Remember Radio Matopos?          - 27/11/2013      <--Prev : Next-->

On a recent visit to an audiologist, I decided that being a disc jockey on Radio Matopos many years ago, might have been a part cause for my growing deafness.

Ah, but those were the days, I would not have done without them.

Radio Matopos in Bulawayo and Radio Jacaranda in Harare, what fun we used to have. The late Jimmy Robinson was in charge of ZBC Bulawayo and what a stickler he was for punctuality. One would present oneself for a shift thirty minutes before going on air and woe betide you if you dared to be a minute late!!

We used to run rings around the poor long suffering engineers, delicately dropping tiny globules of water on the long playing records to stop the scratching noises, eating in the studios, and even one new years eve, having a tiny tipple in the studio at midnight!!

What would you do if you were locked, on your own, into a tiny booth for four hours on end? Adjust the headphones, turn up the volume, sing along to the tunes, and enjoy the freedom of being a disc jockey in a sound proof booth......

Mind you, they kept a tight rein on us those gals who did the song schedules. We were not allowed to play our own choice in music; we had to adhere to a strict schedule of the antiquated selection of Long Playing Records in the record library, taped programs and adverts!! The commercials were presented on those ancient old 8 track cassettes and that cassette machine had an obdurate mind all of it's own!!

Very seldom would we dare vary from our protocols, (except to cut short Gloria Gaynor's seven minute long screeching soliloquy 'I will survive'!!!!)

In those 'good old days' we even had restricted songs that we were warned never to play. Heinous, terrible, damaging songs like Simon and Garfunkel's beautiful piece 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' which was alleged to refer to the vagaries of a drug addict. Imagine what those poor folk in the censorship department would say about some of today's hideous modern songs??

The station ran from 5 pm till midnight during the week and all day during the weekends. We were given a roster for weekday and weekend shifts and could make a tidy sum of pocket money if we cracked a couple of long weekend shifts!

There was a very strict regime in the studio, we had to follow a log very carefully. Woe betide us if we missed playing a commercial or if we dared to play a song that was not allocated by the girls in the 'record library'.

They were tartars too those gals in the offices, how well I remember earning the wrath of Delvine Allen or Jill Esof if I blotted my copybook with them. The fiercest gal in the recording studio was Cheryl Buttress, she did not mince words and would have no hesitation in stopping an interview in mid-stream if she felt you were making too many fumbles, or saying something inappropriate.

We used to play pre-recorded or 'canned' programs on two giant sized antediluvian reel-to-reel tape machines that needed a BSC in engineering to thread and splice. Most canned programs were fifteen or thirty minutes long and it was only then that we were allowed to leave our stations for a tea break or a 'comfort' break. The engineers were sticklers for studio etiquette and booked no nonsense from the errant Disc Jockeys or 'duty announcers' as we were called. It was actually quite an exacting job as on a radio station everything is logged down to the very nano-second and there was absolutely no room for error.

There were some wonderful characters on Radio Matopos - Brian Williams, Dave Emberton, Jan Smith, Fortiny Fowler, Margaret Murray and Basil Von Blomenstein. Forgive me if I have missed any out.

Basil and I got into serious hot water once when we were undertaking a dual midnight New Year's Eve shift. We were having such a grand time grooving our way to the witching hour that we neglected to play the Bata Shoe commercial that was in a preferred slot at exactly midnight. As the gals in the record library reprimanded us severely, they pointed out if would take us a whole year to make that little faux pas good!!