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Thursday, May 10, 2012


(Durban radio producer and sound effects master extraordinare, Henry Diffenthal, best known for his "High Adventure" series, talks about the Springbok Radio Preservation Society)

On May 8, a group of Durban actors, directors and technicians who worked with Springbok Radio travelled to Johannesburg courtesy of the SABC, to attend a function that officially marked the handover to the SABC of the archives of the Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa.

When Springbok Radio opened in 1950, it had only three medium wave transmitters but by October 1951, it was broadcasting to all the densely-populated areas of the then Union of South Africa on 11 transmitters. Eric Egan was the first voice on Springbok Radio with his breakfast show. From the start, it was a resounding success - announcers found themselves catapulted into the limelight and they were mobbed by eager fans when they made public appearances.

Springbok Radio created a new vehicle for local artists and writers. Private production houses were churning out episode after episode of soap operas such as From Chrystal with Love, No Place to Hide and Liefdeslied. There was also more than enough comedy to satisfy listeners. Shows such as the Caltex Loudspeaker Show, Next Stop – Makouvlei, Taxi, The Navy Lark, Friends and Neighbours and The Men from the Ministry became cult hits, while shows like Springbok Radio Top 20 offered music to the ears of the listeners.

Voices from Springbok Radio included Pip Freedman, Paddy O Byrne, Esme Euvrard, Clark McKay, Danie Smuts, Gordon Mulholland, Brian O’Shaughnessy, Dorianne Berry, David Gresham, Mervyn John, Robin Alexander, Dana Niehaus, Douggie Laws, Denis Smith and Bea Read, to name but a few.

It was a sad day for many listeners when Springbok Radio broadcast for the last time in 1985.

Unfortunately, much of the material was not archived due to many reasons, although a lot of the material was kept by producers, presenters, or recorded in listeners’ homes. Since the closure of Springbok Radio in 1985, interest by the public grew and the nostalgic value of old-time radio increased over the years. The Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa was formed in 2002. Frans Erasmus, the main drive behind the initiative, dedicated his life to collect as much Springbok Radio material possible, either from producers and production houses, or from private collectors, both locally and overseas.

The SABC Radio Archive has been working closely with The Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa over the last few years to assist in making the collection accessible to the public. Since most of the material belongs to the SABC, an agreement was reached with Frans Erasmus to grant him permission to look after the collection, and to make the material accessible via a website and a digital stream.

The SABC in return handled all queries relating to Springbok Radio and ensured that copyright was not violated. In addition, copies of the Springbok Radio collection were handed to the SABC on a regular basis to be catalogued and added to the SABC databases. The mutual understanding was to transfer the complete collection back to the SABC, for preservation and as part of the SABC’s radio broadcast legacy, while the Springbok Radio Preservation Society would maintain the website and digital stream under the auspices of the SABC.

Recently, Frans Erasmus decided to hand the collection in its entirety, including the website and the digital stream, to the SABC Radio Archives and agreed to assist with and oversee the process of transferring the digital stream and the website, as well as advising the preservation of the material and the information pertaining to the material.

As a gesture to thank Erasmus and the Springbok Radio Preservation Society for their contribution towards the preservation of one of the most nostalgic radio stations in South Africa, the SABC Media Libraries hosted a formal function where tribute was paid to Springbok Radio and the work Erasmus has done. It is exciting to know that a collection, once outside the SABC’s domain and almost forgotten, will return to its rightful place in the SABC where it will be looked after and be accessible for the future.

The theme of the event was reminiscent of the era of Springbok Radio and many of the previous presenters, actors and directors graced the event which served to thank everyone ever involved in Springbok Radio for their contribution to brighter broadcasting.

More information from Retha Buys, Senior Archivist: English & Afrikaans requests / Springbok Radio on 011 714 2772 or e-mail: