BBC World Service sold shortwaves in BC
Jack Dubberley, of Dubberley's Electronics in Vancouver, heard Laura Lynch's Feb 3 essay on the recent cutbacks to the BBC's World Service, and writes...
HI Rick, You asked about stories of "how BBC World Service affected you." Our family had a retail electronics store in downtown Vancouver for over 50 years called Dubberley's on Davie. One of our specialty products we sold were shortwave receivers. BBC was always the easiest station to bring in at most times of the day and the best example of sharing the romance of listing to radio.
Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s every time there was a major international incident the BBC World Service was the go to place for neutral version of the news. When the Korean airliner was shot down the US Armed Forces Radio were saying "those no good Ruskies"... Radio Moscow were airing (believe it or not) the sounds of song birds and made no mention of any skirmish ... but the BBC said "it appears that a Korean airliner is missing and reports are that it was shot down by the Russian military over Russian air space.
My best story is... One day a man came into the store looking at a very expensive shortwave radio. His clothing looked quite out of place. Stereotypically wearing a quilted blue cotton oriental style jacket and Mao type cap. Making a preconceived expectation of his country of origin as China and after exchanging opening sales type pleasantries, he replied in amazingly impeccable English that he wanted to listen to the BBC World Service.
Because of his scope of English I continued talking with Canadian slang as I would with any normal Canadian customer. I could see that my conversation wasn't getting to far so, I took the risky plunge and asked how long he'd been living in Vancouver.
His response floored me! He said that he arrived from China the previous week. "Your English is fantastic... how come?" His face lit up and proudly said that he had learned English from listening to daily English lessons on BBC World Service since he was a kid, pardon me... a child.
His English was the Queen's English and that's why he didn't understand my Canadian slang. We continued our chat for about an hour; he bought the radio that he lusted after for many years but couldn't get in China and I will never forget his impact on me.
The latest BBC World service cuts are not the first. More than 15 years ago BBC stopped service to North America and other places in the world as they deemed to have adequate new services sighting not enough listenership.
From the number of people we sold radios to over the many years in our business, I would disagree. It's like the cart before the horse story... no radio stations, no radios needed any more, the companies stop making them, no more people to buy them, no more store to sell them.
I read the BBC home page every morning but did BBC World Service make an impact on me?... you bet. To me and millions of others around the world. It is another step to the end of the romance of radio that the soulless internet can't supply. Quite a shame really. Please keep the CBC forever!
Sincerely, Jack Dubberley
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