Radio Matopos          - 3/5/2017      <--Prev : Next-->

It must be my advancing years that keeps taking me back to my youth!!

Listening to a Country and Western radio station in the car yesterday, I remembered clearly the days of Radio Matopos and Radio Jacaranda. Radio Matopos fed to the Bulawayo area and Radio Jacaranda fed to the Harare residents.

The stations opened at 5.00 pm on a weekday until ten or eleven o'clock at night, and during the weekend they played pretty much all day.

I was working as PA for James thrush in those days which is how I landed a plum spot on Matopos. We had to be at the station half an hour before our four hour shift commenced and woe betide you if you were late - instant suspension!!

Names you might remember were D.J's - Fortiny Fowler, Jan Smith, Brian Williams, Dave Emberton, Margaret Murray and Brian Williams

Then of course there was Basil Von Blomenstein who was as diligent as he was mischievous; we once did a New Year's eve midnight shift in tandem and totally neglected to play a very important Bata commercial at midnight. (it could not have possibly been something to do with the hooch in the coffee), but we had a lot of explaining to do...

The studio was the size of a matchbox, just enough for a single chair on wheels, the control desk, a tiny pocket hanky sized interview desk, three turntables for the Long Playing and Seven Single records, and two massive reel to reel tape recorders that required an astonishing amount of grey matter to operate.

The were so old and scratched that we were forced to trickle a tiny bit of water over the needles to deaden the stratchy sound. The Engineers were horrified when the caught us doing that and we were in bad odor...

There was something rather special, if one relished one's own solitude, in turning the volume up loud, donning the enormous padded headphones, and grooving away to the melody feeling that there was noone else in the world apart from you.

The Control desks or consoles, in those days were positively antediluvian, giant levers one would push up and down to bring in the sound and fade it out again. We were given detailed log sheets of what music to play, by the girls in the record libraries, they were sticklers and would notice immediately if you played your own favorite track from an album.

We would pipe in the news on the hour from the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation news site, play the commercials on a giant eight track tape stack, we were allowed a flask of coffee and some sandwiches with had to be eaten away from the console, and a four or five hour shift would fly by.

Such sadness when the two stations were stopped around Independence but I was left with a 'delightful' legacy - acute deafness thanks to playing the music so loud through the headphones!!!