A noiseless flash 

14 October 2020 tbs.pm/71608

On this day in 1946, the BBC Third Programme began a serialisation of John Hersey masterpiece about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.

Surprisingly, the piece got a repeat, edited together as a full-length reading, a month later on the BBC Light Programme. Light it is not, but it was (and still is in many ways) very important. Putting it in peak-time on the most popular BBC radio service of the day was a genius move: this was something people needed to hear. The Light Programme, only just over a year old, had its format broken by this repeat. But it was worth it and there seem to have been few complaints.

The original recording now appears to be lost, but the essay is available for free on The New Yorker’s website, and in book form.

A half hour documentary about the essay is available on BBC Sounds.


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