42 years ago, four young University of Cape Town students applied to represent UCT in the annual Castle Lager Sports Quiz, held throughout the country as sports clubs pitted themselves against each other to become the South African Sports Quiz Champions. Quiz master was Mornay Pretorius and MC, Paddy O’Byrne both Springbok Radio stalwarts.
Through concentrating probably more on their sports knowledge rather than academic curricula, the four managed to be crowned the 1974 Champions. As amateurs they were not allowed to compete for prize money but a swift solution was found – convert the winnings in to the sponsor’s product : Castle Lager beer. Over 10,000 bottles were provided to a grateful UCT Rugby Club and the participants never had to buy a beer!
Tributes were paid to the coaches – journalists Dan Retief, Archie Henderson and Michael Owen-Smith and the manager, the legendary Springbok no8 and SA Breweries manager, Doug Hopwood.
Remember Springbok Radio?
On 1 May 1950, the first commercial radio station in South Africa, Springbok Radio took to the airwaves broadcasting in both English and Afrikaans. The service started at 06h43 with the music Vat Jou Goed en Trek, Ferreira. The first voice heard on the air that morning was that of Eric Egan. Eric would be well remembered for his daily “Corny Crack” and catch phrase “I Looooveee Yoouuu”.
Many of the drama programmes during the 1950s were imported from Australia but as time moved on and more funding became available, Springbok Radio produced almost all of its programmes within South Africa through a network of independent production houses. By the end of 1950, thirty percent of all Springbok Radio shows were produced by South Africans talent or material and independent productions were sold to sponsors through the organisations sales team. At the same time all air time had been sold or used up and the transmission times was extended. By the end of 1950 the revenue contribution of Springbok Radio was ₤205,439, in 1961 it had grown to over two million Rand and by 1970 had reached R6.5 million.
However, in the 1980s the SABC ended up killing off many of these independent production houses when Springbok Radio closed down. If it was not for these production houses, Springbok Radio would not have survived. Almost 90% of programming came from them.
In 1976 television was launched in South Africa and this was followed by television commercials in 1978. Commercial TV was the major factor in the demise of Springbok Radio, which was very much dependent on advertising revenue. Springbok Radio closed on 31 December 1985.
Although many tapes of the shows were used over and over again to save costs, some programmes still remain and can be accessed from South African Rarities.com.