I don’t have memories far back enough to remember being read to by a parent, but I do have fond, though fuzzy, memories of my grade five teacher reading various novels to us. If we finished our last subject before recess early, then she would kindly take out a book and begin to read.
She moved us slowly and gently through a novel over the course of weeks, dependent upon our good behaviour. It may have been the influence of my nine-year-old crush on her, but I loved her voice. It was gentle and temperate, and my mind dampened in the rich peat-moss of the thoughts her voice conjured.
Private and precious mental constructions were built from the scenes she described. I think I will always remember my own psychic version of the peel tower encountered by the little British children in Narnia, and my sense of discovery at the treasures found there. My first experiences with The Chronicles of Narnia were aural, just the same as my exposure to Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet, specifically A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Somehow it meant more to me to hear them read aloud, instead of reading them myself, maybe owing to the fact that it took a lot longer to read the same material privately.
When I came to be at Trent Radio, I found that there were usually a few shows per season involving reading out the written word, broadcasting well-orchestrated letters from radio to ear. My brain did not immediately connect all these events together. I didn’t immediately fall in love with listening to books on the air, and instead, I didn’t know about my interest until I heard one programme in particular: “Growing Pains” with Caileigh Morrison.
She’s been doing it for a while now, but currently it broadcasts Monday nights from 6:30 to 7 pm. One of the first books she read aloud on the air was A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle. When I first listened, it sparked the memories of sitting attentively at a wooden school desk, where I had hurriedly tried my best at some supposedly serious subject in order to secure enough reading time. I was eager to listen, my ears perked and prepared. The ritual of it was perhaps as important as the act. The same anticipatory feeling comes over me as I wait for Morrison’s own readings on “Growing Pains.” She isn’t alone, either.
Please consult the Trent Radio website for the full programme schedule, but below are some programmes on Trent Radio 92.7 FM this season that involve reading things out loud over the air, mostly on Mondays, it seems. I have great respect for the people who read live, who don’t stumble over the dry words like I do. The process of listening is an affectionate experience – you are not alone with the material. There is someone speaking to you, and your role is to listen. If you want to listen, it’s as easy as 92.7 FM.