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This week, I am one of the lucky Australians to be surveyed for official radio ratings. I have to place a cross in every fifteen minute slot I listen to, and then another as to where I am listening. My participation will explain the sudden massive surge in Radio National’s ratings.

I get angry about commercial radio. For this reason, as much as I have been tempted to check what song is playing on one of those dreadful stations during some particularly dull moment of PM, I have avoided it, because I would hate for them to get one extra official listener.

Does commercial radio accurately reflect the tastes and demeanour of the majority of Australians? Do most Australians really want more chances to win every hour? Do they really want to listen to hours of commercials every week, propaganda that incites discontent and more spending?

Well, yes, probably.

I keep seeing a billboard for 94.5 FM with the slogan “Pack more into your morning with Bodega’s Bunch”. And every time I ask, pack more what? Insipid banter? Prizes?

And yet I must confess that I feel addicted to Radio National in a way that isn’t altogether healthy either. I find myself needing to listen to it even when I don’t want to. There’s some need to hear the voices, to learn something more.

I wish I wasn’t driving home so often at the time PM goes to air. I always feel like I need to listen to it, but it’ s never satisfying. Always the new surfaces of current affairs, the latest political developments. All this surface is so draining. I could listen to news and current affairs programs for the next twenty years and get no closer to an understanding of the situations described, the long history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, say.

I think as a society we need less news and more history. That’s why many of the other programs Radio National produces are so invaluable, reaching beyond the surface to history, analysis, ideas. In Perth, you’ll find it at 810AM. (Do not confuse it with 720AM ABC local radio; 720 is like commercial radio without the commercials.)