Jul 12, 2011
It is thirty years ago since I wrote a rather silly parody on both international radio broadcasting based on my favorite radio series at the time, the Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. There seemed to be so much to make fun of at the time...the boring propaganda at the height of the Cold War, jamming, the waste of energy shouting from one country to another, and the variable quality of reaction from listeners. I don't think it was the listeners's fault that most of the feedback was very technical, to do with signal strength and QSL cards rather than comments on the programme. May be people were being too polite. My father would often answer the door to religious groups by apologizing that he couldn't continue the conversation because we were "drisopholia"in this house. It was years later that I looked it up and understood the wry smile on his face as he closed the door. It seems like an excellent name for a character in this fantasy visit to Radio Politzania, the place where all shortwave signals really come from.
There wasn't much time to write radio drama on the second floor of the Radio Netherlands building. And there was no budget to hire actors. So I just rattled it off on a typewriter and asked colleagues to come and read their parts in a lunchtime recording session. This was all two track material, sliced together with a chinagraph pencil and a razor blade. In total we made 5 in 1981 to fit the 5th Thursday in the month, and then one more in 1982 as a Christmas special.
Listening to it now, I find it strange that we managed to predict Freeview, that all the DX programmes would be gone by 2022, and that flash memory would replace tape. It is great hearing the voices of Pete Myers, Harry Kliphuis, Neville Gray, who are sadly no longer with us. But there are plenty of people who went off to do great things elsewhere. Ian de Staines went to Tokyo to become Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce, responsible for public affairs, Roger Broadbent climbed the ranks in Melbourne with Radio Australia, Bob Chaundy went back to the UK and specialised in writing detailed obituaries for the BBC and Guardian, Mike Bullen, co-presenter of AsiaScan later wrote the comedy series Cold Feet, and so the list goes on.
Listen to this for what it was. A bit of fun in the studio when times were very different to now. The series was repeated in 1984 by request. I have also had comments to this archive asking me to put them on line. So, they will all go up one by one in sequence.