tuning in to the outback radio flash fiction

Tuning In #Flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio. It can be from any station or era. What is heard? A song, announcement, ad? Think of how radion (sic) connects people and places. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt radio

My response is not a story. It is a reflection on a moment in time. As a child, I loved visiting my aunts, uncles and cousins on their Queensland stations. I hadn’t yet developed an interest in the news or felt it had a significance in my life and was fascinated by the importance it was given in these rural households. It’s understandable when I realise how much their lives were affected by things they couldn’t affect such as stock prices and the weather.

My uncle used to talk to the news report saying things like, “Go on, eh?” or “Is that right?” as if he was in conversation with the reporter. It was very endearing, but it also amused me knowing that the reporter was unable to hear him.

Nowadays, I find myself talking to the television news reporters in less endearing ways when I correct their grammar and terminology. I won’t be able to think of them all now — there’d be too many anyway — but here are three that really bug me:

  1. The use of ‘infer’ when the mean ‘imply’.
  2. Reporting that a vehicle lost control rather than the driver lost control. Until self-drive vehicles are readily available, I think the driver should be in control.
  3. Overuse of the word ‘left’, for example, ‘the man was left injured after the accident’. Surely, he was injured in the accident and not left anywhere. I’d understand it better if he was left on the platform after the train departed.

The radio was important to these outback families in another very special way. Since they were so far from schools, the children were schooled over the radio network with School of the Air and the support of parents or governesses. Many of the families, including my cousins, had special school rooms set up in which to take their lessons. While I loved their school rooms, I never got to see them ‘in action’ as I always visited during the school holidays.

Anyway, I digress. Here is my response to Charli’s prompt.

Tuning In

On sheep and cattle stations in outback Queensland in the pre-television and digital era, when mail and groceries were delivered fortnightly, the party line telephone and radio linked families with the outside world.

Mealtimes were scheduled to conclude with news broadcasts. The chatter and clatter ceased the moment chimes announced the start. Graziers inclined towards the radio, concentrating to extract words from the crackle, hopeful of positive stock reports, promising weather forecasts and news of world events.

Unable to affect, but affected by, the situations reported, the graziers returned to the day’s tasks, hopeful of better news next report.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

37 thoughts on “Tuning In #Flashfiction

  1. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Interesting reflections, Norah. It’s not quite the same thing, but your memories of your rural relatives of the radio reminds me of the shipping forecast that was out two or three times a day on BBC radio. Of course, I’ve never needed it, nor properly understood it, but I’m not alone in enjoying its unintended poetry – it’s very soothing!

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      1. Norah Post author

        I can’t see them now! But I agree with you. Sometimes I re-read my comments two or three times and find nothing, then when I come back to read them, the errors are obvious. How does that happen?
        I should be the last one to cast aspersions. I’m far from perfect and try as I might, I certainly can’t get all my spellings and grammar right. I wish I could, though.

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  2. Darlene

    On a farm in the Canadian prairies, radio was our entertainment in the 50s and 60s. I loved listening to stories of Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. Dad would eagerly listen to the stock report when he came in for lunch. I still prefer listening to the radio than having the TV on.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I think the TV is more distracting, isn’t it? It is for me anyway. It keeps calling me to look at it. Radio doesn’t require that extra attention. I rarely have either on. When I was a teenager, I used to have the radio on while I was studying to help me concentrate (I was one of many -noisy- children). Now I am quite happy to have the quiet. I love to be able to hear the birds and other outside noises instead.

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  3. Hugh W. Roberts

    My mother told me of school programmes on the radio where she’d sit with her classmates and teacher and listen to the radio. By the time I got to school, those programmes had transferred to the television. Of course, that’s all long gone now, what with computers and the internet.
    It’s a lovely image of a family having dinner together every evening while listening to the radio. These days, I think it happens less and less, Norah.
    Thank you for sharing your memories of the radio.

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    1. Norah Post author

      That’s right, Hugh. Lessons on the radio were still popular even when I first started teaching, though they had started to be introduced on television by then as well. Nowadays, as you say, there is so much wonderful stuff available on the internet, we are really spoilt for choice. In fact, sometimes I think there is too much choice. It can be overwhelming.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hugh.

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  4. TanGental

    Funny those bugbears. I can’t remember mine of which there are legion – misuse of fewer and less, is one – but dad’s two favs were generalised. If anything was otiose – ‘for free’ rather than ‘free’ and ‘as of now’ rather than ‘now’ he’d below otiose at the radio. Or a tautology ‘they arrived together at the same time’. Happy days!

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    1. Norah Post author

      I agree with you about fewer and less. I also agree with your Dad, though I may have to pull myself up on being otiose at times. It’s difficult to get it right all the time but, as of now, I’ll try to improve and do better. 🤣

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  5. Prior...

    Had no idea that they had the radio school program – if it makes sense! And I have den playing some good old fashioned radio the last couple of months – so this is timely as a topic -we had a dog stay with us for a long eight days and he played with our pup – and we used the radio as a way to keep them quiet at times – amazing how it works

    And your fiction really Grabbed that setting and history snapshot – well done
    Oh and laughed at your examples- I will think of you and reporters say “left”

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      1. Prior...

        Hi Norah – we got the radio idea from our friends that used to use music and the radio with their Rottweilers – they had a rescue so sometimes had extra dogs in their kennel – and had three in the house – so we were there for a few parties and the house dogs would be upstairs with classical music and the kennel area had the radio playing – I guess the alternating between the songs and ads or DJ worked –
        And recently – long story so I will keep it short – And might write about it in a post – but I recently got a radio with a cassette player because I need to convert a tape (and the small
        Boom box I found used is really fun) anyhow – the station I chose was An old school Christian station (with very old songs and some new) because the peppy (over the top) female DJs on the contemporary Christian stations were annoying us – (feel bad saying that – but you muted your news annoyances – lol) we had the music play near bedtime to help the dogs wind down – and it worked ! I am
        Not sure they had a preference – it was more like white noise – and without it – the dog we were watching (and shhhh – he was an ADD pup of 12 months and loved him but gave me gray hairs – he was a rescue (so also sweet!) for the folks we were watching it for – they have their hands full! And if the music was off – the dog would whine and bark from his kennel – with the music on – we could leave the kennel sore opened and he was quiet -!

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    1. Norah Post author

      The radio was always on at home when I was a child. Every morning at 7.30 there was a story time, which I used to love. It’s where I first heard “The Little Engine that Could” and it’s been a lifelong favourite since then. The only other story I can remember was about a snake with a name something like Tumburrumba. I didn’t like the way the story reader said it, or maybe it was a scary story, but it had the opposite effect on me from that of the Little Engine. I’ve tried a few times over the years to find out what the story was but have never been able to. It’s funny what we remember, isn’t it? I don’t remember any ghost stories.

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      1. Miriam Hurdle

        We didn’t have a radio. Our long apartment has four families. One family had the radio on all day long, but I don’t remember any children’s stories. Maybe they didn’t tuned into the station with children’s stories.
        We were on the third floor. Sometimes I went downstairs and listened to the radio at the store there. The stories usually had several voices playing different roles.

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