Roel Wijland

was a founding partner of brand consultancy BSUR  in Amsterdam. Nowadays he makes his most capricuous ideas on the veranda of the University of St Bathans in Central Otago, New Zealand. He is also lecturer in marketing management and creative marketing communication at the University of Otago in Dunedin. His research interests, publications, confererence presentations and specialistions for supervision of Masters and PhD students can be found on the university’s website.



Podcast on the Pigroot

I’ll admit to one of my more favourite addictions. The greatest benefit of the internet for a marketeer happily condemned to the quiet isolation of coastal and Central Otago is that it dusts off any local radio station in its most imaginative displaced form.

I live in a place where the language reminds one vaguely of contemporary Western European culture, but the eye disagrees and serves up a conflicting panorama of huggable Late Seventies Cracked Hipness. Inside you’re easily lured to the available memory of radio. Radio is not only the immigrant’s intimate secret sharer; radio doesn’t conflict with the mechanics of writing for some reason.

The Internet is a Better Radio. All new technology brings the pain of displacing an earlier one. Mentally and physically provincialising my umbilical SONY world receiver feels a bit like nodding in agreement to the artificial permanent sleep of a domestic animal. Internet radio defines the difference between the interior of St. Bathans (no connections of any kind, apart from that nature and those humans) and the flats of St.Kilda (broadband at the overpromised speed of a 19th century steam train). Where radio as the most intimate sensuous intake of media is a blisteringly luxurious experience.

Forget Bruce Springsteen and overmediation, this is a zillion channels and always something on. And a small percentage (say a million) treat language as if it’s a worthy medium. A fingertip touch to switch from the live commentary of an Ajax game – hear them curse and breathe as they step on the pitch – to the brilliant Late Junction on BBC 3 and Verity Sharp. A poetic label for a voice that hath no face. The bio-rhythmically pleasing part is that you get hooked on opening up your chest on New Zealand mornings to the soothing pace of a British smoky late night voice. It exactly fits our tempo here in this near Antarctic retreat with its Presbyterian manana pace. It’s not cold blooded, but you need to manage a slow heart rate.

I profess to burning a Sunday morning European podcast on a CD and listening to it in my 1998 Toyota 4WD on the Pig Root. Sometimes the there and here coincide – as in that frequent and most visual sentence on New Zealand’s Concert Radio: ‘and now we go over to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam’. The wavelength sentence where the ‘go’ is as miraculous an achievement as the pronuciation of ‘Concertgebouw’. I can smell red pluche.

Rorty’s Quietism is a sticky neologism that I imagine to give a meaning most days. But as a professed fan of slow ethnography, I look over my shoulder in the secure knowledge that practitioning marketing strategists will inevitably see transactional profit in sussing me out. They are like me and will catch up and swap dominant Place for dominant Time in excited abondonment of contextualised receptivity. They’ll top-prioritise models of mind spaces when consumers’ perceived perspectives of Time have slowed down and they’ll shout about the dominant four T’s. The new digital Place is in flux like most of the other P’s; like the P of the immaterial Product (remember Price) or the T of Talk to a Friend that will replace the Push of Promotion.

Radio forces the imagination to visualize, feel, emotionalise, on the scarce basis of voice and language. I only like media and texts that have organically in-built gaps to imagine. For that reason poetry on the web charms and re-enchants me.

I have listened innumerable times to The M at the End of the Earth, the poem Cliff Fell wrote for the Poetic Brandscapes project – and have found something old in it every time. Sometimes it’s a mere inflection that opens an insight, proof that words need air as much as vowels. Screens flower on short winter days – listen.



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