When I was a young boy in the late 1940s and early 1950s, listening to the radio was the prime source of home entertainment. Television wasn’t an option until 1956 in Australia.
Our radio (or “wireless” as we called it) was the focal point for most households providing music, news and a range of entertainment options. And it did it superbly well.
Every afternoon, after school, I would huddle in front of the wireless listening to the serials. “Biggles”, “Hop Harrigan”, “Tarzan” and “Jungle Jim” were among my favourites. With only auditory senses stimulated by this medium, you had to exercise your imagination to visualize what was going on. It was a bit disappointing to learn, as I grew older, that the sounds were just man-made effects. For example, the sound of waves breaking on the shore was only someone sloshing water in a bucket!
Later, after dinner, the whole family would gather in our cosy little lounge-room and listen to wireless soapies, such as, “When a Girl Marries” or “Blue Hills”. Or there was the excitement of quiz shows, like “Pick a Box” or the variable talent of performers on “The Amateur Hour”. And, of course, usually on Sunday nights as I recall, the dramatic plays on the “Lux Theatre Hour”.
That crackly old wireless (which later became a flash radiogram) served us well during the pre-television era and, no doubt, brought our small family together for at least a couple of hours most evenings.
60 years later, I have rediscovered the joys of radio, having nearly abandoned that medium after TV arrived on the scene.
A couple of months ago, our world was turned upside down, when my wife and I found ourselves in financial difficulties. No job, little income and mounting debts forced us to vacate our apartment and turn to our family for support. This eventually involved a move from Melbourne to Sydney.
Settling in with a family with three children, 11 years old or less, has been a huge adjustment for all of us. For example, all of the family are early to bed, early to rise people. Me, I’m a night-owl. They’re all in bed by 8 pm and get up from 5-30 in the morning. I’m rarely in bed before 11-30 pm and get up around 7 am.
Also, they have their evening meal at 5 pm. This is much too early for my wife and me, so we have to prepare, eat and clean up after our meal by 8 pm. After that, we have to tippy-toe around carefully to ensure we don’t disturb anyone’s sleep.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. It’s just the way it is and it’s up to us to adjust to the requirements of our hosts.
My wife is happy to go to bed early and read. However, I’m programmed to stay up until after 11 pm.
That’s how I rediscovered radio.
With my mobile phone I subscribed to the ABC Radio app and found I could listen to an Australia-wide station, as well as to a variety of local State capital city stations, plus others for sport, classical music, and so on. In short, a wealth of selections and variety.
I’m now a regular listener to “Late Night Live” on Radio National, an hourly program commencing 10 pm Monday to Thursday, hosted by Phillip Adams, an erudite, left-leaning intellectual, social commentator and humanist. Each night he invariably interviews fascinating people from around the world, with a fascinating mix of local and international politics and current affairs; science; philosophy and culture. I’m impressed by his grasp on so many complex and interesting topics, as well as his gentle and ironic humour.
The rediscovery of radio has indeed been a blessing.
Which just goes to show – out of adversity comes opportunity (even if relatively trivial), provided you’re open and receptive to look for and appreciate it.