Thursday, 8 February 2018


On New Year’s day 1961, I saw my meagre savings gratefully topped up by my grandmother. That meant that on the second of January I could go radio hunting in Bruges clutching a 500 franc note (just over £4 at the time), being the sum of my worldly possessions. My quest for a new, inexpensive and cheap to run portable radio of the transistor persuasion was soon met with success. I returned home with a small hand-held radio, an ear-to-ear smile and 5 francs to spare.

The new transistor radio fulfilled all my expectations. It was small, loud, clear and cost hardly anything to run. Apart from that, it managed to capture far away stations that had failed to register on the Tesla. An added bonus, which I only discovered after I got home, was the fact that the set even had ‘Shortwave’! 

Whilst studying in my room I also started listening to ‘English by Radio’ from the BBC. Every day I tuned in to programmes for beginners and intermediate learners. The lessons were broadcast on 648 (where now Caroline lurks :) and 1296 kHz, the loudest channels on the Medium Wave at the time. I sent off £ 2.5 to an address in Brussels and subsequently obtained a year’s subscription to a weekly magazine, which included the texts of the dictation exercises that had been broadcast the previous week. That was a great help for a budding learner of English. After many spelling trials and tribulations I got quite good at it. In fact I had turned learning English into a hobby. Thanks to the BBC my knowledge of the language increased in leaps and bounds. I didn’t have the faintest idea then, that at some time in the future I would become a stringer for one of the BBC stations. I’m sure that would never have happened if it had not been for that small transistor radio. 

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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