Radio daze 9. – the not so “Golden Days of Radio “

The Ghost Who Walks…………..

Broadcaster Jim Archer was one of nature’s gentlemen.  After many years at “the Brighter 3KZ” Jim moved to 3AW.

He read breakfast news and weekend shifts, and it was during a Saturday afternoon sports shift that Jim went to the Big Studio in the Sky.

His role during the football coverage wasn’t all that demanding – hosting up to the preview before the game then crossing to the commentary team at the MCG (on this Saturday) for description of play.

After that he’d play the VB (Victoria Bitter) beer commercials on a cue from the ground and he’d read the news at half time.

The operator at the “G” “flashed” Jim to play a commercial at quarter time, but nothing happened, so the commentators continued on with their review of play so far.  Back in the studio Jim was slumped over the panel – struck down by a massive heart attack.

He wasn’t found until half time when a journalist from the newsroom was delivering the scripts for the bulletin, but by then it was too late…. Jim was dead.

I turned up for my Sunday breakfast shift at 5.29, unaware of the previous days drama.  The mid-dawn announcer told me the sad news, and it was with some trepidation I settled into the same seat in the same studio that Jim died in 18 hours earlier.

Now I’m not particularly superstitious or spook easily but something happened that morning that I’ll never forget.

The studio wall immediately behind where I sat was covered by heavy curtaining, floor to ceiling and across its full width. Twenty minutes into my shift out of the corner of my eye I detected a gentle, rhythmic movement of the curtain. It wasn’t the air conditioning, that wasn’t on, and in the air tight studio there was absolutely no draft.  There was no one else in the studio block; the newsroom was in a separate building.  I was all alone. Or was I?

I put it down to my vivid imagination…yes that’s what it was…. imagination.  When I stared straight at the curtains there was no movement at all….”bloody imagination.”

Not five minutes later I saw it again, swaying gently. Back and forth.  Oh! Shit!. I plucked up the courage to pull back the drapes…. To my relief…Nothing!

Back to the console, back announced a  record, station call sign and introduced The Ray Conniff singers.  Just then the curtain began its little jiggle, but this time I also heard something.  I turned the monitor down, and there it was, a low muffled thump, a pause and then another thump.

Now the studio wall was the back of the building, a two-foot solid concrete wall and that backed onto another solid concrete wall, part of the W & G recording studios. I knew they weren’t working at 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning.

I started to feel a bit uneasy, now had I ever said a bad word against Jim? No, we got on together pretty well, everyone loved Jim, he was Mr. Nice Guy.

Then why was he scaring the shit out of me?

The vibrating curtains and the intermittent thump accompanied me for the rest of my shift but I grew accustomed to it after a while.  I think I might have even started talking to him – I mean IT!

It wasn’t until Monday that the full story was revealed.  A perfectly simple explanation…W & G were remodelling their studios , knocking out an internal wall, and the best time to do it was when nobody was around, hence Sunday morning.

So it wasn’t dear old Jim after all. But the story goes if you wander past the 3AW record library late at night you might hear a gentle humming to the strains of Mantovani – it’s just Jim selecting his final program.

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