November 2011

The Journalist ....

On leaving school back in the 1970’s, before it was possible to get a university degree in almost anything, I cut my journalistic teeth as an apprentice on my local Norfolk newspaper, The Lynn News and Advertiser.

The bright lights of London beckoned and I entered the world of corporate journalism, in the form of writing for two in-house, business magazines for Unilever.

It was a short hop across the choppy North Sea to Eindhoven, Holland, and the world headquarters of Philips. From within their press office I produced “Philips News” – an English-language publication for Philips management around the world.

I hadn’t expected to find myself in the multi-national expat world; but after marrying a Chilean in Holland, our bags were packed and marked with the destination: Kitwe, Zambia. With journalism in my blood, I was keen to pass on my experience and soon discovered many adult students who wanted to listen to my teachings at The Africa Literature Centre, where I was gainfully employed during our first overseas posting.

Communicator of the Year Award - 2007

With a stamp in my passport denying me the right to work (even for charity); the strict regime of Saudi Arabia proved more of a challenge. However, during the four-and-a-half year stay in Riyadh, I was correspondent for the Middle East Economic Digest. In Saudi Arabia I was also introduced to the wonderful world of radio -in the form of contributing to Radio Riyadh’s English service.  Here I learned to enjoy the spontaneity of the world of radio where it doesn’t matter if you struggle with spelling!

The Harboe family (now including two small children) returned to The Netherlands in the mid-eighties before settling in Southern Spain in 1989. It was here that the “radio bug” returned and I was soon part of the pioneering team of Coastline Radio. Based on the eastern Costa del Sol, this was the first all English-speaking radio station in the country.My next move was to Onda Cero International in Marbella. This was the international arm of Onda Cero, a Spanish nationwide network broadcasting throughout Spain and the islands.

In addition to being responsible for researching and producing Spanish news bulletins in English, I was also presenting the daily magazine programme and writing a monthly column for the UK publication Homes Overseas. Other special projects during this period included a summer outside broadcast from a yacht moored in the jet- set playground of Puerto Banus; the production of a Costa del Sol supplement and DVD for the Sunday Times Travel magazine; and interviews and magazine articles with various celebrities including Esther Rantzen, Julian Lloyd Webber, and Zandra Rhodes.
Radio Europe Mediterraneo ( was launched in 2004 and from the studios in southern Spain and outside broadcast shopping centre locations I undoubtedly produced the best programmes of my career so far. Hosting the daily magazine programme – including the special weekly Book Show – and interviewing many world famous authors, celebrities and specialist guests was a tremendous pleasure. It also provided me with the opportunity to contribute to BBC Radio 4’s “A World in Your Ear” ‘showcasing the best English language radio on the planet’; as well as providing correspondent reports and news pieces to various UK networks.

Following the horrific events of the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami , I travelled to Sri Lanka to report on the journey of the aid collected by the people of Southern Spain and Gibraltar. I won the Communicator of the Year Award in 2006 for the series of programmes I recorded during a repeat visit the following year: “The Tsunami One Year On” charting the reconstruction process.