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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Personals Via Radio

A television program about people living on a remote refuge in Alaska caught my attention this past summer. They live off the grid and off the land as hunters and trappers. The remote cabin dwellers receive news from their families in more populated areas of Alaska as personal messages over the radio. A family member can phone the radio station and leave a message on a machine which is played on air, or the message can be read by the announcer. This type of communication goes on today in Alaska and is very important to the people involved.

This story reminded me of a similar time in Newfoundland. There was a radio program sponsored by Gerald S Doyle, a Newfoundland businessman. The bulletins which followed the news sponsored by Doyle, helped Newfoundland families stay in touch. It often revolved around people away at hospital in St. John's, telling families of their medical progress and plans for their return home. It was common to hear things like, "To Sally Jones in Jones Cove, Bert is doing well after the surgery and will be home on the train on Friday." Or, "To John Smith in Smithville, Mary had the baby on Sunday. Mother and daughter are doing well." 

All around the province, people tuned in to get the latest news, weather and word of their compatriots. My family in St. John's/Maddox Cove/Mount Pearl and my husband's family in Corner Brook, listened as well. The program was on supper time province-wide, making the island one big community, sharing personal information the quickest way possible. 

On a lighter note, the bulletin often contained some humorous commentary as well. One story goes that the announcer read this message immediately before the weather forecast, saying "There is a bean supper tonight in Lark Harbour...And now for the gale warning."

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