Friday, August 16, 2019

Thinking Radio

Yesterday, I was at the 2nd. International Student Radio Conference - Alternatives 2019 - at Jesus College, Cambridge.  Those readers who know of our son Robert's work with student radio will guess that Carol and I were both there in the bonds of parental relationship!   Following up from our Golden Wedding at the college this time last year, Rob resolved to organize this radio conference at the college too.  It's been very hard work - representatives have come from all over the world and trying to bring the admin. and content together has involved Rob and Lori sleepless nights and the rest.   But it has launched with a very good spirit though many attendees were delayed.

Rob asked me as a former student of Jesus College to welcome them with a word about the city and the college.  I began by mentioning that Cambridge is statistically in the driest part of the UK.  Guffaws echoed round the room since it had rained heavily all day and wet weather is set to continue through the rest of their stay.  Oh, blame the shifted jet stream!

It is easy to overwhelm with welcome facts but I knew I had to communicate the thrill of staying in a place of such history.  You never know who studied in your room in the generations before!  Because it was a radio conference I had to tell them about former student Alistair Cooke who emigrated to the US.  In 1946 he was commissioned to give 13 weekly radio sessions which became 'Letter from America'. After only a few weeks the BBC knew they were onto a winner.   He continued giving weekly 15 minute talks....well, for how long?  I asked them to guess.  No one got it!  Until 2004!  He had broadcast for 58 years without a gap - a world radio speech record.

Earlier, before the conference started, at a coffee morning I had asked the group of older friends we meet with how many remembered Letter from America.  Everyone round the table did!  With animation one after another told of episodes they remembered - like his eyewitness to the shooting of Robert Kennedy.  Yes, radio connects.  I hope the conference inspires many.

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