Nostalgia and excitement meet on World Radio Day


14-February-2013

A pupil sends greetings live on air as her colleagues keenly watch SBC team members at work

Excited young people – mainly pupils and students – said they went to see today’s radio announcers and the tools they use, as the SBC hosted an exhibition to mark World Radio Day.

Our journalist – who is in his 50s – found himself with the group of retired citizens keenly watching an obsolete turntable spinning a 33.3 revolutions per minute “long playing – (LP)” record as technicians next door showed other people how tapes used to be literally cut with razor blades to edit a recording.

Both technologies have since been replaced by compact discs, pen drives and micro cassettes.
Sadly for the senior visitors, the LP was too well maintained and the stylus did not jump as the record went round and round the way those warped by exposure to extreme heat used to.

“I came to see how things work at the SBC,” said La Rosière pupil Andrian Belle, looking at the modern equipment and showing keen interest as announcers spoke live on radio and invited exhibition visitors to take part and send greetings.

But retired head teacher Jeanne Etienne said the exhibition reminded her how things used to be in the 1960s, adding like our reporter she also used to own a gramophone but now uses a modern stereo system “with CDs and pen drives”.

SBC announcer Karin Belmont showing senior citizens pictures of her predecessors at the radio station (photo by G.T.)

Impressed with the high number of people who turned up, SBC chief executive Antoine Onezime was heard saying, “Oh, there are so many people I wish we had more space to display more things”.

He showed Nation the old and the new equipment explaining the change was gradual:
“In the past when we went for interviews we recorded on reel tapes and later we got smaller versions which nevertheless had to be cut during editing like the previous bigger ones. We would remove a section then join them with cello tape. If you discarded a key part then you’d have to go looking for it in the waste paper basket.

“Later we moved to digital recorders which were still a bit big and offered no editing options. They just played out,” he said, adding eventually there were even smaller recorders in the 1980s and since the early 2000s came the versions which now allow editing on computer where a reporter does not have to listen to an entire recording in real time.
He showed how you select a part, highlight and simply delete unneeded sections.

Mr Onezime said the new technology allows the SBC to go on air almost immediately an event is over.
Regarding live broadcasts, he said speakers are heard on radio as they speak, with an only 10 second delay which allows reporters and technicians to watch out for inappropriate statements, interrupting unhealthy sections and playing music instead.

They have to be very alert because 10 seconds is not a long time, he said.
Radio Day is marked all over the world and is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of radio and the access to information it gives.

A girl (right) tries to understand how the contraption called gramophone used to work as a lady visitor (left) views a recorder which has now been replaced by digital one the size of a mobile phone

The day also helps promote networking among broadcasters.
The radio has to be recognised as a low cost medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people: the illiterate, the disabled, women, youth and the poor, while offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. 

Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.
There is also a changing face to radio services which, in the present times of media convergence, are taking up new technological forms, such as broadband, mobiles and tablets.  However, it is said that up to a billion people still do not have access to radio today.

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