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DSA Era Group 1959 to 1976, those under Wardens Davidson, Selveratnam and Annadanayagam

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Old 12-07-17, 01:17 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is online now
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Default Dr Vijaya Corea

Fuelled by zeal

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 01:00

Malathi Perera

An impressive figure, an inimitable voice, a veteran with the gush of words to suit the audience – all this goes on to describe Dr Vijaya Corea. Born in Corea Walauwa to Dr C V S Corea and Amybelle Corea, Vijaya Corea was educated at S. Thomas College, Mt Lavinia. Music ran in his genes as his father was a violinist and his mother sat at the Piano, both being lovers of English Classical Music.

Q: What was your starting point?

A: That was a divine appointment. It was in 1963 that I happened to step into Radio Ceylon to meet my cousin, Vernon Corea who then was in a panic situation; the American Guest Artiste who had not arrived to take part in the programme. I ended up hesitantly taking his place and handling the ‘birthday spot’ on the children’s’ programme Kiddies Corner. When I heard my own voice on the air, I said to myself wow.

With high spirit, I crept into Radio Ceylon on the following Saturday too expecting my cousin to give me another opportunity. But he said no, and there are rules. I cannot do that. Last time, it was an exigency. Crestfallen, I returned home and told my father who contacted his patient and good friend, Livy Wijemanne, Director/Commercial Service regarding my inspiration.

The net result was that I continued regularly thereafter.

I was 21 then. Joe Sothinathan who recognised me on the road told me to look up the Government Gazette and apply for the Relief Announcer’s Post. Consequently, I emerged number one from among 350 applicants.

Q: And you remained faithful to broadcasting and gave up on other career prospects?

A: While I was on the air, Zellers Confectionaries Managing Director Ariyapala Samaraweera insisted that I be the Presenter of their programme Limelighters with Zellers. From then on, I was known to be the most popular commercial broadcaster. I was personally remunerated by the advertisers. Having taken to broadcasting like a duck to water and having realised that I was earning more than the salary of a Chartered Accountant which then was Rs 1500, I gave up Accountancy and hung on this line.

Q: What was the feeling like when you captured the microphone for the first time?

A: My first opportunity was to compere the relay of the Regatta Ball from the Rowing Club live on the air with the Harold Seneviratne Combo on the bandstand. When I was invited for the first time to compere a dance, the organisers offered to compensate me for my professional services with a bottle on the table, plenty of cigarettes and a good time. I refused point blank and insisted on a fee. I am proud to say, even if humbly, that it is I who made being a Master of Ceremonies a fee earning profession. That was in 1965.

Q: You came to be known as Sri Lanka’s number one compere. I think you still are. In your heyday, there was no big show or dance without you being the compere. Am I correct?

A: At times there were very tight schedules. One Saturday, I was in Kandy engaged to compere the Sooriya Show at St. Anthony’s Hall, Katugastota and in Colombo thereafter to compere a Dinner Dance at the Ceylinco Ballroom. On another occasion, similarly from Galle to Colombo. I catered to all with zeal and no hesitation.

Q: But you managed to strike a balance between the SLBC and the freelance work?

A: The Morning Show on the English Commercial Service every Wednesday was compiled by me. Many who were listeners in the 1960s and 70s remember even today how I used to begin with my signature tune ‘In the Mood’.

Later that year on a certain morning when I was rostered to be on the air on the All Asia service and to read the news on the internal service, there was a big commotion and pandemonium in the corridor - the Sinhala Announcer had not arrived and there were just five minutes for the morning transmission to begin. With a big question, all crippled!

I took a unilateral decision in the interest of the Radio Station to commence the English Transmission 45 seconds in advance and then proceeded to the Sinhala Studio and presented the first programme until the Sinhala Relief Announcer for whom transport had been sent arrived. Again, I received a letter of commendation from the Chairman/Director General appreciating the stand I took which had saved the image of the Radio Station and also prevented a loss of revenue.

Q: You have been referred to as a star maker. How did you bring and promote this chain of musicians?

A: I wanted to open the doors for the gifts and talents of Sri Lankan musicians and singers to be brought to the fore. I presented a programme titled Saturday Star each week at 9 pm. Those whom I featured on the programme included Los Caballeros, La Ceylonians, Pink and Purple, Clarence, Annesley and the Moonstones, Indrani Perera and the Three Sisters, La Bambas, Los Flamencos, Dharmaratne Brothers and many others. Paul Fernando, the Gypsies and Milton Mallawarachchi were also introduced for the first time to listening audiences by me. Famous singers like C T Fernando, H R Jothipala and M S Fernando were given a new lease of life on the showbiz scene as I promoted them on my programmes on the air.

Q: What are your happiest memories?

A: When I became the first ever presenter in Sri Lanka on television during the worldwide telecast of the fifth Non-Aligned Conference which took place at BMICH and was covered by Yugoslav Radio Television (YAGREB).

Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Vijaya Corea on 13/02/2017

Vijaya Corea was conferred the Award of ''Prathibha Pranama'' after receiving special honours at the State Radio Award Ceremony held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena.

He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his unparalleled service and contribution to Radio in Sri Lanka.

The Award referenced his phenomenal presence and influence across Radio history from the 1960's right upto the present, and acknowledged Corea for his lifetime contribution to the English media in this country.

Source : https://youtu.be/SUd2BFHMGMk

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Last edited by sriyanj; 17-10-17 at 03:10 PM.
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