Long before we had FM radio and their 24/7 offering of music or ‘RJs’ to interact with, we had the single option of Radio Pakistan to provide news and entertainment. And in that single option was the smooth, sophisticated, suave voice of Edward (“Eddie” to his fond listeners) Carrapiett, holding the fort for the English language offerings.
Carrapiett, who started his career with Radio Pakistan as a newsreader in 1956, passed away in February this year. He is fondly remembered and missed by the many fans of English music who regularly tuned in for a dose of the latest hits or classical music.
We need to look at the landscape back then to appreciate how Carrapiett was a part of so many lives and what his contribution meant. Radio Pakistan, as already mentioned, was the sole local source of news and music; PTV (established in 1964) was another sole provider for many years to come. Avid radio listeners tuned in to BBC, Voice of America and even Radio Ceylon for more choice. Music at home came from gramophones (record players) where you played vinyl discs at either 33 or 45 rpm. Tape recorders came in later and were big and bulky. It is worth noting that only a very few families had these players and essentially, you did not have the luxury of portable music until much later.
Radio was our window to the world with entire families gathered around for news updates. The assassination of President John Kennedy, the 1965 war with India, man’s first landing on the moon – these are the epic milestones we remember. Also as a staple, we had the monthly address of President Ayub Khan to tune in to. So yes, things were quite different then.
Radio Pakistan had two slots for English music – one at 1:30 p.m. and the other at 10:30 p.m. Regular Western music lovers eagerly awaited this sliver of light. (Radio broadcasts were on what was known as ‘short wave’ and ‘medium wave’ frequencies). The afternoon shows were hosted by young women groomed by Carrapiett, while he did the honours himself in the evenings. Here, I must mention the invaluable contributions of (late) Max Nazareth who provided much of the music.
Another fine contribution of the enterprising Carrapiett was the introduction of the ‘Local Talent’ Show on Radio Pakistan. Young musicians – mainly teenagers swept up in the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, et al – auditioned and performed with great enthusiasm. It was an exciting time as I recall, even though our band did not make the cut!
Carrapiett was born in 1936 in New Delhi, the fourth of five children. His parents were Marie Therese and Edward Macatoon Carrapiett. His eldest brother Ivor, a fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force, was shot down in 1948 during the first Kashmir war with Pakistan just after Partition. Carrapiett is survived by his wife Violette, a younger brother, John (ironically, a former fighter pilot for the Pakistan Air Force) in Adelaide.
Carrapiett completed his higher education in Karachi in 1955 and began his career in sound broadcasting in Radio Pakistan in 1956 as an English newsreader and compére in popular, as well as classical Western music. He became a household name by the early sixties as radio gained popularity and he went on to TV in the mid-seventies. Among his success stories as a reporter/ compére were his interviews with The Beatles in 1964 (on their way to Australia), Marlon Brando, Agatha Christie and other well-known personalities from the arts and theatre.
Pakistan’s importance in world politics attracted visits from eminent leaders (heads of state and governments) and Carrapiett was fortunate to be able to speak to many of them, including Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Premier Chou En-Lai of China and President Richard Nixon of the USA.
Carrapiett completed his higher education in Karachi in 1955 and began his career in sound broadcasting in Radio Pakistan in 1956 as an English newsreader and compére in popular, as well as classical Western music. He became a household name by the early sixties as radio gained popularity and he went on to TV in the mid-seventies.
In 1970, Carrapiett was reunited in Karachi with Violette Manuel, whom he knew as a neighbour in Allahabad, India, some 20 years earlier. Violette had left India in 1949 to settle in England. They were married in 1973 in Karachi and in 1980, they emigrated to the UK.
Following a successful career in Pakistan as a media personality, Carrapiett initially worked in the UK with the Inner London Probation Services. He went on to qualify in Social Work at Kingston University in 1988-89 and took up his first job as a Probation Officer in Sutton in Surrey. This was a truly dramatic change for him, but he enjoyed his work transferring to West Sussex in 1992, based in Littlehampton. He took early retirement in 2001 after which a variety of voluntary pursuits in the parish and community occupied him and provided much satisfaction.
Violette retired in 1992 and they were able to continue their shared interests in church and community work, travelling and going to the theatre and concerts. They devoted much time and personal resources to helping the less fortunate, first while in London, and then in West Sussex.
In 2011, Carrapiett underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation and never regained his self-confidence and robust health as complications with depression and anxiety took their toll. He was a loyal husband and friend and will be greatly missed by Violette, family and personal friends, as well as many others who encountered him in his lifetime.
Edward Carrapiett will be missed by many.
Leon Menezes is a professor-of-practice at the IBA-Karachi.