Desert Island Discs more than just a resource for good music

On Wednesday 16 May Drs Nick Smith and Cathleen Waters from the University’s School of Arts will be discussing the results of their research paper which analyses the radio archives of Desert Island Discs.

Desert Island Discs is a radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Each week a guest, called a 'castaway' during the programme, is asked to choose eight records that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, whilst discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices.

The ‘Interdisciplinary Connections’ seminar will take place this Wednesday, 16 May from 12noon-1pm in the Attenborough Tower, Room 206.

During the seminar, Dr Smith and Dr Waters will analyse whether changing the way you sample speakers on a radio show gives significantly different linguistic results.

Dr Smith said: “Radio has a very good preservation history of the spoken word, going back more than half a century. It also covers a wide variety of broadcast genres, reflecting the many contexts and purposes that talk is used in.

“Desert Island Discs is particularly interesting because it dates back to 1942 (with surviving archival recordings starting in the 1950s), it encompasses a wide range of guests, and yet it has had only four main hosts. The show's longevity, consistency of format, and accessible demographic information about the guests and hosts make it ripe for multi-/interdisciplinary research and experiments in sampling.”

Their research involved designing a series of samples around early and late phases of the longest-serving hosts. They then transcribed the recordings and conducted a linguistic analysis, to see what kinds of change were found consistently, and what changes depended on the sampling strategy.

The event is free and no prior booking is required for attendance.