I must have been about five or six years old at the time. We were living in a log house by a lake, in a place that is on the other side of the world from most other places on this planet. Later in life, I would be skiing to school, or rowing when the ice on the lake thawed. Up from our house, there were hills covered with pine forest, and down from the house there was a lake. The boat had no motor, and had been bought from a fisherman who had used it at sea.
There was a road going through there, but there werenÕt that many cars, because import restrictions still existed in those days, and cars were pretty expensive, too. But there was a bus, and I was too young to have a bicycle.
We did not have a telephone, and television had not yet been introduced in the country. The only connection with the world outside was through the radio. The radio was the focal point for family entertainment, for news, for sports – for all our desires to be part of things in other places than where we lived.
The radio was placed prominently in the living room, and was contained by a nice cabinet made from polished wood and fabric covering the speaker. The cabinet was brown and the fabric had a yellow tint with a pattern woven into it. Somewhere behind the radio, mice managed to come in and out, but we never could figure out exactly where, and perhaps their entrance was not there after all, but that they just liked coming out on the floor from there. They were forest-mice, and we fed them through the winters. In the spring they left and we did not see them nor their realtvies until next late fall.
To search for radio stations, I had to turn a dial, and a long arrow sweeped almost a full circle to cover the whole range. There was a knob to switch between wavelengths. The names of the cities with transmitters was printed on the glass which covered the display, and I could read Copenhagen, Oslo, Berlin, Moscow… places I had never been, but that I could easliy find in an atlas. I remember believing that what I heard from these places in the world was important, that what was on the radio was significant events from around the planet. I did of course not understand al thet many languages, and the search for music in all the static took on another dimension that way. There were many hindrances to overcome – adjusting tuning was the essence, as transmitters drifted in and out, and I remember particularly well the mens choirs from Moscow, and the Norwegian programs where the listeners could ask for a specific piece to be played. Of course, this was before record players were common, and radio concerts was the ususal way of experiencing any recorded music at all.
This wonderful machine was my only contact with the outside world. And perhaps it was the constant turning of the dial that pulled me in, or perhaps it was the glowing yellow light behind the dial. Whatever it was, I remember the exhilaratiing feeling of discovering a whole new world when I turned to the channel that were reserved for trafffic belonging to the fishing fleet. Morse code, static, different noises, clicks – all at once, and with occational spots in between filled with quiet or just one signal coming through loud and clear. I spent hours every week just listening to these sounds, learning where what was, and turning the dial to sequence the sounds in ways I liked.
On the wall behind the radio was a large window looking out over the lake, and looking out over this large expance of ice or water while listening to these fantastic illegible sounds made my first conscious significant experience with sound.
Jøran Rudi, Fall 1998