Starting next week Norway, a country famous for regularly achieving “null points” at Eurovision, ranting racist (but with very good knowledge of UK history) football commentators and introducing the world to the word “Quisling” is to start switching off its country’s FM radio signal.
I am sure there will be many Norwegians from Oslo to Narvik who may not possess a digital radio. There may be many inhabitants of Hammerfest who only own transistor radios; their only form of entertainment from next week could well end up being “pin the tail on the herring”.
This move to digital-only radio will also happen in the UK and I’m reminded of the joy different forms of radio has given me over the years as well as increasing my myopia.
The block of flats in Balham where I used to live had, when it was first built in 1936, radios installed into every flat. They would play the Light Service (this had programmes with a lot of people saying “can I do you now, sir?”; the Home Service – mainly news read by virtually anyone except William Joyce and the Third Programme which cheered everyone up during the war years playing mostly Mahler.
By the 60s most of the radios hardly worked. In my Nan’s flat it still worked but you had to go inside a cupboard in which it was housed. I spent many hours inside this cupboard listening to programmes such as “I’m sorry I’ll read that again” and deciding which Mahler symphony I liked the least. As well as the radio, also inside my Nan’s cupboard lay the central heating system; it was very hot inside the cupboard. I remember after 30 minutes of “The Clitheroe Kid” I’d lost half a stone. After the radio stopped working my Nan would hire out the cupboard to apprentice jockeys hopeful of a ride at Epsom.
I also had a transistor radio and would listen under my covers to the Top 30 on Radio Luxembourg; under torchlight I would write down the charts as they were played. This is something I’ve never admitted to my optician – or psychiatrist.
I remember listening to a lot of sport on medium wave; Police activity on short wave (always handy when living so close to HMP Wandsworth) and long wave with my ear very close to the in-car speaker to Test Match cricket when not in the country, but you could see it from France.
I will bemoan the move to purely digital, but first it will be manifold Norwegians who will no longer be able to tune in to “De Bueskytter – the everyday story of fiord folk”