Friday, March 10, 2017

Sepia Saturday 358 : Radio Waves

Photography is always celebrated for its ability to "capture memories", but there is a problem for those of us involved in the memory apprehension business - memories, by definition, develop after the event, whilst photographs have to be taken whilst the event is in progress. One way around this would be the development of a "retrospective memory camera" capable of going back in time and capturing a decent large format jpeg image of something that occurred long ago; but whilst such cameras are no doubt in development in some recess of Silicon Valley, it will be well after the lifetime of my memory when they become available on Amazon Prime.  This means that we photographers are stuck with having to try and guess what might be memories in the future and capture and store them now - just in case. 

Take, for example, the radio: which is a topic I turned my attention to after a radio made an appearance in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt. Having lived most of my life in the twentieth century, radios have always been an important part of my life. I dare say that I could make a decent stab at a short autobiography entitled "My Life In Twenty Radios", because different radios have punctuated my life like a series of AM/FM punctuation marks. The only problem I would have with such an undertaking would be to find a suitable picture for the front cover.

Radios may have been central to my life, but they always tend to be peripheral to my photographs. I can think back to the first radio I became familiar with - an enormous wooden "radiogram" that could still play 78rpm records and had long-wave stations like Velthem, Munchen and Stavanger - but unfortunately my thoughts cannot rely on a supporting image.

When I became a teenager, my parents bought be a Japanese transistor radio and for many years it was my prize possession.  I would walk with it, eat with it and sleep with it: we were inseparable - whilst I fought the ravages of teenage acne, it valiantly attempting to connect with the waves emanating from Radio Luxembourg. But whilst I have endless photographs of my first girlfriends, my fathers' cars, and even the neighbours cat - I have no surviving photograph of that beloved transistor radio.

I recall later radios - wood and plastic affairs with chunky push buttons and circular dials - but if these survive in the photographic record, it is merely because they sneaked their way into a photograph by virtue of a lens that was a little too wide-angled. 

Most of all, I remember a wonderful old Bakelite radio that I bought for ten bob in a junk shop and became my constant companion whilst I was away at College and University. I was convinced that I had a photograph of that somewhere - to such an extent that I spent a couple of hours this morning going through my entire negative archives in search of it. I couldn't find it because I doubt that it exists - it is merely a photograph that, in retrospect, I wish I had taken. To see it you will have to be patient and await the development of the Retrospective Memory Camera.

To see more captured memories based on this weeks theme image go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

11 comments:

  1. I spent my earliest years listening to an old bake light radio from my mother's adolescence. I received a small transistor radio as a gift in childhood and later, from about fourteen onward had a radio built-in to my then stereo system which I listened to nightly as I was doing homework. Still rather listen to radio than watch television.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My radio was plastic with some sort of woven fabric covering the speakers, I suppose. The radio was multipurpose. It had a clock and an alarm in addition to the AM and FM stations.

    I enjoyed your memories with or without pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wish I had been able to see my grandparents' crystal radio set, but unfortunately it was long gone by the time I was born. I grew up with a couple of console radios and remember listening to the news and football games and things like "Hopalong Cassidy", "The Lone Ranger", "Roy Rogers", "Fibber McGee and Molly", "Dragnet", "The Inner Sanctum" and etc. But when most of those programs turned to television and the radio became mostly music, I turned to records so I could listen to the kind of music I enjoyed the most. The only time I listened to the radio after that was when I was somewhere where I couldn't play records - such as at the beach or sunbathing on the back patio. Even then I took my portable record player outside once on a summer day and played an LP while sunbathing. Unfortunately, the LP melted because I didn't think to keep the record player under cover instead of letting it sit out in the sun. Oh well. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember the old Bakerlite radio and listening as a child to "Children's Favourites" on a Saturday morning. My first personal radio was a tiny transistor which kept me company for many years. My first click/radio was a present from my daughter, soon after she started working and I wouldn't want to be without one now, to wake me with the morning news and send me to sleep with relaxing classics.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A retrospective memory camera would be great :). Often when looking at old photos it is the things in the background that we then took for granted that are now more interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Me too, many radios in my past. I was unusual I think, as a teen, in that I never bought records, nor played many that belonged to my little sister. She did give me some at one point, which started a collection that I played. But I preferred the radio for many choices, including the latest recordings.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I inherited a big combo record player/radio/shortwave radio when my family got a snazy new one for downstairs. This was while I was in college in the late 1960s. Before that, I remember listening to Radio Habana Cuba on the big radio downstairs in the dining room.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do like the sound of your invention Alan; let me know when its patented. I too inherited a radiogram and loved it; tweaking the dial to tune into a crackly radio statio and what a sound!

    Is that Issy? It's not captioned.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Indeed it is (circa 1969)

    ReplyDelete
  10. My life could also be measured in radios. When I moved to London in the 80s my first big purchase was a Philips AM/FM/SW digital model. I quickly became a devotee of all the varieties of BBC radio and the SW allowed me to hear voices from home. I still prefer listening to baseball on the radio rather than watching it on TV. Sadly the selection of analog SW stations is not what it used to be, so I have converted to an Internet Radio set that lets me select global stations far beyond the reach of radio signals. No static either.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great radio memories. I remember the old wooden or wood veneered radio my parents had, and enjoyed being able to twiddle with the reception at night in particular, when you seemed to be able to tune in to a lot more distant and interesting broadcasts from all over.

    ReplyDelete