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Take a radio trip back in time

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To celebrate World Radio Day on 13 February, Ford South Africa highlights some rock and pop music milestones over the past several decades.

From in-car AM to FM radio, eight-track tape players to cassette tape decks, in-car CD players to iPods and beyond, we’ve come a long way in how we listen to music in our cars.

To celebrate World Radio Day on 13 February, Ford South Africa highlights some rock and pop music milestones over the past several decades. And classic rock aficionado Benjy Mudie, host of ‘The Jukebox on 702’, takes us on a trip down memory lane, sharing some of his favourite memories of listening to music on the car radio.

1950s

“Back in the late Fifties, when I was a young boy, whenever Bill Haley and His Comets’ ‘Rock Around The Clock’ used to come on the radio, I remember my dad turning it up and pointing to the big dial of the car clock.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1950 – Peter Gabriel is born. One of the founders and original lead singer of Genesis, he goes on to have a successful solo career. In 1987, the now-iconic video for his song ‘Sledgehammer’ rakes in a record nine MTV Video Music Awards, still the most wins for a single video in the VMAs to this day.

1960s

“My dad loved muscle cars, and in the early Sixties he had a red Ford Fairlane 500. When The Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ used to come on the radio, I remember we kids used to scream out the “yeah, yeah, yeah” part of the chorus.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1961 – Frank Sinatra launches his own label, Reprise, under Warner Bros Records. Although he vows he will never sign any rock artists, Reprise will go on to become the home of many influential US acts, including Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and The Beach Boys.

13 February 1967 – The Beatles release the double A-sided single ‘Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane’ on Capitol Records in the US, which peaks at #1 on the charts.

1970s

“When I worked in the EMI stores in 1974 and 1975, I had an old, fawn-coloured Ford Prefect that my folks helped me buy. It had an eight-track and radio combo, with four large and loud speakers that blasted LM Radio until it was shut down by the Frelimo government in 1975. The song I remember turning up whenever it played was The Who`s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1972 – Led Zeppelin is forced to cancel a concert in Singapore when officials won’t let them off the plane because of their long hair.

13 February 1973 – Elvis Presley takes ill during a concert in Las Vegas. He is attended to by Dr Sidney Bowers, who is later gifted with a white Lincoln Continental (produced by Lincoln, a division of the Ford Motor Company), in appreciation for his services.

13 February 1974 – Robbie Williams is born. In 1990, the then-16-year-old is the youngest member to join Take That. After he quits the boy band in 1995, he goes on to have a hugely successful solo career, becoming the best-selling British solo artist in the UK, with a record 18 Brit Awards under his belt, and also the best-selling non-Latino artist in Latin America.

1980s

“In 1981, I remember AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ ruling the airwaves. During my time working for WEA Records (later Tusk Music), I listened constantly to radio in the car, flipping through the dial, checking what WEA tracks were being played by each station. The one I heard the most in 1983 was éVoid’s ‘Shadows’, which was a huge buzz for me as they were hometown friends of mine (I played bass in the original band), and I had signed them to WEA.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1982 – Pink Floyd’s album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ marks 402 weeks in the charts. Released in March 1973, the now-legendary album has racked up more than 1 500 weeks on the Billboard chart – a record that has yet to be broken, and continues to sell around 8 500 copies a week.

13 February 1988 – Michael Jackson buys a ranch in California which he names Neverland, after the fantasy island in the story of ‘Peter Pan’, about a boy who never grows up. Neverland becomes the artist’s private residence, and the grounds contain, amongst other things, his own amusement park and petting zoo.

13 February 1989 – The Brit Awards is hosted by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood. Winners include Phil Collins for British Male Solo Artist, Annie Lennox for British Female Solo Artist, Erasure for Best British Group, Fairground Attraction’s ‘First of a Million Kisses’ for Best British Album, Bros for British Breakthrough Act, Michael Jackson for International Male Solo Artist, Tracey Chapman for International Female Solo Artist, and U2 for Best International Group.

1990s

“In 1998 I started my own label, Fresh Music. That same year, local band Egyptian Nursery had a huge radio hit with ‘God`s Window’, and I always turned that up in my car, because they were my first signing.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1996 – Take That announce they are disbanding, prompting the UK government to set up counselling phone lines for distraught fans. Across the pond that same day, Tupac Shakur releases his fourth studio album ‘All Eyez on Me’. He will pass away in Las Vegas exactly seven months later.

Beyond 2000

“I still listen to car radio, but generally avoid the mainstream stations who play generic wallpaper pop. I mainly listen to Hot 91.9 for classic pop and soul, and Mix FM for classic rock. Plus every so often I dial over to Classic FM for chill tunes, and when I really feel I need some happy time, it’s Bollywood tunes on Radio Lotus. Although I host ‘The Jukebox on 702’, I never listen to myself.” – Benjy Muddy

13 February 2005 – Readers of ‘The Sun’ newspaper vote George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ the greatest British pop single of the past 25 years.

13 February 2012 – Adele wins all six categories she is nominated for at the Grammy Awards.

13 February 2015 – Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album ‘Shadows in the Night’ debuts at #1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, and #7 on the Billboard 200.

Ford SYNC

The sophisticated in-car infotainment systems available in new Ford vehicles today have almost 90 years of development behind them. And the latest generation of Ford Motor Company’s award-winning SYNC system is at the cutting edge of this technology.

Besides being able to tune into your favourite radio stations, or play your favourite music, it offers a myriad other features like voice-guided navigation, live traffic information, estimated travel time, and voice commands to make hands-free calls, read text messages through the speakers (SYNC even understands emoticons and popular abbreviations), send quick replies by selecting from a list of pre-set text responses, listen to voicemail, and climate control.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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