Soon after Spectrum began in 1972, Hop Owen and Jack Perkins flexed their muscles and produced All the Queen’s Men, a recreation of the battle at Gate Pā, Tauranga in 1864 between colonial forces and Māori. The programme broke new ground. Spectrum hired a dozen actors as well as teams of Pākehā and Māori to do battle and a stretch of farmland was turned into something resembling a film set rather than a radio production.
Spectrum wasn’t just tied to history – wing stands on a tiger moth in full flight, hang gliding, accompanying SAS recruits on a ‘test to destruction’ – nothing daunted Spectrum.
Hop Owen’s satirical pen pushed other boundaries – he poked fun at the traditional Kiwi wedding and end-of-year school speeches, brought Queen Victoria to colonial New Zealand disguised as a highland gentleman, introduced a bit of acid into the syrup surrounding the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in 1981.
By the 1980s, Spectrum was also recording overseas, particularly the Australian outback and their prolific oral history output provided grist for several books.
In the second of two programmes, Spectrum’s co-founders, Alwyn (Hop) Owen and Jack Perkins continue their chat about the life and times of Spectrum.
Listen to some of the original Spectrums referred to in this programme
1 Apr 1973
A satirical recreation by Alwyn Owen of the good old Kiwi wedding. Narrated by Bill Toft. Audio
Spectrum's microphones travelled Wellington's streets for several weeks to capture this evocation in sound. Audio
A nostalgic tribute to that most humble and human New Zealand institution, the dunny. The long-drop, the three-holer, the users, the emptiers, the designers, and, of course, the good-old night-cart… Audio
Compiled from official sources combined with eye-witness accounts, some previously untapped, this is a graphic reconstruction of New Zealand`s most famous manhunt in 1941, produced by Jack Perkins. Audio
An amazing document has been 'discovered' in one of our research libraries by the Spectrum team. In Queen Victoria's own handwriting, it details how she visited this country incognito in 1882… Audio
1 Nov 1982
Elsa Davis was Melbourne's unofficial Poet Laureate, and composer extraordinary. With enthusiasm and devotion, she chronicles events in song. She talks to Alwyn Owen, and demonstrates her talent… Audio
His years as overseer of the Nelson tip have brought Jim Hargreaves into contact with all kinds of people and their rubbish. Jack Perkins joins Jim during a busy Saturday morning down at the dump. Audio
Bernie Chaney tells Jack Perkins about deer culling in 1948 and breeding long legged dogs for hunting deer. Audio
Gallery: Just a few of the team of Spectrum producers over the years