Radio Ceylon: The Radio Station Sir Edmund Hillary Listened To While Making The 1st Known Successful Summit Of Mt. Everest.
.by Anura Guruge
This is a precursor article to one that I want to write on Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Independence Day on February 4.
Radio Ceylon, originally known as Colombo Radio, is the oldest radio station in Asia.
It was started on an experimental basis, within the Telegraph Department, in 1923.
The original transmitting equipment came from a captured German submarine.
The 1923 inception puts it just 3 years behind the start of radio broadcasting in Europe!
As the above images attest, it claimed to be the most powerful Commercial Radio Station in Asia.
My goal here is just to provide a head’s up on this historic radio station, the only one that I had access to until I got my hands on a shortwave radio when I was about 8.
Over the last few years I have met two young Americans, both with degrees, that had spent 3 months or more in New Zealand, one of them a member of the U.S. Ski Team had gone there to ski. I had asked both of them as to who was the most famous New Zealander. Neither could give me a name. That surprised me. They had never heard of Sir Edmund Hillary, though as far as I know he still appears on their $5 bill. I would have also accepted Richard Hadlee, Glenn Turner or Bev Congdon.
Edmund Hillary, on May 29, 1953, became the first CONFIRMED person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, with and Tenzing Norgay (as he has later stated) a few steps behind. The reason that the first ‘confirmed’ has to be used is that it is possible that the British George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who both perished on the mountain in 1934 trying to summit, might have succeeded individually or together before their deaths. Edmund and Tenzing were well aware of it and it has never been an issue.
In my mid-20s, i.e., mid-1970s, I was totally fascinated by Mt. Everest. My father tells me that I have seen it, from the air, in 1956 when he took us all on an extended jaunt around India. But, I was only 3. I do remember getting on the first plane from Colombo to India. It is my first real memory. I remember bits, but not Mt. Everest (assuming we actually went that far North, i.e., to the Nepal border). I think I have read every major book, written in English, about Everest. I still have a few Everest books, three of which, one by Edmund, the other by the team leader Colonel Hunt and another about Tenzing, are quite old, and I assume are rare by now.
In my readings I remember reading that Edmund listened to Radio Ceylon while he was camping, atop the mountain, close to the summit. I wanted to make sure I captured that. But, I didn’t have to worry. Somebody else had also made sure that it would be captured and stored on the Web for posterity.
So I can conclude this post. I will refer to it, with luck, in the next few days.