LM Radio - Chris's Story
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My Story  -  Chris Turner

It all started in 1956 at the age of 4. My father had an Ecko 5 valve short wave radio that he had brought out from England with him. I would sit with my ear glued to the speaker as he would tune into stations from abroad, like BBC World Service from London, Voice of America, Radio Netherlands and LM Radio from Lourenco Marques in Mocambique. I was hooked! I built my first radio at the age of 8 from parts that my Dad had brought from abroad. It was a 1 valve (tube) regenerative receiver using a 1T4 with a 45 volt HT battery and 1.5 volt filament battery. The coils were English made plug-in Denco coils covering all the short wave bands and the tuning condensor was a Jackson's with a slow motion drive and home made frequency dial.

The author - aged 8
with first home brew receiver

I would spend every spare moment at school lunch-break and after school at the radio shop across the road from school. The shop was run by a Mr Nel who worked in the most cluttered workshop I have ever seen. There were bits of radio everywhere - but he knew exactly what he had and what radio belonged to whom. I would spend hours just asking questions and talking. He must have had the patience of a saint because he never tired of talking to me or teaching me what he knew. Within a few months I was faultfinding & repairing radios and by the age of about 11 he gave me sets to take home and repair. He said his eyes were not good enough nor his hands steady enough to repair these new fangled transistor radios. All I had for test gear was a multi-meter, soldering iron a signal injector.

I started seriously building all sorts of gear by the age of 10. Mr Nel would give me old scrap radios which I would haul home starting with a 3 mile bus journey, 10 mile mile train trip and then a mile walk home. My younger brother Rob was roped in by me to carry my school bag while I carried the radio junk as my mum called it. I can only imagine how fed up he must have been.

My first radio station
I built my first radio station when I was about 11. It consisted of a 4 channel mixer made in a wooden box with 4 pots for faders, 4 switches and a VU meter which came from a scrap tape recorder. The input amplifiers were 12AX7 (ECC83) twin triodes. I had a Garrard turntable, my dad's Philips 2 track reel-to-reel tape recorder, microphone and a short wave receiver. The output of the mixer fed an audio amplifier which used a pair of 6V6s, 6SN7 twin triode and 5U4 rectifier. My little studio was in the bedroom and was connected to a speaker in the living room where I entertained the family.

Transmitting for real
I had two friends who were interested in radio too. Brian van Zyl, who lived down the road and I built several transmitters from Practical Wireless which we used to talk to each other. These were only a few watts. My other friend was Peter Gibbons. Peter lived on the hillside about a mile from me and he was into high power audio and KT88 amplifiers etc. He built a high 50 Watt transmitter with an 807 output valve and an audio amp for modulator. I copied his design and went on air with my little studio. By this time I was 13 or 14 years old and would broadcast programmes across the whole Fish Hoek valley where we lived. When not broadcasting my own programmes, I would relay LM Radio so that all young people in Fish Hoek could listen.



Becoming a Radio Amateur (HAM)
I had been on air for more than a year when a local radio ham reported me for transmitting illegally and my dad was summonsed to visit the radio inspector - Mr Fairley.  I was taken off air for a while but the bug had bitten and I was back on the air over the next long school holidays. There was a second summons from the radio inspector who gave me an ultimatum. Shut down the pirate operations and study for my Amateur Radio licence - or else!. I worked hard at it, and in less than a year I had passed the technical exam and then my 12 words per minute Morse code test and earned the callsign ZS1CG. I subsequently moved to the UK where I obtained the call G4HKP and in South Africa I am still licensed as ZS6GM.

My foray into professional broadcasting
I always wanted to be on the radio. My hero was Darryl Jooste of LM Radio, though I also really liked both John Berks and Gary Edwards. I auditioned at the SABC in Cape Town and was told that I had a good voice and potential but they only needed announcers for the bilingual Radio Good Hope and that my Afrikaans was not of the required standard. Had I live in Jo'burg I would have been at the LM Radio studios every free moment, and I'm pretty sure I would have joined the ranks of the famous broadcasters. When not listening to LM I would tune into the Springbok Radio serials and Radio Theatre. I must have listened to and taped every Goon Show ever broadcast.

Capital Radio Transkei
I would record and broadcast amateur radio news bulletins every third Sunday of the month. Dave Simons of Capital Radio 604 heard me one day and introduced me to his producer at the radio station. I recorded a number of promos, and read advertisements for the station and Camel Cigarettes. I subsequently worked on the breakfast programme on a local station in Johannesburg and did some voice work for Radio Christian Voice in Zambia.

Most recently I researched, compiled, recorded and produced a six part radio documentary recounting the history of LM Radio for Radio Today in Johannesburg to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the demise of LM. A shortened version of the documentary can found on the Sounds page of this website.

My Mission
Is to revive radio as it was in the 60s and 70s where announcers talked to their audience and not to each other. To bring back theatre of the mind through radio drama and comedy. To entertain the over 50s whose music and tastes are ignored in the modern world. The over 50s probably have more disposable income than the younger generation. How do we convince advertisers to attract our generation and support commercial radio?

If you are like minded I would love to hear from you. Please write to me with your support and add your voice to mine.

Chris (at) lmradio.org







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©2004 -2009 Chris Turner