Advances in radio wave reception technology on the Isle of Wight have opened up a whole new world to its residents. ‘We’ve had plug-in wirelesses for some years,’ said local man Paul Leblanc (74), ‘but to discover there’s more to it than just pop and hiss is an unexpected bonus.’
The gradual introduction of antennae is only part of the story. The revolution in radio-listening on the island is largely thanks to the recent successful launch of the Radio Times there. The weekly black-and-white sheet not only lists the available programmes but, more importantly, explains how to ‘tune in to the radio signal for improved clarity of reception’, plus advice on using the volume knob and other helpful tips for listeners with hearing problems.
‘I couldn’t believe my ears,’ said Paul Leblanc, ‘I turned the dial to 1500 metres long wave and heard the shipping forecast followed by the pips and God Save the King.’
But some media analysts on the island tell a different story, having so far only received a faint voice saying ‘testing, testing, this is Crystal Palace calling’ and a ‘very crackly broadcast of someone shouting frantically in German.’
‘Obviously the technology has some catching up to do,’ admits local aerial salesman Jacques Montmartre, ‘with some of the older antennae only just beginning to receive signals that left London in the 1930s, taking the best part of a generation to reach the island.’
But Paul Leblanc says he remains optimistic there will be a day when the signal finally comes through and he can listen to the live broadcast of Elizabeth II’s Coronation, ‘if the valve lasts that long.’