Small beginnings (2)

One can start a lifetime's career in the smallest ways. In 1952 my parents bought our first gramophone which would play the new long-playing records (the first ones only appeared in the UK in 1950): it was the Decca 'Deccalian' (picture, right). I saved up my pennies and very slowly bought a few LPs.

One of my schoolfriends was called David Baird (when we met he said to me 'Think of television and you'lll know', but as I'd never heard of John Logie Baird or the make of TV sets I was none the wiser). Anyway, Dave heard our gramophone, and said 'What you need is an external speaker, it would sound much better' (and certainly the sound needed improvement).

My father offered to build me a speaker - he was thinking of the sort of small extension speaker one used to use to listen to your one radio set in another room. However, I went to the library and came back with Gilbert Briggs's seminal book on loudspeakers. The end result was a large, waist-high, bass-reflex enclosure with a 10" Wharfedale 'Stentorian' speaker in it - an unfortunate name, and all too accurate (picture, left - complete with a tweeter in a cardboard box on top). The sound was certainly an improvement. All this sparked an interest in hifi and recording, which led me to decide I wanted to be a 'recording engineer' (meaning a sound mixer). I actually had an interview at EMI, but they weren't hiring mixers (this was before the pop boom, and the big companies only needed a couple of audio men).

So in the end I went the the BBC in 1961 as a Technical Operator (largely because they would take me on one 'A' level), later becoming a Studio Manager - sound mixing at last, even if it was mostly news programmes in assorted foreign languages. But I did do quite a few music balances - mostly assorted ethnic groups (including a Ghurkha pop group, would you believe) - as well as lots of news programmes - and the 1990 phone in with Margaret Thatcher (see my earlier post). I worked there until I took early retirement in 1995, and I still do the odd day as a casual - 45 years on from joining.

And it's all Dave Baird's fault.

Posted: Thu - May 10, 2007 at 08:48 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM