30 Aug 2015

Spectrum's Life and Times (Part 1 of 2)

From Spectrum, 12:10 pm on 30 August 2015

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