Today, my late friend and colleague Pete Myers would have been 73 years old. Sadly he passed away on December 15th 1998, much too young to enjoy retirement. I've been sorting through a series of sound archives and I constantly keep bumping into his voice, and the rich contributions he made to programmes I produced.
He was the host of great shows on the BBC African Service, being recruited in 1976 to revamp Radio Netherlands African service with a show called Afroscene. When I first came to Radio Netherlands Worldwide in 1980, he showed me the ropes, always advising his students to adapt what he was doing - never to copy. He later went on to start Mainstream Asia and Asiascan, as well as produce countless documentaries both on fact and fiction.
There's an old unwritten rule in international broadcasting called the "rule of sixes". After 6 weeks off the air, the audience will start to forget you. After six years they may even deny you were ever on the air.
I'm concerned that if you Google Pete's name today, you now only come up with an obituary in the UK Guardian, which reflects his early days at the Beeb, but very little of the Pete I was proud to know for 18 years at Radio Netherlands Worldwide. I note they got his birthdate and date of death wrong in the Guardian. In case of his birthday, that may have been Pete's fault. I remember his scrapbook of newspaper cuttings from his early days in broadcasting where he would make up all kinds of stuff to add to the hype around himself - born in Venezuela according to one article.
I've uploaded the show we made as a tribute to Pete - it was more of a celebration of his genius, rather in the style of BBC Radio 4's Great Lives. It's a 47 minute tribute to a great man. I put the programme back on line as an MP3. You can find it here or in iTunes as a Media Network podcast.