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Uncle Mickey


The radio
Philip Roth Writer
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As I remember, we had one radio in the living room – a kind of a console radio – and then we had a little one in the kitchen that my mother listened to during the day when she was doing whatever she did in the kitchen. And then we ate… we ate in the kitchen, so the radio was on while we were eating; there would be the news and then the music, you know. Eventually, my brother and I had a radio in our room and… that was great fun, because after we were supposed to be tucked in bed, lights out, we could turn the radio on and hear stuff. It seemed very… that was the height of my childhood transgression – was listening to the radio after 10 o'clock. We… we didn't have… we had some... as I said, we didn't have a phonograph; it was… it was a luxury. We weren't destitute, don't get me wrong, but it was… it was a luxury, and neither of my parents had any interest in classical music so it would have been pop music, and pop music we could get on the radio. I… I only know of one of my friends whose family – my four or five close friends – whose family had a phonograph.

The fame of the American writer Philip Roth (1933-2018) rested on the frank explorations of Jewish-American life he portrayed in his novels. There is a strong autobiographical element in much of what he wrote, alongside social commentary and political satire. Despite often polarising critics with his frequently explicit accounts of his male protagonists' sexual doings, Roth received a great many prestigious literary awards which include a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997, and the 4th Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: radio, listening to the radio, childhood, phonograph, music

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013