Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Pete Myers - 73 today

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.


Anonymous said...

I remember Pete. He was a jewel. I can't believe that he's been gone for over 10 years. Thanks for the nice tribute. -gar in Oakland CA USA

Jay said...

Miss him:(

Spirit of 78 said...

I just found this on Google. I haven't listened to Radio Netherlands in years, but Pete Myers was great on there, especially the Happy Station. Sad to hear he died so young :(

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making the audio file available. I listened to the Happy Station Show, and enjoyed every minute, but knew only little about Pete Myer's other programs.
There's no way to forget the racy style of his broadcasts, the quarrels with other presenters in front of the microphone, and the treasures from his own archives, which he'd rebroadcast on RN every once in a while.
And just casually, he taught many of us listeners real English.

SallyMerrifield said...

I met Pete back in 1964 when I was a "rookie" BBC secretary, and he was presenting "Good Morning Africa" at the West African Service (Bush House). He was always outrageous, and hilarious - never a dull moment, and he enjoyed teasing me unmercifully (being a very naive 18 year old). He was also kind, however. I spent a couple of weeks working fulltime for him as secretary, when his usual secretary was on leave. He insisted that I had to be by his side at all times, including accompanying him for coffees and lunch in the canteen. He was convinced of his genius, and would tell us regularly that he was going to be famous. Guess he never quite made that, but was appreciated by those who did know him, as regular listeners in various parts of the globe.

Even though the period I knew him was relatively short, I have always thought of him with affection, and remember well the varying stories he would tell about his heritage,birth place etc.

Found this blog as I am doing some research currently on the sixties.
Sally Cleeve (as I was then known).

Jonathan Marks said...

Hi Sally. Drop me a line and I'll send you the MP3 which is missing from the website.