Gardening guru calls time on 50-year radio run
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.”
TINO CARNEVALE’S GARDENING COLUMN TASSIE LIVING MAGAZINE