3AW banned The Beatles – Almost!
Before television really became the big game in town radio could still pull a crowd in public, at outside broadcasts.
3AW had an OB van the was towed to locations around Melbourne for major events or if a sponsor wanted to draw attention to their business i.e. car yard opening, furniture store sale or even the Melbourne Motor Show.
It was pretty tiresome for the world weary announcers but for young panel operators it was the closest thing we got to being treated like rock stars.
Tony Doherty was an old hand, a smooth operator who knew how to schmooze the clients.
Invariably at some stage during his afternoon shift TD would bring out what he called his “Spotlight” album, a piece of musical genius he though was so good he would feature three, if not four songs played one after the other without interruption.
The first time I heard him doing the introduction for his Spotlight album I was so impressed that he stepped out side the norms of commercial presentation to let an album just track through, silence between tracks and all.
The illusion evaporated the moment TD finished his intro and left the OB van in great haste. A call of nature I thought. But no, 12 minutes later TD returned glass of scotch in hand and reeking of booze.
The Spotlight album was TD’s cue to raid the sponsor drink cupboard.
A number of times panel operators were known to have to go and retrieve TD as the Spotlight album entered its final track. On one occasion I even had to flip the album over.
The real highlight for we budding DJ’s came at the end of the broadcast. The announcer at the end of his shift would head home while we were left to pack up the OB Van ready for it to be towed back to the station.
Instead of packing up we would “play radio stations” one panel operator jumping into the announcers chair, the other in the operators booth. Then Andy Williams, Mantovani & Ray Conniff would be cast aside and we would break out our private collections – The Beatles, The Easy Beats, Gene Pitney, Sonny & Cher and The Beach Boys.
This was at the time 3AW and 2GB actually banned The Beatles.
If management only knew – we had the best of 60’s music blaring out over the external speakers of ultra conservative 3AW. We alientated the oldies but all the kids around loved it. We even played requests.