Me and my Radio

By Ahmet Abdulaziz…..

The other day  I came across a photograph of a cassette player in Facebook, which was shared as a nostalgic item.

That particular post made me think that for the new generation a cassette recorder is now a nostalgic item and belongs to the generation where the cassette recorder was a new invention. Indeed the time has passed quickly, and is now passing by much faster.

This particular post in Facebook took me back to 1960s when I was a small child. The year was perhaps 1960 or 1961, when I was 5 or 6 years old. We had moved to a new residential area where the houses were small. It was far away from the main city. There was no electricity in the area. I was told that in a neighbour’s house there was a headphone. I had never heard of anything like that before. With great interest I was taken to their house where the headphones were put on my head. I was really thrilled to listen to light sound of music coming from the headphones into my ears. I was not just thrilled but shocked too. It was my first experience with radio.

My father later on explained to me about how an ear (head) phone works. There was a long aerial (in cable form) which the neighbours had bound from one corner of the roof to the other corner. The open wire of the cable used to catch the short waves of  broadcasts of the radio station, and was re-transforming the waves of music channeling it to the earphones through another cable.

I would like to put a personal note here too. Actually I was obsessed with the headphones, and used to visit them very often, just to put them over my head and to listen to music. My mother had been admonishing me, but I always found a chance to be there. The headphones used to hang over a big hook on the wall. I was so short at that age that I had had to climb on a chair to take the headphones off the hook. Of course it used to be a very short spell of enjoyment for me, as my mother was always after me, so one day as I was just trying to hang back the headphone on that hook, I slipped off the chair, and the headphone fell down on the floor, and broke. I was horrified of the incident and I just ran away, without looking back. I remember I avoided coming out of our house for the next few days, as I was too frightened of being caught. I did not tell my parents of the incident, but they did get the news. I went through a session of strong admonishing by my mother. The matter was closed because the neighbour, who in fact was a technician, repaired the headphone, and did not make it an issue against us.

So that was my first experience with radio.

We were still living in the same house, and there was no electricity in the area, when my father bought a transistor radio. It was a small radio. I remember, the first day when he brought that, myself, my elder brother and other children of the nearby houses had all gathered round my father, who had sat in the middle of the room. He took the small transistor radio out of the bag. Then he took out 3 battery cells, and placed them inside the transistor. There was a small metal antenna, which he had put in order. There were two waves in it. One was medium wave and the other short wave. It was a rare treat for all of us, to listen not just to the local radio broadcasts, but from a number of radio station from different parts of the world.

Even transistor radios were very rare in those days. However, knowing very well my nature, my father had strictly told me not to touch the transistor radio in his absence. I remember it was permanently put above a wooden cupboard, out of my reach. Only my mother was allowed to switch it on or off in the absence of my father.

In a short period of time, we all got used to it. I remember we used to listen BBC, in the late evening. There were some good radio programs from the local radio station. I need not point out that in those days there used to be only one radio station in our country.

After a year we moved out of that house, and rented another house in another area of the city, with electricity.

My father did not lose much time, to sell off his transistor radio and bought a larger Philips radio, with two loudspeakers. It was quite large and heavy. I remember, my mother had stitched a cover for it, to save it from dust. She had embroidered some red flowers and green leaves on the sides of the white cover. The radio was the first decorative item in our house. I still remember my friends from school had visited us just to see the new radio. It was a beautiful radio indeed.

The two loudspeakers were on two sides of the radio, behind plastic boxes. In the middle was a large colored glass, with the wave lengths marked on it. The two knobs were there to move the needle behind the glass towards the required wave length. There used to be large valves inside, which used to take some time to get ready to work. The dim lights of these valves could be seen from sides of the front glass. It was a beautiful radio set.

Picture courtesy of Waynes Radios

By that time, I had grown up and was allowed to operate the radio independently. I loved to jump from one radio station to another, from short wave to medium wave. Listening to different languages, enjoying various types of music and songs in different languages.

That particular Philips radio remained part of our family for over the next 15 years. During these 15 years, much development in the designs and functions of radios had taken place, but my father did not buy any other radio. We all loved that one. However, with the passage of time, it had started developing technical problems. We used to get it repaired, but unfortunately a time came when  the radio mechanic told us that it was officially dead, and no more repairs could be done.  That was mid 1980s.

Our radio was given to the radio mechanic who perhaps used its parts in other radios.

It is almost 35 or more years, since my beloved radio went out of our lives, however I do still like and remember it.

3 replies »

  1. I grew up in the Interor of Guyana South America in the 40-50’s and that is the way my Father keept up with the News by the BBC world service. Good old days

    • That’s fascinating to hear MICHAEL and if you are able and willing, perhaps you may like to write a little of those experiences long ago