BBC’s cure for pandemic stress: the streaming sound of rustling paper

Anita Singh
·2-min read
Broadcasts of ‘slow radio’, including birdsong on Radio 3, and ‘slow TV’, including a commentary-free, two-hour canal boat journey on BBC Four - Peter Byrne/PA
Broadcasts of ‘slow radio’, including birdsong on Radio 3, and ‘slow TV’, including a commentary-free, two-hour canal boat journey on BBC Four - Peter Byrne/PA

The BBC is to broadcast the sound of pages turning and fabric rustling, as part of a new “relaxation destination”.

The 24-hour stream on BBC Sounds will also include “soundscapes” from the natural world taken from Seven Worlds, One Planet, the Sir David Attenborough series.

It follows the corporation’s success with broadcasts of “slow radio”, including birdsong on Radio 3, and “slow TV”, including a commentary-free, two-hour canal boat journey on BBC 4.

The Sounds stream “will reflect the BBC’s commitment to supporting audiences to manage their mental wellbeing” and is available to all listeners, but has been devised by Radio 1 with a particular emphasis on helping young people who may have seen their anxiety levels increase during the pandemic.

Called Radio 1 Relax, it “will provide the ultimate destination for listeners to unwind and deal with the challenges life can bring”.

The wellbeing stream will include a daily hour of ASMR, or ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’, referring to sounds that can induce a tingling sensation in listeners.

In addition to the pages of a book being turned and fabric rustling, the hour will include the sound of popping candy.

Other features include an hour of mindfulness, hosted by a “breathwork expert”, and a motivational session in which musicians, sports stars and other famous faces share advice on how to maintain their mental health in the face of adversity.

Deirdre Kehoe of the mental health charity YoungMinds said: “The past year has been incredibly challenging for lots of young people. Many have told us that they’ve struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought on by the pandemic, and have experienced social isolation, anxiety and fears around their future.

“We welcome Radio 1’s focus on creating content that supports young people’s mental health and helps them unwind. Advice about how to look after yourself during difficult times, as well as tips on mindfulness and meditation, can be helpful for some young people when they feel overwhelmed or anxious, and we hope that this is of benefit to them at this time.”