Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Foreign radio broadcasts

Waking up at six o'clock in the morning means that the house is very quiet when I creep downstairs for my daily morning cleaning up routine. But lately, I've been using my old ipad2 (yes! I'm still using this old derelict despite technology having whizzed forward at tremendous paces!) to tune in to foreign radio stations.

My TuneIn Radio app on the ipad2 is still one of my favourite applications. With it, foreign radio stations which would have been impossible to listen in to are now streaming clearly and effortlessly into my home with just a wireless broadband connection. So close to home.

When I was still in primary school some 50 years ago, every morning my mother would be waking up early to begin her house work and prepare me for school. She used to listen to the radio too.

She used a mere transister radio in those days. This very same model that you see above: the Hitachi WH-817. Nothing fanciful about this radio. She was always tuning in to the Radio Malaya and later, Radio Malaysia, English language station in the mornings. Very softly, if I may add, because the kitchen was just next to my grandparents' room on the ground floor.

This transister radio had only three options - a medium wave option and two shortwave bands - which could be selected with the big lever on the front of the radio. Tuning was by means of a wheel dial on the right side of the radio with another dial next to it to provide finer tuning. And when a station was picked up, the small indicator needle on the front face would swing to the right. The volume dial was on the left side. Oh yes, the Hitachi had also thoughtfully featured a small dial lamp to assist using dialing in the dark. On top of the radio was a retractable telescope antenna.

So my mum would listen very softly to the Radio Malaya station. And I remember the type of music. The station played all very slow and soothing stuff at that time in the morning. As if there was a reluctance for anything else. As if the announcers were also afraid to disturb the sleeping.It was enough to lull me to sleep again, if I wasn't having to go to school!

When I was older, I hijacked this radio whenever I could after I had discovered the joy of tuning in to the Radio RAAF Butterworth. This wondrous community radio station was broadcast by volunteer soldiers and their families from the Royal Australian Air Force base in Butterworth. The RRB station was broadcasting on 1445kHz and that was at the extreme right end of the medium wave band of this transister radio. I remember too that on good days when the weather conditions were good enough, pushing the tuning dial further to the end would enable me to receive the crackly Voice of America re-broadcasts from faraway Saigon.

I never bothered myself with the shortwave bands on this Hitachi until very much later when the BBC World Service and Radio Australia (Radio Australia's cricket commentaries were second to none) caught my attention. Curious mind, you see. But once I caught this radio bug, life was never the same for me again. And that's why today, I'm using the ipad2 to re-live my past hobby. Foreign radio stations, yeah!

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