I  remain sad and surprised at the way wholesale destruction of the BBC’s local radio network prompted little more than a few whimpers of disapproval and grudging  acceptance for “necessary cuts to  move with these digital  times”

My feelings, of course, are bound to be influenced by close involvement as a member of the pioneering team set up to launch Radio Norfolk in 1980 as “your new neighbour”, destined to become a firm friend to so many across the airwaves.

Stirring memories of those early adventures compiled on the accumulator of experience come over loud and clear following the recent death at 93 of first station manager Mike Chaney and retirement news of two long-serving colleagues also there at the start.

After honing his journalistic skills on Fleet Street newspapers and marking a bold BBC start  by introducing Newsbeat to Radio One and editing  the flagship Today programme, charismatic Chaney relished the challenge of adding Norfolk to a growing list of local wireless operators.

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to character actor James Robertson Justice, best remembered for playing irascible chief surgeon Sir Lancelot Spratt in the popular Doctor film series, the leader selected to dispense a new brand of broadcasting medicine across my home patch  soon fashioned an infectious team spirit at Norfolk Tower with the help of programme organise Peter Glanville and news editor Ian Hyams.

The Chaney Gang, selected for its diverse talents from an application list stretching well past 700, featured several with considerable airtime experience  in other parts of the country At the start, there were no strict demarcation lines – a horses-for-courses policy became established in the second year - as the far-reaching  idea was to groom  a staff of enthusiastic  all-rounders

Jill Bennett and I waved our Norfolk flags as experienced local newspaper recruits. She covered local government and politics on the Eastern Daily Press while my 17-year stint with notebook and pen included seven seasons as Norwich City football correspondent after pounding the mean streets of Thetford, Norwich Evening News: Mike ChaneyDereham and Great Yarmouth as weekly newshound.

Jill remained at the microphone for over 40 years, with 25 of them devoted to reporting from her west Norfolk base. Her sterling service  to the BBC cause in this area drew  justified praise on her retirement in February just as  local lament intensified awhile for widespread loss of a vital home-made service that had proved its worth since those heady days of 1980,

Another BBC stalwart. with nearly half-a-century of radio and tv service behind him - including a productive stint on that early Norfolk beat – has announced he will retire from sporting coverage after this summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Rob Bonnet joined the  initial Norfolk line-up from Radio Brighton and impressed with technical expertise to go with a natural flair for broadcasting. Our mutual interest in sport, particularly football, helped ease me through the opening trials of studio and outdoor presentation and production, although he soon gave up trying to enlighten me about how to contact the radio car or work telephones on air.

He was game for a laugh as we joined forces for what was destined to become  a warm-up run for the Dinnertime Show from Cell 33. He transformed instantly into The Great Bonetti as we presented the first high-wire act live on radio as natural successor to  ventriloquist Peter Brough and dummy Archie Andrews a few decades earlier.

Rob also excelled as Norfolk’s answer to television private investigator Eddie Shoestring, played by Trevor Eve, and gave vibrant life to the ways and whims of my old friend Bertie Bootlace, who probed  and prevaricated around the shady lanes and high-rise apartments of East Winch.

It is a measure of station manager Chaney’s commitment to individual enterprise on behalf of programme presenters that helped me set out my stall as a passionate indigenous remnant glad of the chance to extol virtues of a delightfully different corner of the broadcasting empire.

He twinkled and chortled where other bosses might have laid down the law and warned against upsetting a traditional pattern of all due reverence  towards national and regional BBC ways of doing things.

He sent round personal “herograms” and invitations to join the staff outing for a celebration meal at the end of opening weeks of his reign. He refused to be fobbed off by bigwigs from London pleading poverty when he asked for more resources to sustain this new venture’s much-vaunted early impact.

He set a bold and witty example most successors were bound to find  too hard to follow in cost-cutting times … but those Chaney chapters of cheerful enterprise and proper parochial pride certainly warrant a more fitting legacy than the lingering mystery about why something so vibrant and valuable could be brutally switched off  with scarcely a murmur of regret.