BBC Radio 4 launches The Listening Project

BBC Radio 4 today launches The Listening Project, an ambitious new partnership between the network, BBC Local Radio, the BBC’s national radio stations and The British Library which aims to capture the nation in conversation.

The Listening Project will invite people across the UK to share an intimate conversation. Some of these conversations will be broadcast by the BBC and curated and archived by The British Library, building a unique picture of our lives today and preserving it for future generations.

What people talk about is their choice. It could be a moment of joy, sadness or reflection. This project is about creating the space for people to have that conversation they always meant to have.

Radio 4’s Controller Gwyneth Williams said: “We want to bring a new kind of conversation onto Radio 4, made possible by the unique nature of radio, its intimacy and entanglement in the lives of audiences.

“I’d like to invite listeners to help us catch, broadcast and archive for the nation those rare exchanges that really matter; those conversations that can change the course of a life; that are utterly memorable; that we have all had and never forget.

“I’m really delighted that Fi Glover will be presenting The Listening Project for Radio 4.”

Fi Glover said: “The Listening Project has an element of magic to it. Radio provides the perfect place for the intimacy of a profound conversation between two people – but the joy of this prospect is that it then allows all of us to eavesdrop on that conversation, and I defy anyone not to learn more about our shared human experience through doing so. The Listening Project is awesome in the scale of its ambition but humbling in the intimacy of each conversation – I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

Audiences will also be able to submit their conversations to the BBC through The Listening Project website* where they will also find guidance on how to plan and record conversations.

Edited three-minute versions of conversations will be broadcast on Radio 4 on Fridays beginning on 30 March. An omnibus edition will be aired on Sundays. All broadcast conversations will be available online along with a free download of the weekly compendium programme.

BBC national radio stations and BBC Local Radio stations will also be creating their own rich and varied Listening Project programming.

Programme contributors will be given copies of their conversation to keep and also have the chance to be a part of history as the British Library will be creating a permanent archive for the nation of the majority of these conversations.

The British Library will also play a key role in The Listening Project – full-length versions of conversations and some of the online uploaded conversations will be stored at the library to be preserved in perpetuity as part of the nation’s oral history.

Rob Perks, Lead Curator Oral History at the British Library, commented about the Listening Project: “The Listening Project will provide fascinating insights into contemporary Britain: what people from every corner of the nation think about their lives and loves, enthusiasms and disappointments, successes and failures.

“It is a chance to pause and reflect, and create a permanent record for the future. By curating and archiving The Listening Project recordings, the British Library will be making it available in perpetuity for the public and researchers to listen to and access for generations to come, ensuring that it becomes an invaluable part of our oral history collections.”

The Listening Project has been inspired by Storycorps, an initiative set up in the United States by David Isay. Storycorps aims to provide Americans of all backgrounds the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of their lives. Their stories are stored at the Library of Congress.