Friday, 9 February 2018


Soon however, I drifted further afield discovering pastures new in shortwave. Another early favourite was the Mailbag presented by Keith Glover on ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Mel­bourne. There was no mistaking his typ­ic­al nasal twang as the signal hopped across the globe on a Sunday mor­ning. His voice sounded as fam­iliar to me as the Kookaburra’s call. Keith even sent out airmail letters to tell listeners in advance when they were going to be mentioned on the airwaves of Radio Aus­tralia. Those were the pre-streaming days when distance still had magic. Radio Australia’s pro­grammes usually came booming in on a rock steady signal in the 25 m band. 

Mentioning the Kookaburra just now, I feel I must recount the story Keith Glover told on the air one Sunday morning. He explained that laughing Jacko, the broadcasting Kookaburra (the largest of all kingfishers) was captured in the bush whilst minding its own business sitting in a gumtree. The bird was brought to the studio and was coaxed into performing its uncannily loud call, echoing human laughter. When the sound engineer played back the recording, Jacko was so startled that he promptly fell off his perch.  Although today the familiar symbol of Radio Australia is the Kangaroo, long ago it was more often the laughing Kookaburra. Laughing Jacko combined with Waltzing Matilda was for many years Radio Australia's world famous interval signal.    

In the beginning -when my knowledge of English was still a bit higgledy piggledy- I was also deliberately seeking out stations that offered programmes in Dutch. That made for some unlikely bedfellows, as both Radio RSA in Jo­hannesburg and Radio Moscow became regular haunts of mine. Hearing my own language spoken from so far away obviously gave me some kind of kick.

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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