My skills are fine - never better - but my energy levels are way down. That’s what age does to you, so it’s time to go. - Jack Perkins
After 56 year in public radio – 43 of them producing the programme Spectrum – Jack Perkins has hung up his microphones.
Alwyn (Hop) Owen and Jack began Spectrum in 1972. The much improved portable tape recorders that had become available in the 1960s released producers from the confines of the studio to seek stories from all corners of the country.
Hop and Jack, who were privileged to be in on the ground floor of this new form of radio, established Spectrum, whose brief was to record human interest stories to balance against news and current affairs programmes.
It wasn’t long before the Spectrum team realised that a very rich seam lay exposed, ready to be mined. Life and work on the gum fields and in the bush, the kauri industry, the first World War, depression years of the 1930s, the Second World War – the men and women who had lived through these times and events were ready and willing to tell their stories and Spectrum was eager to record them.
Hearing ordinary Kiwis on the airwaves helped to de-centralise and democratise radio. In a very real sense, the portable recorder took radio to the people and imbued their voices and stories with an authenticity and veracity undiluted by transcription or reportage.
To mark the end of his long career, Jack chats with Spectrum co-founder and colleague Hop about Spectrum’s life and times.
Gallery: Just a few of the team of Spectrum producers over the years
Listen to some of the original Spectrums referred to in this programme
1 Apr 1973
A satirical recreation by Alwyn Owen of the good old Kiwi wedding. Narrated by Bill Toft. Audio
Spectrum's microphones travelled Wellington's streets for several weeks to capture this evocation in sound. Audio
A nostalgic tribute to that most humble and human New Zealand institution, the dunny. The long-drop, the three-holer, the users, the emptiers, the designers, and, of course, the good-old night-cart… Audio
Compiled from official sources combined with eye-witness accounts, some previously untapped, this is a graphic reconstruction of New Zealand`s most famous manhunt in 1941, produced by Jack Perkins. Audio
An amazing document has been 'discovered' in one of our research libraries by the Spectrum team. In Queen Victoria's own handwriting, it details how she visited this country incognito in 1882… Audio
1 Nov 1982
Elsa Davis was Melbourne's unofficial Poet Laureate, and composer extraordinary. With enthusiasm and devotion, she chronicles events in song. She talks to Alwyn Owen, and demonstrates her talent… Audio
His years as overseer of the Nelson tip have brought Jim Hargreaves into contact with all kinds of people and their rubbish. Jack Perkins joins Jim during a busy Saturday morning down at the dump. Audio
Bernie Chaney tells Jack Perkins about deer culling in 1948 and breeding long legged dogs for hunting deer. Audio