TIME served in Kenya with the King’s African Army, 20 years of British Military service across 26 countries, half a life with the State Emergency Services and almost 70 years in radio, Kalamunda’s Norman Campbell is not slowing down.
The 86-year-old Kalamunda Community Radio presenter first dabbled with broadcasting in 1951 while stationed in Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.
“When I started in Japan with the Australian Forces Broadcasting Service they wouldn’t let me speak on air because I had a pommy accent,” he said.
“So I was able to do things like open doors and have things gallop across the table and make sounds for the plays, that’s about all they’d let me do.”
His fascination followed him during his service in East Africa where he wrote and produced programs for three radio stations, including one entirely spoken in Swahili.
He continued his passion in Hong Kong and later back in Britain.
Soon after he emigrated to Perth in 1972 he swapped military service for the State Emergency Services where he volunteered for 42 years and earnt himself a national service medal.
Mr Campbell was one of the original committee members who started the Kalamunda Community Radio two decades ago.
“I was 64-years-old, I was hoping (former employer) Ansett wouldn’t notice I was close to 65 and I could keep working but at 64-and-a-half I was retrenched,” he said.
“That was on the Friday, and on Monday I saw an advert in the paper for a meeting of people who wanted to form a community radio station in Kalamunda.
“I swapped a full-time paid job for a full-time unpaid job…it kept my brain working.”
The community radio station is looking to expand from its current location at Gooseberry Hill Hall.
“I think community radio station is vital to every community, particularly Kalamunda,” he said.
“Really, it’s a country town, you can call it a City, but really it’s a country town and all country towns have that cohesion that a community radio can help bring today.”
Although he has taken a step back from management roles to allow the next generation to make its own way, he said he will stay on the air “until they carry me away in a box”.
“It keeps my brain active,” he said.
“Putting the program together and looking at the background of the entertainers it keeps me active.”
Catch Mr Campbell’s show Free and Easy alternating Sundays, 1pm to 3pm.
By Claire Ottaviano