Sunday, July 14, 2013

Revisiting New Zealand Radio and Australia in 2000

Really glad I kept these radio programmes which were recorded in Australia and New Zealand in 1999. The first programme explains how Radio Hauraki and BBC World Service operate in New Zealand. We also visited the brilliant George FM when it was guardband micronetwork. It is clear that NZ, even today, isn't interested in digital radio.

We also visited Sydney, Australia to record a great edition of the programme with Mike Bird.

And this programme is also relevant. It was a tribute programme we made to New Zealand shortwave listener and broadcaster Arthur Cushen. The second half of the programme includes some amazing recollections by Arthur himself, especially of the war years. 

It doesn't seem like nearly 16 years ago that Arthur T Cuhen passed away. He was probably one of New Zealand's most famous shortwave listeners, having made his hobby of radio listening into a career from the 1960's onwards. He reported regularly for magazines and radio stations, including Radio Netherlands DX Juke Box and Media Network. We broadcast this tribute programme in which I tried to mix tributes with some fascinating stories told by Arthur himself. While we recorded his contributions for the programme he would often reminisce. He also had made excellent recordings of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia even though he was monitoring the events in Prague on the other side of the world. He often spoke of his wife Ralda, who was his childhood sweetheart and faithful companion. 

They lived at 212 Earn Street in Invercargill, New Zealand - an address that was often read out over dozens of international radio stations. I was struck by his picture perfect memory in which he could recall his work for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service during the Second World War. He could hear stations in Japanese occupied Singapore and Indonesia, as well as Tokyo. They regularly broadcast the names of Allied Prisoners of War, which Arthur would transcribe by hand (there were no tape recorders) and pass on the message to grateful next of kin. Arthur was born with poor eyesight which gradually got worse in the course of his life. He not only did a lot of work for the shortwave radio community, he was also extremely active in local groups for blind and partially sighted in the South Island of New Zealand. 

This programme is a celebration of Arthur's contribution to a very important time in international broadcasting. It was broadcast in September 1997.

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