On a cold Christmas Day in Ohio USA in 1970, I received a Christmas Gift. The gift was a shortwave radio manufactured by the electronics giant Panasonic. My pet dog was next to me as I opened the package and saw the radio. I decided to look at the instructions manual and turn on the radio. The first station that appeared on the air was the BBC World Service and it was broadcasting a Christmas programme. I loved every minute of the BBC Programme. Of course, I was an eight year old boy but many people including little boys knew about radio and those who were into shortwave were able to appreciate the BBC. Since then, I have listened to the BBC within its many spheres.
Around the same time that I was listening to the BBC World Service for the first time in Christmas 1970, PBS which is the Public Television Station in the USA started airing episodes of two comedy programmes from Great Britain. The two programmes were The Goodies and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Afterwards, the comedy in the USA especially in a tightly controlled state such as Ohio was never the same. I could still remember laughing at the antics of the Goodies especially Bill Oddie. The comedy actually started pushing the envelope of local TV.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was even funnier and mad me laugh. The authorities in Ohio attempted to ban Monty Python’s Flying Circus but the free speech issue prevented it. Anyway, people would use their tape recorder and record the episode for their private use.
People would also gather for underground Monty Python Parties in which the sketches and comedy was discussed. The presence of “The Goodies” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” occurred at the age of eight going on nine.
Iranian Students take members of the US Embassy Hostage in 1979. I was in Valencia, Edo. Carabobo Venezuela listening to the BBC and the unfolding drama that was forming at that time. There were people around me listening to the BBC and having moments of anger. This was in the school.
During Christmas Vacation 1979 in Caracas, Venezuela; I was with some friends from the Colegio Internacional Caracas. One night around late December, one of my friends who was an Austrian National turned on her shortwave radio. It was the BBC announcing that the USSR had invaded Afghanistan and replaced Hafizullah Amin with Babrak Karmal. Since my hobby was DXing, I found a paper and pen and started writing a reception report. Afterwards, we heard the same news on Radio Tashkent [USSR Now Uzbekistan]. I wrote another reception report for Radio Tashkent. The next day, the reports were mailed but I could not stop thinking about the carnage that followed the invasion.
I was listening to the events of Grenada in 1983 on the BBC. What transpired was that I was studying Medicine. At the same time that Grenada was unravelling, there were talks of and there was an attempted coup in the Dominican Republic. I was with my friends and everyone had their shortwave radios tuned to the BBC. I was in a room with my girlfriend at that time with both of us listening to the BBC. In addition to the shortwave radios, some of our friends in the house [about 20 people in one house] were ready to board five miniature trucks to go to the sea and navigate the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico. The only thing we had to do was leave everything we had except our documents proving that we were US Citizens. We were all US Citizens studying in the Dominican Republic in Dentistry, and Medicine. This was not necessary since the attempted coup [or rumours of it] dissolved with the US invading Grenada.
I was listening to the Bundesliga on Deutsche Welle when the signal left. I heard screaming and people shouting. I switched to the BBC and found out that the President of Rwanda and Burundi had been killed in a plane crash which leads to a killing spree. My deduction was that Deutsche Welle was transmitting from their antennae in Kigali Rwanda which explains the screams. For the next two months, I was able to hear the BBC on my shortwave the events that became one of the worst acts of genocide in the 20th Century [next to Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge]. I was left numb on how humans can be cruel to one another.
After the genocide reports stopped, I went ahead and listened to the First World Cup in the USA in 1994. I was saddened by the death of the Colombian Player who scored an own goal for the USA. England also proved itself in the World Cup. It was nice hearing the World Cup since I am an avid football fan. For me, it did not matter who won the World Cup. It was better to hear football as a way to recover from the Rwanda Genocide.
Around 1997, the BBC World Service was no longer on shortwave radio even though I still listen to it. The BBC in Spanish announced that they will no longer broadcast via shortwave. I was afraid that I would no longer listen to the BBC. On Father’s Day 1997, my wife gave me the Internet service. One of the first stations that I managed to visit was BBC Scotland. I also listened to its station. This was the first time that I managed to listen to the BBC including BBC Scotland on the internet. It was a great feeling even though I think shortwave service complimented the internet. The programme I heard was a sports programme followed by a traditional Celtic one. It was my first exposure to BBC Scotland and local BBC Programmes since my visit to London in 1987.
Hurricane Katrina swept through the Miami Area leaving Anarchy, Downed Power Lines, and lack of amenable goods. I was able to hear the BBC on my Shortwave Radio since Computers were not functioning. After a few minutes, I slept. My wife Marlene woke me up to tell me that my Aunt died because of lack of amenities [she was on an artificial respirator]. She also told me that the BBC in Manchester wanted to talk with me. Michelle Daniels and BBC Manchester were the first human beings outside of my house to call me. It was something that I will never forget especially with the anarchy surrounding Miami Florida.
Within the months, there were lines for Internet Cafes and I was able to appreciate listening [at least for ten minutes] BBC Asian Network and Sonia Deol. Her voice had a calming effect on this BBC Listener especially when there was no petrol, no food, no traffic lights, and no semblance of government
Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma struck Florida again with the same results. BBC Radio Leeds and BBC Radio Sheffield called this loyal listener and it was great to hear from them especially Alex Hall. BBC Radio Cornwall called and people like Alex Full, Naomi Rowe, and other announcers also provided tranquillity in the storm. My thanks to the BBC especially BBC Manchester [Michelle Daniels, Jack Dearden], BBC Radio Cornwall [Alex Full, Naomi Rowe], BBC Radio Leeds [Alex Hall], and BBC Asian Network [Sonia Deol, Anita Rani, and Rozina Sini] for your support and solidarity in these trying times.
At the end of US Election Day 2008, many people decided to watch the results on their TV Sets. I decided to listen to the BBC on the internet since they had superior coverage compared to some of the media in America.
I remember turning on the computer, going to the internet, and turning on the Windows Media Player and Real Player for the live coverage. I could remember seeing the states either lighting up blue or red in the BBC before it did with the major US Networks.
While there was a lot of joy and happiness with the victory as well as celebrations in the streets, the BBC started showing people in Chicago Illinois celebrating the victory of Obama.
It was great to be with the BBC as the USA turned away at least for the time away from race and ethnicity to elect the first African American President. Whether he succeeds or not, the BBC was the first station to have addressed this moment of history.