Welcome to the Quiet Zone

Instagram, Facebook, X, email, cat memes, and a slice of the internet all sit connected in our pockets, bags, homes, cars and work space. With the rise of 5G, refined software development and ever more powerful mobile devices, we take our connectivity for granted. Along with water, gas and electricity, we now demand internet connectivity as a 4th necessary utility. On assignment to some remote locations around the world I’ve often found mobile reception poor, frustratingly slow or expensive but ultimately my devices, with some persistence, are able to connect to the world beyond. You simply cannot escape our sharing and update culture.

This joint BBC Radio 4 and photographic series explores a rare land where mobile connectivity is outlawed, the science of radio astronomy is pushed to the boundaries of deep time and space and the NSA conduct their dark arts. Discover a diverse community of residents living and working around Pocahontas County, delve into the mind boggling statistics of the world’s largest movable land object beating at the heart of a land immersed in the sounds of bluegrass, cryogenic cooling and natural radio ‘silence'.

Originally envisioned as a personal photographic project, I couldn't escape a nagging 'what if' my investigations into the National Radio Quiet Zone came alive on radio? Those thoughts turned to making contact with one of the BBC's most experienced Senior Radio Producers, Sara Jane Hall. The meeting that followed rapidly turned to a full BBC Radio 4 commission. Sara Jane and I headed out to West Virginia and intrepidly entered the 'Zone'.

Listen on BBC Sounds

Read in Huck Magazine