complimentary Radio Badger oven gloves to all concerned. Radio Badger rocks. Before we go back to the studio for the news, here’s Pam Ann, complete with PF’s airbus music.


26 thoughts on “Tuning in to Radio Badger.

  1. Isn’t French radio awful? I used to listen to Manu when I took my son to school a few years back when he was in the private sector and while it was funny, he was also a bit much. I always seem to get difficult jazz or hard core modern dissonance when I tune in to the classical music station, or some really boring conversation. No such luck with nice restful Classic FM strains!

    Not that I get much chance to listen in anyway. I used to listen to The Today Programme on my pc over breakfast but it infuriated me so much that I would go to work wanting to punch someone so I’ve given that up too. 🙂

    • Manu surprised me yesterday because he announced the three subjects for the philosophy exam at 8.40 am, when students can still be outside the exam room as they can turn up up to an hour late. What a prize plank.
      I listen to radio 4 when I iron; I download podcasts of ‘The Now show” (Friday night comedy. Still laughing at the image of you punching someone in the face as you arrive at work, definitely changes from the bise 🙂

  2. Local French radio is slightly unreal for me. Maybe it’s because I hate it so much in England, I don’t differentiate. Any one on a quiz is on my list! Something I do want is a digital radio that I can run of my computer. I quite like Les Grosses Tetes, but then I start to think about Nicholas Parsons and settle for silence.

  3. My wife disliked my taste in music so much she banned me from listening to it in the house. Eventually, after many arguments and heated negotiations, we reached a compromise. She decided she hated ironing more than she hated my music so we agreed I would do the ironing and in return I could listen to my music – but only whilst I was doing the ironing and at no other time. As a result, I used to take a very leisurely approach when tackling the ironing 😆

  4. My children use to moan and groan all the time at their fathers’ choice of tunes in the car and he would hate anything they wanted to listen to… it was easier by far to take two cars… he would travel on his own and I would have the kids with me! Funnily enough, this was more stress free and peaceful for me! 😉

  5. Radio Badger sounds awesome and I’m impressed you listen to local radio instead of just English radio via internet. That may explain why your French is a lot more advanced than my Italian! Thanks for the Pam Ann clip, very funny.

    • Local radio is the ideal way to get your head around a language. I’m not a very good expat in the sense that I don’t actively seek the company of other expats, I don’t have cable English TV, and I don’t put my kids in international schools. Such is life 🙂

  6. We had something similar to Radio Badger…music last heard twenty years previously (and one could see why it hadn’t been played in the interim) interspersed with local interviews….mostly cries of c’est bon, non? (how tempting the reply that rose to the lips)..and the dreaded quizzes which were obligatory listening for the participants’ villages.

    I jumped a line and found myself thinking what a good idea it was for Radio Badger to send rocks to Turkey….must replace glasses…

    • The music on radio Badger is fab – none of that rap rubbish. Abba and Simon and Garfunkle rule the wavelengths! Maybe rocks would rock if the oven gloves didn’t (wasn’t that a horrible sentence?) 🙂

  7. French radio may not be wonderful, but I still listen to it as much as I can when I’m there as it’s so good for my language. I do tend to choose talk radio, where I can hear enough of a topic to know what they are talking about and understand something about it rather than being interrupted every few minutes by music.

    Your account of car journeys and music made me giggle. DH and I were more than a little surprised when we took the two older grandsons (14 and 11) home after half-term and gave them the choice of what station to listen to as we sat in the inevitable traffic jam on the M62. Their instant choice? Classic FM!

      • They’re both learning 3 musical instruments each, so it’s very much their thing. Grandson#1 is quite keen on 80s stuff such as Queen, but not on modern rock and pop and his younger brother just doesn’t seem to be interested in any of it yet. Give them time….

  8. THAT MADE ME SMILE FOR THE FIRST TIME TODAY !!! Bravo…:) Now I will finish reading !!!!
    (Followed quickly by Pam Am)

    Music is so subjective. My family has never enjoyed my bravado in the car or the shower. IF I do not know the words I make them up and the melody usually follows IMO… I listen to current music and can run till I drop to Beyonce but prefer Hans Zimmer in the quiet moments. My family has developed their own distinct tastes which generally are left to their own cars: ))

    Thanks for lightening my mood!

    • UH -oh. BAD GIRL moment. Lesson learnt: Never click approve without answering comments immediately 😦 I’m glad I made you smile! We’re now in full conflict mode as it’s the school holidays. I’m off to check out Hans Zimmer now.

  9. You are very observant and funny with it! You appear to live in the very area we visited in May with the thought of moving there. We stayed in a B & B in St-Genies-de-Fontedit, travelled up to Lamalou, down to the Med and left and right a bit. Beautiful area. Can you recommend it for someone who speaks poor French (but has vowed to listen to the radio next time) and himself who speaks no French? The BA clip would have been funny if it wasn’t so true. No, no. That’s a bit harsh. They’re not quite that bad.

    • OMG, as my kids would say. I’m so sorry I didn’t reply! (insert ashamed smiley *here*). I live in the Languedoc Rousillion, in the Hérault valley. I’d say that what is important is the desire to learn and adapt rather than the region. However, I’ve spotted a fair number of English bods around, who have either settled here or have holiday homes. The region attracts people like flies, which is reflected by the high rate of unemployment :-/ Now I’m off to haul on my badgirl hairshirt and say fifty hail bloggies for failing to reply to you…. 😦

      • No probs MM! Take that hairshirt off. Interesting to hear what you say, however the more we read about regulation and taxation, especially inheritance tax, the less inclined we are to move to France, much as we love it, especially your region. There are high medical and travel costs (to the UK to see family) to contend with if we stay in the US. Then there is the British weather and terrible NHS. We are drowning in a morass of indecisiveness. Bugger.
        btw – I have only just discovered the little button on the top right of WP that tells me I’ve got new messages and likes. Duh!

    • Hmm. Not sure how it works if you’re not a French citizen; I’d check out which country’s legislation inheritance tax falls under in your case. I do get your dilemma; however, there’s Ryan Air in Béziers that flies to direct to the UK (I fly to Bristol and it takes hours off my journey to Cornwall).
      Ah the little orange button 🙂 It took a while for me to notice it, too. Now I leap on it every time it lights up 😀

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