“Just to hear the sound of someone from our mixed-race culture on radio”

South Africa was one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people in 1976 – 40 years after pioneers like UK or Germany and even 20 years after Finland. The reasons for the delay seem entirely crazy. Then again, they are very much in line with the apartheid era. However, from radio’s perspective the late introduction of television bears great stories and memories.

Photographer Mike Abrahams, a colleague of ours from Westbury Youth Centre, lived his childhood in the 70’s Johannesburg. In his memories radio was the top, the only, the most exciting entertainment media available. The stories cling to many European memories from the 50’s. So, what was the place and role of radio in a coloured boy’s life in the 70’s Joburg? What happened when TV came? How did radio change? Did it vanish? Way no. Something much better was to come, even under the apartheid rule.

Photo: Mike Abrahams michaelabrahamsfot.wix.com/michaelabrahamsfoto

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The clips from the topmost legendary South African Radio Drama, Squad Cars, are a courtesy of Sonovision Studios and SABC.

The clip from the Kofifi FM broadcast on the 19th of November 2014 at 11h30, as well as the jingles framing it, are attached to the interview with the permission of Kofifi FM. Thank you for cooperation, Kofifi CEO Joseph Cotty and sound engineer Ralton Seegels.

More info on the legendary Squad Cars is available e.g. in the abundant Internet Archive. Enjoy!

For a more detailed analysis on South Africa pushing the introduction of TV till 1976 check e.g. Bernard Cros’ article in ORACLE.

For stories of the first decades of South African TV check e.g. Carin Bevan’s free thesis.

Mike Abrahams

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