Radio Show Explores Life’s Necessities
Interesting factoid: An estimated 850,000 cellphones are inadvertently flushed down British toilets annually. And there’s more toilet humour where that came from, according to the hosts of Otago Access Radio show Necessities of Life.
History professor Barbara Brookes and general practitioner Tree Cocks dig deep for all manner of information and anecdote in a weekly programme dedicated to the things most of us take for granted.
Prof Brookes said the titbit on the watery demise of British mobile devices was turned up while researching an episode on the history and future of sewerage systems. Other topics on a growing list of potential programmes included blood, food and music.
“We began with topics we thought combined our knowledge – I teach a course on the history of medicine, which involves thinking about public health, and Tree is in practice so she knows about these issues in a way that I don’t. “But there are all sorts of things we couldn’t live without, so the list is getting longer.”
Dr Cocks said the pair enjoyed doing the research for the radio show together, which included “finding terrible jokes” as well as music and poetry that complemented the theme of the day. Necessities of Life had also included a programme on bees. Dr Cocks was a gardener who “thinks about that natural world”, while Prof Brookes knew little about the subject but employed her historian’s instincts and skills to investigate a subject she might otherwise have ignored. “We often find that we’ve dug up so much information, it can’t be compressed into one episode,” said Dr Cocks. “Usually, the trouble is what we have to leave out.”
Dr Brookes said she and Dr Cocks listened to the radio a lot and decided to create their own show because they enjoyed pulling a subject apart in their general conversation together. “I think good radio is partly about sharing someone’s enthusiasm, so if we weren’t having fun it wouldn’t be much fun to listen to.”
Photo: Dr. Tree Cocks, Prof. Barbara Brookes