Saturday, 10 February 2018


In the early 60’s, before Radio Caroline came on the scene, I used to travel the world every night in bed, an earphone plugged in and the small transistor balanced on my chest. I could hardly wait for dusk to reach South-America. As soon as the path between my home and the America’s was in total darkness the most exotic signals would be wheedling their way to my bedroom. Wintertime was the best since the sun set early and conditions were soon right for the sky wave to work its magic, especially in the 60 m band. And thumbing below the sheets my right hand had been well trained to find even the weakest local stations in Venezuela and adjacent countries. I even taught myself some Spanish for the purpose. Although I must say that Assimil’s ‘Español sin esfuerzo’ at times was still too much ‘esfuerzo’ for my liking. In spite of my learning French –a related language- at school, there was still quite a bit of effort involved before I started to understand a modicum of Spanish. A big help however was the fact that in Latin America the language is properly pronounced and clearly enunciated. In Spain on the other hand people sound permanently ravenous as they gobble up at least half of every word they speak.

Although I have never been much of a sports person –apart from basketball and squash- at times I even tuned in to football matches on the small Latin stations. That’s where I for the first time heard a goal being scored, a Latin goal that is. The ‘gooooool’ shout by the commentator on ‘Ecos del Torbes’ went on forever. Well, at least for well over a minute. By comparison goals scored in my neck of the woods are most modest affairs. Many internet blogs claim that the extended gol-screams were introduced in the 80’s by Hispanic television commentator Andrés Cantor in the States. This obviously is a total fabrication as the practice was already in full swing on Latin radio 20 years earlier. That fact has recently been confirmed by Cantor himself, who admitted: “Yo no inventé nada. La manera de gritar el gol está inventada hace mucho tiempo”.

The Venezuelan station ‘Ecos del Torbes’ was big on sports. It broadcast from San Cristóbal and had been on the air since 1947. Many years later, as luck would have it, when preparing offshore Radio Paradijs, I was to meet its founder Don Gregorio Gonzalez Lovera in the States.

Night time listening in bed offered me many years of atmospheric entertainment. Amongst my favourites were the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service from Dominica, Radio Rumbos in Venezuela and Radio Reloj from Costa Rica. In later years, being able to tune in to Radio Reloj even came in handy one eventful night on board the Mebo 2, as I will recount later.

More of AJ's radio- and other anecdotes.

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