Gar­den­ing guru calls time on 50-year ra­dio run

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - PENNY McLEOD

BELOVED gar­dener Peter Cun­dall has re­tired from talk­back ra­dio af­ter 50 years of an­swer­ing lis­ten­ers’ ques­tions and “ex­chang­ing ideas” with them.

The 91-year-old made the an­nounce­ment at the end of the ABC Ra­dio Ho­bart Satur­day Week­ends show yes­ter­day.

It fol­lows his re­tire­ment from var­i­ous writ­ing roles, in­clud­ing as the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian gar­den­ing colum­nist, mid-year.

He’s been broad­cast­ing once a week, al­most 52 weeks each year since his first talk­back show went to air on a com­mer­cial ra­dio sta­tion in Launce­s­ton in 1968.

“I went into the stu­dio and as soon as we started the switch­board was jammed,” Cun­dall said.

“We could not be­lieve it. We sud­denly re­alised that out there was an ex­tra­or­di­nary au­di­ence who loved to grow things and wanted to know how to solve their lit­tle prob­lems.”

A year later, Cun­dall moved to ABC TV and ra­dio, and his lis­ten­ers have been tun­ing in ever since.

He said he felt grat­i­tude to both his au­di­ence and the show’s host, Chris Wis­bey, with whom he co-pre­sented the seg­ment for many years.

“It wasn’t me act­ing as some kind of or­a­cle, or know-all about gar­den­ing. It was an ex­change of ideas about gar­den­ing. That’s the power of the pro­gram,” Cun­dall said.

He es­pe­cially en­joyed hear­ing lis­ten­ers’ ver­sions of Percy Grainger’s English Coun­try Gar­den broad­cast at the start of each show.

“One of the best was by a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chemist who was a bril­liant whistler,” he said.

He hopes to do one fi­nal broad­cast with Chris Wis­bey next year, when Wis­bey re­turns from leave.

“I will never re­tire — I’ll al­ways be out in the gar­den,” Cun­dall said.

“I’m al­most 92 but I’m in per­fect health, ex­cept for my old-geezer’s eyes.”


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