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EDITIONS
 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 10:56 GMT
World Service at 70: Your stories
The BBC World Service turned 70 on 19 December 2002.

To mark the occasion the World Service broadcast a series of stories from a mix of celebrities and listeners whose lives have been affected in any way by the service.

They include Terry Waite who was able to tune in whilst incarcerated in a Beirut prison and a Sri Lankan listener who almost electrocuted himself mending his aerial, in a near ill-fated effort not to miss a sports programme.

For one listener recovering in hospital, BBC World Service became a lifeline, while for another listening in Prague it opened his ears to Western jazz music.

How have you been affected by World Service programmes? Has the service played an important part in your life? Have you heard a programme or news broadcast that has changed your way of thinking?


This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The radio was on 20 hours a day and it helped me to stay sane

Ruta Luse, Latvia
My son was born in May 1972. I had to stay home and was so busy looking after him there was only one window open to the rest of the world: the BBC, of course. The radio was on 20 hours a day and it helped me to stay sane, in spite of all the pressures around.
Ruta Luse, Latvia

I have been listening to the BBC World Service since I was 13. Decades later, and exposure to many other news sources have left me just as convinced of the reliability and value of the BBC.
Bobby, Trinidad

I have worked for one of the "other" international radio stations for over 30 years. I am proud of that accomplishment. I am also proud to say that I have been listening to the World Service for even more years. There is no better source for news and information than the BBC World Service. Congratulations on your many years of bringing the world to your listeners. I salute you....
Neils Lindquist, USA

I feel as if we are all one family

Betsy, USA
Having just scrolled through all the fascinating letters from all your devoted listeners, I feel as if we are all one family, or at least global friends. It is so impressive to read about the BBC's far-reaching impact; you are not just a presenter of history - you are a part of history.
Betsy, USA

I've been working overseas for twenty-two years in many different countries and the World Service has been my constant companion. Highlights have been twenty-two years of Sportsworld on Saturdays and listening to reports of the Romanian Revolution in 1989 whilst I was actually caught up in it. Please ensure you broadcast the European Cup Final live from Old Trafford next May so Manchester United fans around the world can savour the moment.
Nigel Townson, Tanzania

Life was empty without my daily BBC World Service

Neil Pirie, UK
Although 45 now and resident in the UK I am hooked on the BBC World Service and think you're fab. The first memory I have of you was when I was about 5 when my father was in the RAF in Singapore. The again when I was 15 in Kenya, then again when I was 20 in Bahrain and in Hong Kong where I was for about 10 years. Life was empty without my daily BBC World Service. Oh I also forgot to mention that I worked for Thomas Cook for 25 years and visited 100+ countries of the world on business, never once without my trusted Sony s/w radio. Life would not be normal without you. Happy 70th birthday.
Neil Pirie, UK

For well over 20 years, I listened to the BBC while I was on different assignments in the Third World. The news programme kept me well informed of what was going on in the world. Robin Lustig, Owen Bennet-Jones, and many others became my trusted friends. In addition, I derived great pleasure in listening to other programmes on faith, music, art, etc. All in all, I benefited greatly from the BBC which was listened to since its infancy by my grandparents in France!
Ellen Mehu, USA

"Esta es la BBC de Londres" (this is the BBC of London) and the notes of "Jealousy". During WWII, in Buenos Aires, those were magic words on my father's radio set. I learned to count listening to your reports and figuring out the number of bombers that went out on missions over Germany and those that returned. Years later a Spaniard named Juan Valdez chatted about the people in the little town he lived in in Britain, as a refugee I would assume from Franco's regime. On the BBC I heard Churchill and Gandhi. Those were times for giants and the BBC rose to the occasion. To me, back when international travel was rare, the BBC was Britain, and represented grace under pressure. Through you the Big Ben has sounded the hours all over the globe. Happy 70th Anniversary BBC. We both are young at heart.
Jorge Bucci, USA

Thank you for your contribution to my life

Agnes Ponilako Kujjo, Sudan
BBC deserves all the best for everything it has given me. Good luck BBC! Happy birthday! And long live you for me and others. Thank you for your contribution to my life.
Agnes Ponilako Kujjo, Sudan

Whilst living in Japan, the BBC World Service was my saviour. At times when the influx of Japanese language was proving too much, it was a relief to tune into something so globally informative and interesting. Well done.
Suzanne McMillan, Ireland

When has the BBC made a difference for me? Every time I have travelled abroad, with my trusty Grundig Travels II SW Radio. I don't leave home without it! The Berlin Wall coming down, the invasion of Iraq into Kuwait, the Invasion of the Falkland Islands, Alistair Cooke's Letter from America, PM Winston Churchill's farewells. The list is timeless - day in day out. It seems as though the Sun never sets on the Empire, with the BBC broadcasting.
Philip Ohmes, USA

When I was 11 I was involved in a skiing accident in Austria. My leg was in agony for a week, and what kept me sane in my hotel room was the sound of the World Service on my radio- fading back and forth, but ever present, "This is London". Reassuring words for the Englishman abroad. Keep up the good work.
Dan Cook, Newcastle, UK

A closed truck-weighing station at 2:00 am on a stretch of interstate 80 in eastern Nebraska would seem an unlikely time and place to rediscover an appreciation of classic Russian literature. But that is what happened, thanks to World Service. The different perspectives you present, whether looking at my country or elsewhere, are enlightening and somehow enriching. There is a big, wonderful world out there. Thank you for helping us see some of it.
Jason Bayne, USA

Maximum respect

Michael Haanel, Jamaica
I was born in 1942, and in the early 50s my Dad and I built a crystal radio set. I have been a radio and news junkie since that day, and it wasn't long until I had a short wave radio, tuned into the BBC. The wonderful presenters! The up to the minute unbiased news for 70 years now, in all of those languages! All the music and information and now you have the greatest website on the planet too! And no advertising! Maximum respect.
Michael Haanel, Jamaica

My dad introduced me to the BBC world service when I was barely 10. I recollect the many late-nights listening to the closing overs of Test matches in England from Brian Johnson, John Arlott and company during the seventies and EW Swanton's crisp summaries at the close of play. I recollect following the Indo-Pak war in 1971, Mrs Gandhi's assassination, the Watergate scandal, the fall of the Berlin wall and other momentous events. I heard of the 9/11 incident on the BBC in Singapore at 10 PM and switched to the BBC TV in time to watch the second plane crash into the twin tower. BBC world service has been an integral part of me for the past thirty years. I hope to be able to listen to the BBC when it turns 100!
Ravishankar, Bangalore India

Dear Friends at BBC, On your 70th birthday I want to join the world in congratulating you for many hours of informative and entertaining broadcasting. It is at moments like this that I recall one occasion when I was deeply and lastingly touched by one of your broadcasts and your subsequent kindness. First, the broadcast. It was back in 1998 and I was in a remote village in India, confined to bed with sickness. In my half sleep I heard a child's voice, speaking in a most moving way about death. Her words were interspersed with song from Maria Callas.

The monologue moved me so much that I waited day and night for the repeat of the programme which eventually came and I heard it in full. It was of course, "Spoonface Steinberg" and the speaker Becky Simpson. That voice and story moved me so much that I was determined to hear it still more and so I wrote to you for details. You graciously guided me and I finally, on a visit to London, purchased the audio cassette. Since then I have heard it over a hundred times and each time it was brought me great joy and ever deeper inspiration. I have invited many friends to listen as well. For all those hours of joy and for all else you have done to brighten and inspire the world, many and sincere thanks.
Kevin Ward, India

When I want to know what is really going on around the world, I can rely on BBC. These three letters represents the highest standard of broadcasting. Wish to thank each and every one of you working at BBC for your loyal service provided to all listeners/viewers all around the globe.
Mary Remete, Hungary

I'm sure that I speak for every British Merchant Seaman past and present in thanking the BCC world service for keeping us all sane on long passages, a copy of "London Calling" was worth its weight in gold.
Tony Sorace, Grenada, Ex UK/USA

It is by far the best of all the BBC's output

John Penny, Scotland
I have been listening to the World Service for many years. It is by far the best of all the BBC's output. Just wish I could listen to it through the day instead of having to wait until Radio 4 closes down at 01.00 hours before I can tune in. I particularly appreciate the factual programmes, (e.g. One Planet) world news and comment which is of a particularly high quality (rarely surpassed by the rest of the BBC's output) and which often discusses environmental topics which are relatively poorly covered by the domestic BBC news programmes.

However, all the output is of very high quality. Meridian Masterpiece, the Book Club, all the music programmes: classical music, jazz, garage and acid house, world music, Revolver, all in all a pretty eclectic mixture but always stimulating and enjoyable. What happened to the programme on Blues which appeared a couple of years ago? Why can't we have it available 24/7 in Scotland?
John Penny, Scotland

Anatali (Maksimovitsh) Goldberg was very highly appreciated commentator in Tartu (State) University. We all were listening to him in secret. The BBC was forbidden and awfully popular among students in the 60s and 70s. I am sure, Anatali Maksimovitsh gave us a political education. Lots of ministers and members of parliament of today's Estonia - we all respect the BBC. Thank you, Anatoli Maksimovitsh.
Olev, Estonia

From interviews with a villager to a giant

Douglas Odeh, Nigerian
I was ten when I started listening to the BBC and continue to listen every day. I am impressed by the programmes the BBC broadcasts, from interviews with a villager to a giant. The BBC tells me what is going on in my country today. Thanks.
Douglas Odeh, Nigerian

I was trying to study English for many years until I discovered the shortwave radio world and the BBC. The language lessons that were broadcast with explanations in Russian and English changed my life. I quickly mastered English, got a good job and eventually even worked as a translator! I was so impressed that I wrote an article "English By Radio" that was published in a maritime journal. I can say almost as Celine Dion: I am everything I am because you taught me! THANK YOU!
Igor Kalinin, Ukraine

I lived in the UK for three years and got hooked on the BBC through my flatmate while studying at Oxford. Everywhere I travel throughout the world, there is no better pinnacle of reporting than the Beeb.
Bruce, USA

The BBC has played a very important role in 3 generations of our family

M. Dev Anand, India
I was introduced to BBC radio by my father; he always believed the only true news available undistorted is from the BBC. I have now encouraged my son to watch BBC news on TV and now he regularly watches it after school hours. The BBC has played a very important role in 3 generations of our family. The service we have received from you through all these years is enormous. We thank you heartily for it and we wish many more years of news service to come.
M. Dev Anand, India

I'm sure that I speak for every British merchant seaman past and present in thanking the BCC World Service for keeping us all sane on long passages, a copy of "London Calling" was worth its weight in gold.
Tony Sorace, Grenada, ex UK/USA

When I was 13 years old, my father built me a shortwave radio set. I had asked for one for my birthday so that I might listen to the BBC. The Heathkit set was the size of a computer. Its antenna stretched along a clothesline leading from our house to a tree at the far end of the yard. I'm listening to the Beeb on a computer now. It's necessary once again to get world news from another source than domestic ones. Thank you for the excellent coverage and long may you wave.
Nancy, USA

I have grown to be a loyal fan of the World Service

Lim Chee Hong, Singapore
I was introduced to the BBC World Service about 10 years ago by my primary school English teacher who will always bring a radio to class every morning to let us listen to the news. He wanted us to improve our English as well as our knowledge of current affairs. I remember vaguely that the news then were mostly reports of the war in the Gulf, which I had difficulty comprehending (I was around 11 years then). Now, more than a decade later, little did my teacher know I have grown to be a loyal fan of the World Service. Every week night before I sleep, I will need my daily dose of World News roundup follow by East Asia Today. Thank you BBC for informing, educating and entertaining me all these years.
Lim Chee Hong, Singapore

I have lived on different continents and watched and listened to highly provocative, reflective and informative programmes. But none match the BBC, for its format, objectivity and world view.
Dr Rajinder Sehgal, Canada

Happy birthday, BBC World Service! I have only been listening for about two years, but it has made a world of difference to my perspective. The BBC's accuracy, impartiality and overall quality are unrivalled. Thank you. Here's to another 70 years!
Brian Chao, USA

There is still something special about listening on short-wave

Tim Clairs, Malaysia
I was first introduced to the joy of travelling with the BBC World Service by a fellow backpacker in Kakamega forest, Kenya, in 1992. It was not long before I too had a tiny receiver and the BBC frequencies scrawled in my journal. Later that year I was renovating an isolated farm house in France and would stop work in time to listen to Jazz for the Asking, or DLT on a Jolly Good Show.

But my relationship with the WS was really cemented the next year when I travelled overland on my own from Prague to Bombay. Wherever I was - from a filthy room in Bukhara to camping atop mountains in northern Pakistan - the BBC was always my nightly companion. Tuning in and hearing Lilley Bolero and This is London was somehow very reassuring when I was completely alone and a long way from home - and I'm not even British!

My wife soon shared my joy of listening to the BBC. In fact the strains of Lilley Bolero and a mock BBC news story announcing our marriage were played at our wedding! Now we live in KL and can enjoy all the new benefits of listening to the WS via the internet and reading the website. But there is still something special about listening on short-wave; with the cracking and hissing, or the football crowds in the commentary background sounding like waves crashing on a beach. So every now and then we get out the old short-wave receiver and enjoy all the memories we have shared with the BBC. Thank you.
Tim Clairs, Malaysia

It is the gold standard of broadcasting worldwide. I admit to listening to the news in languages which I do not understand in the slightest... just because I can! Unparalleled anywhere in the world. Keep up the good - no, superb work! We'd all be lost without it.
Arri London, EU/US

I'm serving in the Royal Air Force. When in the UK I am spoilt for quality news with the ever present Radio 4. But we inevitably get stationed at some very out of the way places and it's a priority for me to find out if I can receive the BBC World Service. Currently I am stationed in Texas, USA - no problem here I thought - the USA is a well developed country and I should be able to get the news I need. How wrong I was! In President's George Bush's home state the only thing that comes even close to unbiased reporting is a few hours of the BBC's The World broadcast late at night on a local public broadcasting station. I was very relieved to find it! At a time when there's a potential war looming in the Middle East it's important to have the facts and not be trying to decipher propaganda from reality. I may look tired some mornings (because I listen into the small hours) but at least I know what's happening. You're doing a great job, keep it up!
John Coady, USA

Halfway up a mountain I listened to Richard Burton reading Under Milkwood

Christo, UK
Many years ago, whilst travelling across Venezuela into Colombia I was having some tough times and felt very much like heading back to London. Halfway up a mountain and staying in a tiny, cold and very bare room I tuned in to the World Service on my pocket sized radio; there I listened to Richard Burton reading from Under Milkwood. Cheered me up no end and kept me on the road for a couple more months. A fantastic if arduous trip along the Putumayo River was the highlight and all because the World Service stopped me feeling so down in the dumps.
Christo, UK

I was in Tanzania 2 years ago with VSO. I lived in Kilimanjoro for 2 1/2 years. Every morning and evening I used to tune into BBC World service. I was better informed about what was going on in the world than I am now, and I am back in Ireland, have all the news papers I could want. Thanks BBC xxx
Anne Michael, Ireland

Twenty years in Nigeria made me a devoted and appreciative fan of the BBC WS. I still enjoy it here for the best international news. Thanks
Rev Jack Ryan, SJ, USA

We used to get the BBC on a creaky old radio

Deborah Hubbard, South Africa
When I was a very small child, we used to get the BBC on a creaky old radio that my parents had listened to during the Second World War "to find out what was really happening". For the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of JF Kennedy we went back to the Beeb and were not disappointed. In South Africa's dark days, our local media were subject to censorship both official and voluntary, and once more the answer was the BBC. I listen to the 04:00 news every morning, and usually in the evenings as well. As a news and sport junkie with high standards, I hope I never have to retune my radio.
Deborah Hubbard, South Africa

I've been involved in American radio for decades, including working for the Voice of America. You have always been THE standard. Thank you for decades of dedication to all of us out here.
Rob Brown, USA

A former boyfriend turned me on to BBC World Service. When I work at night, BBC is on the radio; when I work days, my clock-radio is tuned to BBC so I wake up to it. My brother lives in England, and thanks to BBC, we have mutual interests to e-mail each other about.
Donna Harris, USA

I was outside the US for 11 years while on active duty. I relied on the BBC for "straight up" reporting of the news. The two most important times were during 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. The other in 1966/67 while I was in Vietnam. I carried a SW radio in a box using a shoulder strap. We would huddle around the radio and listen to the BBC while writing letters home. Your unbiased reporting has made me a lifetime listener. Since 1964 and I'm still listening!
SFC(ret) Larry Coppala, USA

You keep us informed and aware of the stories of humanity as they unfold

Hussein Ali Yusuf, Somalia/USA
I grew up listening to the BBC and continue to listen every day. I am impressed by the programmes the BBC broadcasts, from interviews with a villager to a giant executive in NY. One can hear the dedication and excitement the broadcasters and reporters have for the news and the story they tell. There is no any other news organisation to compare to the BBC. The BBC simply rocks. May your good work continue. Thank for your dedication and the amazing things you do. You keep us informed and aware of the stories of humanity as they unfold. God bless... live long.
Your affectionate listener, Hussein Ali Yusuf, Somalia/USA

I woke on a clear morning in August 1991 to learn of a coup in the Soviet Union. My sister was teaching in the Ukraine not far from where rogue KGB officers had Gorbachev under house arrest with his loyal guards. Obviously we were very worried and got much of our news from the World Service and Radio 4 over the next seven days. Afterwards in turned out that Gorbachev had also being getting his news from the World Service. Public service broadcasting at its best! Roll on another 70 years!
Neil, UK

Hey there. I grew up in Watford listening to "Auntie BBC," came to the USA in 1963 and rediscovered the BBC on the internet just a couple of years ago. It's 5am in Los Angeles now, and my morning routine is to get the coffee started, read any e-mail, then go straight to the BBC online to see what's REALLY happening in the world. As previous folks have noted, commercial US media coverage is biased and uninformed at the best of times.
Annette Winter, USA

I have been listening to the BBC World Service since 1989 and it has now been part of my life. I'm so into music and sports with the BBC being my main guide. My most memorable moment is the coverage I got on the BBC during the attempted coup in Trinidad in 1990. During this time we got nothing out of the local stations. The BBC was a saviour.
Abel, Trinidad W.I.

I have listened to the BBC World Service for 20 years. Unfortunately I have noticed the deterioration of the UK transmission night-time service into a 24-hour news programme which is occasionally interrupted by that appalling serial Westway which makes me reach for the off button and prescribe its actors with a course of Prozac. Sadly now, if I want to hear the "real" world service I have to tune around on my short-wave set for the same international broadcasts I listen to when abroad. Any chance of bringing the old topical programmes back to the UK eg plays, comedy, nature and panel games, to name but a few? But please, please do not drop the title tune "Sailing By".
Martin Iles, UK (London)

Long may this wonderful cultural institution continue

Virginia Tym, England
The World Service has been an important part of daily - and nightly - life for me as far back as I can remember, from early days in the Sudan to later periods in countries from Israel to the US. I still listen every night, love the creative mix of programmes - long may this wonderful cultural institution continue!
Virginia Tym, England

Every evening a group of women, men and children gathered to listen to the World Service at a neighbour's flat for the vital news information

Rene L. Ash, USA
During WWII the BBC World Service was and still is today the best news source. When it came to Nazi movements the BBC offered the best in-depth information. Under German rule in Brussels - my birthplace - it was illegal to possess a radio. Every evening a group of women, men and children gathered to listen to the World Service at a neighbour's flat for the vital news information. Anyone caught with a radio during Nazi raids - death was imminent. I have been listening to BBC World Service for the past 60 years. And now that it is available on the internet, I'm able to enjoy it during my leisure and working hours.
Rene L. Ash, USA

When I was a teenager in the 1940s I used to build simple radios. For some reason, the one station that I could always receive was the BBC World Service. I still hear the strains of Lilley Bolero whenever World Service is mentioned. I also listened regularly to news from Radio Moscow and Voice of America but I always felt that the BBC was the truth and the others were propaganda. Well brainwashed, eh?
Alan, UK

I grew up in Darjeeling where during my childhood years a fair number of British families used to live. But, I recall BBC's Far Eastern Broadcasting Service with greater fondness than any of the tea planters' families. We as children were always encouraged to listen to BBC for it was supposed to represent the most correct form of English. There appears to be some definite measures of truth in that lesson: If I have acquired some vague hint of BBC accent and if I have learnt to write reasonably correct English, I owe it to the BBC. I guess, the BBC also encouraged my pro-British attitude and taught me the value of loyalty and fairness.
Chundra Mahakirat Rai, Kathmandu, Nepal

I started listening to the BBC World Service in the mid-70s, when I was a teenager and when my English became good enough to understand BBC broadcasts in English. Foreign stations broadcasting in Russian had been jammed and BBC World Service was the best source of weighted and well-structured information. I also learned a lot on Britain, the people and culture, the way of life, etc. I still remember the comments on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, on Falklands War, Soviet political establishment. Actually, BBC World Service did a big job in the shattering of the iron curtain. As the FT is an example of quality press, BBC World Service is an example of quality radio. I am still a keen listener.
Andrei Sedin, Russia

At our wedding we used the wedding march music I taped off the BBC a year earlier

Michael Lebron, Mongolia
When I moved from the US to work in the capital of Mongolia I was amazed at how much goes on in the world that we Americans don't hear about. For a few years I could not get anything in English, but the BBC. Outlook became my favourite program, but now I live in the extreme eastern part of Mongolia where reception is poor or drowned out most of the time. But I am not so lonely, because I have now married a Mongolian. I hope you don't mind but at our wedding we used the wedding march music I taped off the BBC a year earlier. Thanks guys and gals of the BBC. I miss you, but others are out there that need you, so keep it up.
Michael Lebron, Mongolia

It's Tasmania. Waking about 4.30. The night is beginning to give way and I roll over and stretch my arm under my bed. Pulling wire until suddenly it is freely moving across the carpet to my hand the orange radio given me by a can of instant coffee. Drifting now. Into and out of much of consciousness. BBC World Service. 90 minutes pass in this way. And peaceful and calm and scarcely believing my ears when after 6am morning shock-jocks get onto the air and twist their redneck interpretations of current affairs into the peoples ears. Silently I give thanks and praises. Thanks and praises. To God. That the BBC World Service has given unto me facts unlike any other. That the BBC World Service has been inside my mind as I awake and not any other. For the other morning news is so hopelessly incomplete. You complete me BBC.
Hayden Grove, Australia

BBC, those three letters have been in my life since last 15 years. I began listening to the BBC when I was very much obsessed with cricket. As a spirited follower of cricket, I was very much excited listening to commentary involving any two teams around the globe. During the 1980s I sent a letter to BBC Test Match Special, admiring the good qualities in Graham Gooch. I was very much rejoiced, listening to Mr Peter Baxter reading my letter during the test match special tea break!!

Another incident, which comes in my mind when talking about BBC, is the news of Rajeev Gandhi's assassination in 1991. I was the one who heard the piece of news in our locality during that night and me along with my friend had gone to local political leader's house to convey the news and entire town got up with the news after that only. Thank you BBC and the entire crew for its impartial reporting of each and every news item. BBC, please keep it up.
Jahangeer K A, Singapore

It connects me to my family.

Chris Cobb, USA
My grandfather listened to the BBC in when he would use binoculars to search the sky for German V1 rockets in London during the war. Later when my father was in the army in the 1950s, he listened to keep in touch with world events. As for myself, I have listened to it on and off since I was a child. Now I am 32 and I still turn to the World Service not only for news, but because in a real way it connects me to my family.
Chris Cobb, USA

As an occasional UK listener to World Service I would like to say how much I enjoy its perspective on the world, especially the international articles dealing with farming health and economic issues in other parts of the world. I like the broad outlook and strongly prefer this to the emphasis on British political news in the national media here.
David Ayers, UK

I may not have listened to BBC WS for as long as other people in this forum, but I do know it gives me an insight into the wider world as much as it did to them. I remember being the only one in boarding school a couple of years back listening to the BBC on SW while others were busy listening to trash on the local FM radio. I also remember being one of the earliest around where I am to know about the WTC September 11th attacks, thanks to BBC WS. BBC also sort of inspired me to have a dream to go to the UK, and even though this dream has not yet materialised, listening to the BBC WS now makes me feel as if I'm already halfway there. Long live BBC World Service!
Hafizi Azmal, Malaysia

My uncle who has since passed away, would always listen to the BBC. He wrote to the BBC World Service Indian section and asked if he could come to the studio and watch them record a programme. They agreed to this. He was by this time frail. I accompanied him to Holborn. He was so honoured to be watching the programme being recorded. I asked afterwards why? He said he was in the Indo-China war and he and his colleagues would hold their trannies close to their ears to hear the truth about the war. That is the expectations the World Service has.
Supinder

Listening to the BBC during WWII would cost you your life

Joske Duffield, USA
During the Japanese occupation of Java (now part of Indonesia) during WWII we were not allowed to listen to any international broadcasts. My father was arrested by the kempeitai when they suspected us to be in possession of an unregistered radio. I never saw my father again and I was promptly interned. I don't think the present generation knows that listening to the BBC during WWII would cost you your life. I still get goosebumps when listening to your broadcasts.
Joske Duffield, USA

I remember when I was 20 years younger. I had just finished my medical degree and was working as a doctor outside my native city, which is Lviv in Ukraine, at that time a part of the Soviet Union. It was not possible to listen to Western radio stations as the KGB muffled them in all big cities. But if you were living in a somewhat remote place, like the place where I worked, the muffling was weak and one could still catch some programmes. So I used to come home late in the evening, prepare some food for supper and tune my old transistor radio to the Russian Service of the BBC. It was there that I first heard A. Solzhenitsyn's The Day in Life of Ivan Denisovich and chapters from The Gulag Archipelago, which were banned at that time in the Soviet Union. When muffling was too strong, I tried to listen to English section of the BBC, which, among other, preserved and improved my knowledge of English. Now, things have changed, but BBC remains my favourite: it's even my homepage in the internet. Happy Birthday, and thank you!
Dr Ihor Hrytsiuk, Ukraine

I can't remember the first time I heard the BBC World Service. I have very early memories growing up in Australia and listening. As a child, the thing I most remember was the Goon Show; not just for the silliness and fun, but also for the swing music on the show. Hearing the liveliness of this music has lead to a life long appreciation and education in jazz. Currently, I'm a big Outlook fan. I love hearing all the stories and opinions from around the world, particularly the African music that is often part of the show. The BBC World Service continues to provide me with new and interesting information and most importantly, music and understanding of other cultures.
Joan Herlinger, USA/Australia

One of the great tragedies of my life was the decision by the BBC to stop broadcasting the World Service to Canada a few years ago. This decision means that I haven't been able to listen to it and my life is significantly diminished. You can't listen to an Internet webcast in bed, or when we are doing things around the house, but a radio can be with you wherever you are. Please give us back the World Service!
Adam Quinan, Canada

BBC World Service was news and news was the BBC

Ali Ghafoori, Afghanistan
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, BBC World Service was news and news was the BBC. Your accomplishments have been massive and we certainly owe a depth of gratitude for the quality of your programming. Even now, BBC stands head and shoulders above most other news sources in all its outlets. However, I do hope that in the future the same standards and integrity will be maintained.
Ali Ghafoori, Afghanistan

When I was growing up in India during the 80s I used to listen to the BBC World Service on the shortwave radio very regularly. Unbiased news, extensive coverage of international news, and commercial-free programming were a hallmark of the World Service. Where else can you find a service, supported by the British taxpayer, that dares to portray Britain (mainly in the sporting arena) in a negative light to the rest of the world?!
Vish, US

In the late 1980s, I began listening to the BBC World Service while working in the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu. For five years, I lived and travelled throughout the islands, relying on the BBC World Service for high quality news and entertainment whether I was in the capital or the most remote island. Upon returning to Canada, I was disappointed that reception was difficult until I linked onto the internet. Thankfully, I can now log on to the World Service several times a day for the BBC's wide-ranging coverage of world events both in audio and printed form. Thank you, World Service!
Stan Combs, Canada

I worked for five years as a young engineer on BBC World Service transmitters. It was a strange life, riding in the early hours of the morning through fields of sheep to 'slew' the antennas so the broadcasts could reach different parts of the world, and operating the cranky transmitters. Years later, I was travelling through the Lake District with my wife, and got a sudden yen to visit Skelton transmitting station. I was amazed to find myself stepping through a time warp; little had changed, and even some of the old faces were still there. Best wishes to the engineers who still maintain the service.
Clive Warner, Mexico

I heard about the coup on my tiny shortwave radio

Michael Greig, UK
As the Soviet tanks rolled into Red Square on the morning of 19 August 1991, I was on the Trans-Siberian Express train that was due to reach Moscow that same afternoon, five days after leaving Beijing. I heard about the coup on my tiny shortwave radio, and spread the alarming news up and down the train. Most people thought it was all a joke, but by the next BBC news broadcast, the corridor in my carriage was packed full of concerned western travellers. I will never forget the sea of concerned faces, the hushed voices, everyone straining to hear the little speaker of my radio, the antenna pressed against the glass, the volume cranked up, as the voice from Bush House squarked out "This is London...". Then the gasps as people realised that Moscow had suddenly become a very risky place to be, and that by pure chance we were all going to arrive in the city just as the final fate of Soviet communism (and the course of world history) was about to be decided there...
Malcolm Greig, UK

My father was an avid listener of BBC World Service radio, so we all grew up with the sounds of this venerable service filling the home and the car. It was in the car one early Saturday afternoon in 1985 that we heard that the Hotel New World in Singapore had collapsed like the proverbial pack of cards, and that it was feared a passing bus had been trapped under the rubble. What was remarkable was that the BBC reported it at the same time as, if not earlier than, Singaporean stations. That certainly left a deep impression on me, and my faith in the World Service has never been shaken since.
Tannenbaum, Cambridge/Singapore

When I was deployed to the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm, my ship did not get any live TV feeds, we got tapes of CNN and the regular networks, but they were always a couple of days old when we got to see them. the best source of information that we had on what was going on elsewhere in the gulf and back home was the BBC radio that we could listen to with our Walkman radios when we were above deck. I thought then, and have thought since then, that the BBC was much more fair and impartial than the other networks in the US.
Robert, USA

I partly owe my English accent to BBC World Service

Thomas Schaefer, Germany
BBC World Service has had a tremendous influence on my life from the time I was about 13 or 14 years old. Discovering the world via my short wave radio in the afternoon after coming home from school, I got hooked on BBC World Service very early on. It was a station quite different from any other - it did not just rely on news and magazine programmes, it also broadcast quiz shows (ah, Brain of Britain!) and more entertainment. I have always loved listening to the plays, and the thriller serials (Mandala with Robert Stephens was one of my favourites). The classical serials introduced me to a wonderful world of literature - David Copperfield, Far From The Madding Crowd, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, and many many others. I also partly owe my English accent to BBC World Service - perhaps even my job as an English teacher in Germany today.
Thomas Schaefer, Germany

I think my fondest memory would be of listening to the now defunct A Jolly Good Show. DLT was an excellent host and the programme was often filled with funny anecdotes and cracking jokes. Really missed it when it was eventually taken off the air. In fact, the World Service accompanied me throughout my teenage years. While most of my friends were hooked to local radio playing bubblegum pop, I was enthralled by the wide variety of programmes offered by the World Service. I have even imagined myself becoming a presenter, and saying "This is London"! (Not that I'm giving up this dream though!)
James L, Singapore

During my world wide service with the British Army and throughout 15 years here in Saudi, I've listened to many programmes on the World Service. Starting with football results and getting into sports and then music, not forgetting Letter From America. Keep it up! The world needs it!
Les Jones, Saudi Arabia

I remember the time when there was no democracy here. There was no freedom of speech. When the democracy movement started in 1990, we had no source to listen to an independent view of what was happening except the BBC. I remember that we used to collect round the shortwave radio and wait till it was 8:45 pm when the Nepali service starts. Without the BBC I don't know where would we have been. Keep it up.
Robin Chhetri, Nepal

For over half of my life I've relied on the World Service as the main source of news

Elzbieta Majocha, Poland/UK
In the summer of 1989 I heard on the World Service the announcement of the appointment of Poland's first democratically elected Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. In September that year, I was in East Germany and the feeling was that things were going to change! I couldn't believe what I was hearing in German, so I had to have it confirmed by the World Service.

In 1995 I moved to Edinburgh, and for the first time in nearly a decade I couldn't easily listen to your service, except after midnight. My husband was amazed that given the choice of goodness knows how many radio and TV stations I demanded that one. So we had cable TV - and hearing the WS signature tune, I felt at home again. I have just realised that for over half of my life I've relied on the World Service as the main source of news. Has the World Service influenced my life? What do you think? Thank you World Service.
Elzbieta Majocha, Poland/UK

I literally grew up in a radio shop. My father repaired them during WW2 when I was a child. I was changing speakers and tubes by the time I was 7. He had a short wave receiver, and could tune in the world. But, he would inevitably return to the BBC. Now, at 67, I enjoy the same experience I had as a child, but on the internet. I listen to WS as well as Radio 4. It's really the only place to find unbiased stories about us as well as the rest of the world. And, the bonus is NO commercials. Thank you again. M-A
Mary-Anne C. Watts, USA

As the son of a diplomat, the BBC was our one daily constant everywhere in the world. This habit has stayed with me for the last 40 years. None better.
Anand Seshadri, USA

As a child, I used to tune into the BBC via my shortwave radio

Daniel Swartz, Germany
As a child, I used to tune into the BBC via my shortwave radio, making me feel as if I had the world at my fingertips. News programmes, specials on the arts, history, music, sports and so many other subjects helped me learn so much about the world and its many cultures. Today I am able to have the world at my fingertips with its top-notch website, offering even more than what was available from my shortwave radio so many years ago. I wish the BBC the very best for the next 70 years and beyond!
Daniel Swartz, Germany

Since the 60s I have been listening to the BBC as a reliable source of information, providing the news. I began listening in Germany, now I listen in Thailand.
Wulf-Dieter Krueger, Thailand

Thanks BBC World Service radio for having taught me so much.
Mustafa Eric, Mongolia

I learned of earth shattering events like the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin

Melissa Thompson, USA
As a United States Peace Corps volunteer serving in Mauritania in the late 1990s, the BBC World Service radio became a critical link to the outside world for me. It was at times my only opportunity, aside from listening to myself, to hear English spoken. It was also how I learned of earth shattering events like the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Through these experiences I was also able to learn for the first time that not all media sources echoed the sentiments and style of American journalism and entertainment. Returned to the US for many years now, I still seek out news sources from around the world to make sure that I am exposed to more than one perspective on important issues.
Melissa Thompson, USA

Growing up in Shetland I was fairly cut of from the rest of the world. After getting my first radio I would sneak it on under the bed sheets and listen to the World Service. It brought the outside world to me and now that I am older I am visiting all those far flung corners.
Keith, UK

I first listened to the World Service as a boy of 12 or 13. Amongst all the strident or dull English-language programming of the mid 1970s, the World Service stood out for its highly intelligent and enjoyable broadcasts. I listened to the news voraciously and knew what was really going on around the world well before anyone at home. The chimes of Big Ben brought me to London every day and when I finally made it to the UK in 2001, I found myself going back to Whitehall numerous times just to hear the chimes I knew so well.
John Ladner, USA

My grandfather would make me tune to the BBC at supper in Peshawar

Khalid Rahim, Canada
Back in the 50s I would listen with my grandfather, who would make me tune to the BBC at supper in Peshawar. I was eight years old. Since then I have hardly missed the news or other favourite programs on my shortwave or television.
Khalid Rahim, Canada

I started listening to the World Service about seven years ago. Though I never won anything, the day it affected my life was when the programme on Favourite Political Song was going on. I sent an entry which was used as one of the on-air comments. I also loved True Lives. I again entered and mine was nominated, my picture was placed on the BBC website and television for more than two weeks, in the lead up to my birthday. I am grateful. Keep it up.
Anderson Emmy Snr, Nigeria

Before emigrating to England, I used to listen to the BBC World Service regularly. My clocks were set listening to the chimes of Big Ben. My favourite time, as a young adult, was to drive from Paris to Deauville (a two hour drive each way), sit on the beach listening to the news and shipping forecast, then stand up to listen to God Save the Queen. Then I'd drive back to Paris. Mad probably, but the BBC was my live link with the UK. Thanks for those memories.
Anthony, London, UK

Local Jeddah schoolchildren wore quizzical expressions at the sight of this daft Englishman rolling about in hysterics

Nigel Smales, UK
Between 1979-81, I was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. With no easy access to non-Arabic TV, my only way of keeping in touch with the big, wide world was BBC World Service radio. I couldn't get a good signal in my apartment so, early every morning, I would go out to listen to the news in my car, parked on a dusty street a short distance from a secondary school.

Once a week, the news was followed by the latest episode of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was fabulous to hear Douglas Adams' typically British brand of radio humour so far away from home. I don't know which was funnier - Ford Prefect, Slartibartfast and the rest, or the quizzical expressions of the passing local schoolchildren at the sight of this daft Englishman, sitting in his car at the crack of dawn, rolling about in hysterics. Soon, many of my friends from places like the USA, the Arab world, the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines were all tuning in too.

Later, we'd laugh together about the latest Hitch-hiker adventures over coffee, and everyone revelled in the unbiased and informative view of the world they all found on World Service. That's what World Service does - it makes the world a smaller, more accessible, better understood and friendly place. People everywhere trust it to tell it the way it is, without fear or favour. May this never change.
Nigel Smales, UK

In 1989 we were on holiday in Amsterdam, during November, when the Berlin Wall came down (we'd tossed a coin between going to Amsterdam or Berlin). There was no TV in our cheap Dutch hotel room, only a radio - so we tuned to the World Service. What a treat that was hearing the broadcasts from Berlin. The only regret is that we'd missed being in Berlin.
Dougie Lawson, UK

I discovered the world

Tommaso Debenedetti, Rome, Italy
BBC World Service is The radio station. Worldwide. I discovered the WS when I was 10 years old. I discovered BBC: the world, for me. Happy Birthday, my dear World Service!
Tommaso Debenedetti, Rome, Italy

I started listening to the Amidst all the sensationalised dirge that constitutes the modern day media, the BBC World Service has been and remains a shining example of balanced, educational radio. Perhaps if we had more radio like the WS we would not have to rely on the intrusive, commercial tripe that makes up modern day broadcasting.
Steve Perry, UK

I have been an expat for around 40 years. I have tried during this time to make my contact with "civilisation" through the BBC World Service from old valve sets to now new digital technology. I must say I enjoy hearing dear old Alistair Cook rambling on and the other programmes which abound with such interesting subjects. Yes the BBC has kept me sane when living in some pretty grim places. I only regret that it took so long to finally get a clear signal. I mean a 300 foot aerial strung between high trees in my garden in Malawi as I tuned into an old AR88LF marine band radio trying to catch Focus on Africa and at the same time listen to radio hams across the world was an experience. Thanks BBC for such wonderful programmes it has certainly kept me the right side of life. Long may it all continue! Why I even listen to it when I am in the UK on my visits! Good luck on your seventieth birthday!
Alan, Poland

Whilst a career soldier I served in many countries across the world and was grateful to be able to get the World Service to keep me abreast of the world's news in so unbiased a way. It is, in my experience, the most highly respected radio service in the world and creates an enormous amount of good will and reassurance for us as a nation. And to think someone was seriously contemplating shutting it down!
Peter Oakley, England

Keep up the good work

Betty, Nigeria
While my country is regarded as the nation with an epileptic power supply, nothing tears me away from my good old battery powered radio morn, noon and night. We have quite a number of stations but it's the manner of storytelling, light-hearted reporting, that takes you to the scene of a breaking story, that's what endears me to the BBC. I'm a journalist too, but beyond the journalistic mind, my mind's eye has been opened tremendously especially regarding places I may not ever be able to visit. I trust my dear radio (Bella) and the BBC to take me there. Keep up the good work!
Betty, Nigeria

I grew up listening to BBC World Service from the age of six, when I lived in India. Thanks to that - and my father's interest in educating me in all other possible ways - I am able to add a lot of value in my classes in Cambridge. I have deep contextual familiarity with world issues and people are amazed at the quality of my spoken and written English. Well even now the World Service is the only thing to listen to!
S Kumar, Berkshire, England

The best thing about BBC is the BBC World Service radio. It has become something of a relief from the tough schedule of my medicine studies which I am doing. The most memorable moment was the broadcast of the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales.
Maaz bin Badshah, Pakistan

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