“What happened to Hilversham”

In the golden days when I still understood technology, I could always tune my radio into Hilversham just by turning the dial and moving the little line up to the word “Hilversham” and there it was.  Of course I never did, I assumed it was some foreign station, but at least I knew how to avoid it.  What I could do was tune to Radio 1 or 2 for music, Radio 4 for the news and Radio Luxembourg or Radio Caroline for pop records.

In my continuing theme of the widening technology gap leaving the elderly behind, I now turn my blogging attention to digital radios.  (For earlier blogs on this subject, click on “TECHNOLOGY GAP” in the TAG CLOUD).

The radio in my car is one of the very latest digital thing-a-me-jigs.  When I bought the car, the garage had pre-set it for me to the few simple stations I had asked for.  You know how it goes – button 1 for Radio 1 for music; button 2 for Radio 2 for talk; button 4 for Radio 4 for news and OOPS – Radio Luxembourg must have joined the European Union and Radio Caroline sank years ago.  So buttons 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 I don’t need.  The good news continues.  Along with the volume control dial I also have balance, treble and bass adjustments for the four surround sound speakers.  I am driving around in my own mobile ghetto blaster.  On a good day they can hear me in Edinburgh and my neighbours won’t even need to buy a radio :-).  Of course I have to leave the car windows down otherwise everyone won’t get the full benefit of surround sound, they will just hear the thump, thump, thump of the 40 watt bass speakers as I drive by.

All was going well until one day I was driving along concentrating on the road, when I remembered there was a test match on.  So not taking my eyes off the road, I reached down and turned the radio on and pressed button 4 for Test Match Special.  Sadly nothing is that simple anymore :-(.  That institution of cricket fans the world over has been moved by the BBC from Radio 4 to Five Live or Talk Sport or somewhere lost in the ether.  Why didn’t they switch it to “Hilversham”?  I could always find that!

In the middle of winter when there was no cricket, it somehow slipped my mind to tell the garage to tune the radio to Test Match Special.  So it must be my fault :-(.

I pull into a service station, park up and look for the manual.  This radio is so special I have a 200-page user guide all of its own.  None of it is particularly helpful or even comprehensible – there is not even a mention of Test Match Special in the fifteen page index.  I make a note to do an evening class in radio engineering when I get home so that I can tune in my radio all by myself.

Meanwhile I resort to the usual male answer to instruction manuals.  I put it back in the glove compartment and start fiddling with the radio buttons and dials.  Eventually after only half an hour of scanning 50 local radio stations and listening to 50 Mrs Smith’s ringing in for advice about her bunions, I miraculously catch the instantly recognisable voice of Geoffrey Boycott 😦 Unfortunately by this time England are already three wickets down :-(.

Successfully tuned in I am able to restart my journey.  Everything is going fine.  The talk of cricket and cake has a calming influence even if England are off to a bad start.  Then five overs later the station switches automatically to the shipping forecast :-(.  I am puzzled because I am nowhere near the sea.  Five minutes later this truculent radio switches back to TMS only for me to learn that England have lost another wicket.  Maybe the fog on Dogger Bank obscured the batsman’s vision.

10 miles further up the road and England have steadied the ship and the opening batsman is approaching a century.  The fielders are closing in around the bat, the crowd are hushed, the fast bowler runs up and ——my radio switches to “traffic information”.  I certainly need to know there is an accident on the M4 at this critical moment.  By the time it switches back, the applause has died down from which I deduce either the batsman has scored his hundred or he is out to a spectacular catch.

And they say technology is moving into the information age.

What happened to Radio Hilversham?

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One Response to “What happened to Hilversham”

  1. This reminds me of My Pye Sailors radio, with all the LW MW SW and all powered by mains or battiers(Dry Cell). This was part of my accutriments as a seaman, and my personal luggage. We could hear the Light Programme on MW at between 24-0600 hoiurs off Cyrprus as we progressed on the tanker to load oil in the middle east at Sidon or Tripoli in Syria/Lebonon. Great memories. Another programme was the one for merchant seamen on the SW BBC Worldwide programme for 1/2 hour at 16.00 and was usually at full blast in our quarters for us to hear all the scottish tunes played for the benifit of our colonial cousins, and the repeat programme on a sunday? ( Andy Stewart and a few more such as Jimmy shad and his accordian band, plus another scottish singer who would sing the miles and the road to dundee? Etc.) Brought up as a rouge yorkshire man, I never worried about Boycott and Yorkshire or England so interuptions on the car radio where a welcome relief. However when I am listening to a CD of the Black Dyke Mills Brass band and one is interupted by the traffic news, I often wonder a blast on a trumpet, blowing a raspberry or two.
    My favourite at sea and saiing to and from the Ariabian Gulf or waiting to load cargo in the Gulf, I all ways appriciated the ‘VOICE OF THE DESERT’ radio station-a version of Radio Luxenberg with not a single interuption between records for a solid 24 hours, and an image of some arab somewhere on a bicycle cycling home, or riding a camel into the sunset, for his meal breaks, between each record which was achieved seamlessly.
    Memories, Memories Hilversham, long gone I suspect with LW Rugby Radio Station. And I must not forget the dulcet tones of Voice of America on SW broadcast form Frankfurt? or some other miltray Base in Western Germany. This was not on the dial, but couuld be found quite easily as it broadcast on many wave lengths??? I believe, again if memmory serves me right.

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