Radio voices that soothe
It's reassuring in the global communications age, when we're bombarded with computer visuals, texts and automated phone messages, that the voice of a living, breathing human still counts.
That's my conclusion from the wave of public support and goodwill following news of the departure from Radio 4 of Charlotte Green and Harriet Cass.
BBC continuity announcers and newsreaders since the 1970s, they are taking voluntary redundancy in the new year – a BBC cut many listeners won't like.
From early morning news bulletins to late night shipping forecasts, these soothing, instantly recognisable voices keep us company, wrapping around us like a child's comfort blanket.
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Even when recounting gruesome war horrors, the voices stay reassuringly calm, as if it might somehow turn out all right in the end.
Strangely, we hear their melodious tones more than some of our family. They seem like friends, yet we don't know them at all.
In an era when radio presenters are prone to sloppy speech, incoherent regional accents and flashy ego-trips, it's a joy to hear understatement and correct pronunciation at Radio 4.
Even as a child, I was struck by gloriously familiar radio voices such as Mrs Dale of diary fame, Jean Metcalfe chatting to Bill in Cologne during Two-way Family Favourites, John Arlott's Hampshire burr at the cricket and Gloria Hunniford's relaxing dee-jay tones.
Voices on the phone can also be splendidly smooth and reassuring. In the era before call centres, Bath Central Library had an assistant who should have been reporting traffic news on Radio 2.
My doctor's surgery still has one instantly recognisable voice that oozes warmth and good humour.
Sadly, the automated stuff often has the reverse effect. I want to tell the self-service supermarket checkout woman what she can do with her "unexplained item in the bagging area".
As for the schoolmarm-like voice on BT's 1471 with her terse, "You have no new calls to return," – well, give me Charlotte Green any day.