Author Archives: wellmaxx

About wellmaxx

A working lifetime in the media - radio, TV and print wouldn't be complete without adding the internet

You Called Him What?? – Be careful what you name your children

What were they thinking?  Mr and Mrs. Hunt when they named their child  Michael knowing all too well he’d be called Mike.*

Mr and Mrs Orff when the called their son Hans*, and how could the Jarses have named their boy Hugh?

A talented American swimmer had a tough enough start in life with the surname Hyman but her folks had to christen her Misty.  Then there was  jazz musician Dick Hyman but I don’t know if they were connected.Unknown-1

There are names than on their own are one thing but when aligned to a job take on added fascination.

Dr. Finger who headed up the Adelaide  VD clinic.

Patricia Feral an animal rights activist in Stamford, Connecticut.

Kevin Kidney the butcher

Sid Foots the boot maker

Rodney Supple the chiropractor

Dr.Slaughter  GP

Dr. Death GP (not surprisingly he pronounced it Deeth)

Sue Yoo the Lawyer – that would inspire confidence

U.S Treasury spokesman David Dollar

Justin Payne – dentist.  Ouch!!

The head of fisheries in Tasmania at one time was Barry Mundy, not so strange on the scale of things.

There’s no hiding place – even in literature, The British Journal of Urology written by J. W. Splatt and D. Weedon. – that’s hands on experience.

And who knew in the Buck family that they’re young son would grow up to be a Pastor.

Cardinal Sin

If that wasn’t difficult enough, how about Chris Moss who gave up dreams of the priest hood.  Couldn’t handle being Father Chris Moss.

Still on a clerical bent, Jamie Sin rose through the ranks to be the head of the Catholic church in the Philippines, to become Cardinal Sin.

Who could forget U.S. politician Anthony Weiner. If his name wasn’t awkward enough he put it in lights after being caught sexting images of his “weiner” via cell phone.

Still on a political bent let’s not forget those Republicans  in the U.S. trying to delay legislation against global warming named Doolittle and DeLay.

I’m not even going to talk about gynaecologist Richard D. Stiff MD.

And they say “It’s only a name.”

If you can add to this collection all contributions gratefully received.

*Mike Hunt was a wrestling referee in Australia. * Hans Orff was head of the Australian Submarine Corporation.

New Scientist magazine coined the terms “nominative determinism” or “aptonyms” to describe the phenomenon of people whose names reflect their jobs – or rather, who end up working in areas that reflect their names (hence the “determinism”!).


The Not So Golden Daze of Radio – 16 – Rewind

They’re racing………….

I used to break into a cold sweat if I ever received the phone call that the Saturday afternoon announcer was sick and I had to fill in.

Saturdays on radio were chock full of sport and co-ordinating football and racing and whatever else was happening was a nightmare.

There were those like the legendary John Vertiganat 3UZ who made it sound so easy, seamlessly leaving the footy at Glenferrie Oval to crossing just before they jumped at Moonee Valley, then giving the approximate TAB dividends, before linking up with the fourth from Rosehill.

This was all before video monitors so all the information was relayed to you from a producer in the booth through you headphones – split cans as we called them.  You could have the football in one ear and racing in the other and you had to talk while listening to both, and at times a there was a third source.

To think this went on continuously for four or five hours it was mentally and physically taxing.

Thankfully I was rarely called on to host sporting shifts but one I did on a number of occasions was at 7LA Launceston. On those nights we covered two greyhound meetings one from White City in Launceston and the other Glenorchy in Hobart.

As it was a commercial radio station we had to weave ads in between the races.  There was nothing worse than to be 15 seconds into a 30 second commercial only to hear “they’re racing…” very sloppy cutting out of the ad (upsetting the sponsor) and into the race already underway (upsetting the punters). So you had to rely on the caller.

“Hey Ron, How long til they jump can I squeeze a couple of ads in?” Usually they got it right but now and again the dogs would jump early.

But one particular  caller (name withheld) was uncanny, he never missed.  “Hey ####, I’m running way behind can I slip an ad in before crossing to you?”  “No worries mate.” He’d give me the OK even if an event was well passed its scheduled starting time.

One night I said “Look I’m three ads behind can we squeeze them in?” “Not a problem.” I fully expected to have to cut out during the ad break but no, last ad finished. “Now over the White City” and instantly “They’re off.”

This caller was uncanny.

It was only years later that I found out his secret.  Not only was he calling the dogs for us but he was  also the official starter for the Greyhound Club.

The dogs never jumped until he pushed the button.

Barossa Apocalypse – the Golden Days of TV – Rewind

There were many memorable moments working with Guy Blackmore on Eyewitness News.

Not all of them happened in front on the camera which is probably just as well.

Graeme Goodings and Guy Blackmore circa 1986      (I don’t remember being that young) 

As presenters of the top rating TV news service we received invitations and offers everyday open events and make public appearances. Most we turned down due to time constraints or questionable value.

One offer we couldn’t refuse was to take part in the Barossa Vintage Festival in the world acclaimed Barossa Valley north of Adelaide in South Australia.

The Festival is the largest and longest running wine tourism festival in Australia. It showcases the rich diversity of the Barossa region and highlights the many reasons  why it is recognised as one of the finest wine-producing regions in the world.

We were invited to the  Vintage Festival launch  in the mid 80’s and choppered into the Barossa in grand style to an almost royal reception.

A mid morning feast was laid out for those lucky enough to be invited and it was an honour to be amongst some of the great names of winemaking in  Australia.  Peter Lehmann, Wyndham Hill-SmithCyril HenschkeGrant Burge & George Kolarovich to name just a few. All provided some of their wonderful wines which we only too happily consumed.

The mid morning function eased into the early afternoon and the wine and the stories flowed freely but by about 3.00 somebody suggested we should be returning to Adelaide.

Two choppers took off in formation laden down with the spoils of the Barossa heading due South to Adelaide.  Not 10 minutes into the flight my news reading partner  Guy Blackmore came up with the startling revelation.  “We’re going to get back to the channel way too early.“A cardinal sin if there was no reason to be there.

A quick conference call between the choppers and we set in a new course.  It was off to the Southern Vales.  Now this is where my memory drifts off into the mists of time. I thought we choppered in to St. Francis winery at Old Reynella. However, Geoff Blackmore , Guy’s brother, swears it was Clarendon wineryI’ll defer to his greater clarity on the day.

Whatever, someone phoned ahead and by the time the two helicopters touched down the winery had laid out some of their best wines and local produce, cheese, olives, fruit on tables under umbrellas overlooking the  beautiful vineyards.

The hospitality was overwhelming and I have no idea who paid (if anybody).

By about 5 o’clock, even with the anaesthetising effect of quality red, I began to get anxious and reminded Guy we had a bulletin to read.

Minutes later we were in the air with a bottle of port and plate cheese and biscuits to fortify us on the 25 minute flight to SAS 10.

As we made our descent towards the helipad, which was clearly visible from the newsroom, we could see faces pressed up against the windows. They were not only worried about our late arrival  but I think they may have been more than a little concerned about our sobriety.

Never one to miss an opportunity for mischief  Guy  suggested we put on a show for them.  As he stepped from the chopper he raised a full glass of port towards the newsroom, took one step forward and proceeded to fall flat on his face.  I raced to his assistance and when Guy was back on his feet we both took a bow and stumbled into the building arm in arm.

The looks on the newsroom faces were priceless.

With time rapidly approaching six o’clock we went straight to makeup.  I think it was the news director who stuck his head through the door and said.“Are you fellas sure you’re right  to read tonight.” We nodded in unison but said nothing. A slurred reply might not have been good.  When he left  I recall saying  to Guy “This better be good. We are going t have to read the perfect bulletin. If we make so much as a slight stumble, a stutter or stuff up we are dead meat.”

The real threat of instant summary dismissal hanging over our heads, we read the straightest, error free news we had ever read. Not one joke, not one giggle, not one aside.  Although immediately after neither of us had any recollection of anything we had read in the bulletin.

Management were far from happy and let us know, but with our ratings consistently the  highest any news service had ever received they were always going to cut us a bit of slack.

However, we both knew the day the ratings fell our news reading careers would be over.

It would never happen today but long lunches were common place back then.  Ah! the wonderful days of contra.

But that’s a story for another time.

Radio Daze rewind – The Dripps File

The Dripps File

I was doing the 7-10 weeknight shift  on 7LA Launceston, Tasmania.

Well it didn’t really end at 10, I had to then read a ten minute news bulletin. A straight read with no audio grabs or commercial breaks.

The person who took over from me was my mentor, John Dripps who used the 10 o’clock news theme as his cue to finish his last drink at the Metropole Hotel , stock up for the night with half a dozen bottles and stagger around the corner to the studio.

Regular as clockwork his quizzical blurred visage would peer through the studio door window at 5 past 10.

On this fateful night Big John had obviously been quenching a powerful thirst and was to put it delicately, “very pissed.”

He staggered through the door, tripped over the radiator (this was Tasmania and it got very cold) and passed out.

Now here’s my dilemma. Do I keep reading as though nothing had happened, while Big John is slowly being toasted, or do I apologise on air, stop reading and run around and rescue him. Such an on air admission would take a lot of explaining to management and surely would have ended with Mr.Dripps being given the “heave ho.”

I decided to press on, only pausing only long enough between stories to sniff the air to see if he’d caught on fire. I picked up the pace and read the last four minutes of news in 2.30.   Then, after a very brief weather forecast,  I introduced John Dripps and played his theme music.

As it played I raced around the studio console to find Drippsy sleeping peacefully, and warm over the heater, smoke beginning to slowly rise from his clothing. A jug of water served two purposes that night: to wake him from his slumber and douse the budding fire.

To his undying credit and my admiration,  without even asking “what the F was going on'” Big John leapt to his feet, skirted the radiator and console  while brushing  off the burning embers of his wooly jacket and  slid into the chair as his theme music faded. “Thanks Graeme, I’m John Dripps and welcome to the late night show. Let’s soothe away the hours together on 7L “eye.”*

It was a Master Class in the art of “the show must go on.”

P.S. John Dripps is the only news reader I’ve every heard go to sleep half way through a story, snore contentedly for more than a minute, wake up, then continue reading where he left off as if nothing had happened.

I know there can be some dull news days but……..

* John Dripps and 7L “eye”

The Not So Golden Daze Of Radio – Rewind

My first shift on radio came by complete accident.

It was Christmas morning sometime in the last century and the breakfast announcer called in sick. The program manager who had been awoken from his slumber in the early hours rang the relief announcer yo cover the shift but the phone just rang and rang, and finally rang out.( This was before answering machines).

The relief – relief announcer was called, at least he answered the phone, but said he had a bad case of sunstroke after working on the Outside Broadcast the day before and was in no condition to work.

With that the PM rang back the mid dawn announcer and said ‘sorry mate but you’ll have to work through until nine, I can’t get anyone to relieve you.’

Dreading 9 hours straight on air the mid dawn announcer said ‘ I saw that young panel operator Graeme Goodings in the other studio earlier, he’s obviously very keen, to be in here Christmas morning, why not let him do a few hours? ‘

No doubt wanting to get back to sleep the PM relented and said ‘OK put him on. It’s only Christmas morning after all,  hardly anyone will be listening.’

So that’s how I came to do my first shift on 3AW.

Well that’s the sanitised version, but this is what really happened.

3AW was a very social station and we’d all party at the drop of a hat. Often of a Friday night long after management had gone home, announcers, panel operators, techo’s and office staff would gather in the record library and do some serious partying.

The record library was the perfect place, it was spacious, out of the way and of course there was plenty of music on hand. There was one hitch however, with all those valuable records it was locked up like Fort Knox every night.

But where there’s a will there’s a way.

The record library was on the first floor – the studios were on the ground floor. So a dumb waiter was installed to raise and lower the boxes of records between the two levels. Dumb waiters aren’t very big – but big enough to fit a young panel operator who would haul himself up from the ground floor into the record library.

Then it was a simple process to climb out of the dumb waiter and go over and unlock the library door from the inside.

And so the party started – and that’s exactly what happened on this particular Christmas Eve.

The breakfast announcer was there, the relief announcer was there and so was the relief, relief announcer and half the staff of 3AW including yours truly.

We played hard, it was a very late night, I seem to remember being one of the last still there and as I had no way of getting home I went and fell into an alcoholic slumber on the floor in Studio 2.

And that’s where the Mid dawn announcer found me and told me through my beery haze that I was about to make my debut on air.

My recollection of the shift is virtually nil. Suffice it to say I didn’t run an aircheck across it as I don’t think it would have helped my fledgling career in radio, but hell, everybody has to start somewhere.

TV Daze – rewind – The Day I Crashed The Evil Empire

A great mate of mine Gary Campaniello owns Portside Mitsubishi in Adelaide.

He’s one of the most generous people I know and he also happens to have one of the best wine cellars in Adelaide.

Friends like these are to treasure.

A few years ago Gary rings me and says he’s got some tickets to a One Day Cricket International at Adelaide Oval am I interested?  Silly question.

It’s a sponsors’ show so after the cricket we adjourn to Jolley’s Boat House restaurant on the banks of the Torrens, me thinking it’s probably a Mitsubishi function.

The alarm bells should have started ringing when I saw a big Channel Nine banner outside Jolly’s front door, but I just thought, well 9 do the cricket so they’re just supporting the sponsors show.

Gary and I go inside where we’re given name tags ( mine had to be hastily written up).

I see  familiar faces – Rob Kelvin – 9 Newsreader and a couple of other 9 identities.

When 9’s sales manager strides up to me and has a brief chat an uneasy feeling starts in the pit of my stomach.

That feeling quickly departs as fine wine and plates of food are brought to the table.  Radio legend Tony Pilkington is seated with us and the conversation is free and easy, and with Pilko in fine form, very humorous.

He asks me a few loaded questions about how did I enjoy the cricket and how did I come to be here at Jolly’s.

“Compliments of my dear friend Gary from Portside “I replied.

Shortly after Pilko rose to his feet as he was to be the MC for the function.

Then I broke into a cold sweat as Pilko began.  “Good evening everyone and welcome to the Channel Nine program launch for 2008.”

As I started to squirm Pilko singled out different identities for special mention.

I knew my time was coming.

“And I’ve saved the biggest news for last.  As you’ve no doubt seen Channel 7’s Graeme Goodings is with us and I’m pleased to say he’s quitting 7 and joining 9 in the new year.

A collection of gasps and sideways looks from 9 management followed and me looking for the nearest exit to beat a rapid retreat.

My old pal Gary oblivious to it all. He had not seen how politically incorrect it was to have a 7 network’s personality at a Channel 9 program launch revealing the stations lineup for the upcoming year.

Everyone was very good about it but there was a perceptible level of tension in the air.

I thought, well I’m here now better make the best of it and went round to all the 9 execs and sponsors I knew and wished them the compliments of the season and all the best for the upcoming year.

As soon as possible after that I suggested to Gary it might be time to leave.

The embarrassment didn’t quite end there. In the next day’s Confidential section of The Advertiser  there was  a picture of me with the Channel 9 sales manager and the caption ‘7 News Presenter Graeme Goodings seen at the Channel 9 program launch.’

7 management took it in good humour although I don’t know that my explanation sat too well with them.

I stayed at 7 for another  6 years so I guess that says something.

Radio Daze – rewind

You meet a lot of different characters in TV and radio.  Some leave an indelible impression, others not.

Grantley Dee was a radio personality I’ll never forget.  A couple of years older than me he came to prominence as a 16 year old DJ on Melbourne’s 3AK.

For one so young to get a break on cap city radio was  amazing. What made it more remarkable was the fact Grantley was blind.

His commercials had to be typed in braille and he needed  a special clock to tell the time – but other than that – Deedles (as he was affectionately known) was one of the rockiest jocks on the airwaves.

Grantley Dee also had a  burgeoning singing career – his most successful song Let The Little Girl Dance in 1966.

As 3AK started to move in a new direction Grantley was left looking for a job and took a DJ position at 7EX in Launceston, and that is where our paths crossed,

I was a fresh-faced stumbling announcer on rival 7LA,  a middle of the road station.

Although this was regional radio 7EX was a very professional unit and rarely employed novices like myself. They usually went for broadcasters with plenty of experience. (Sam Anglesey went to 7EX after a very successful career with 3UZ)

One day when looking through the local “Examiner” newspaper I saw an ad “Wanted old 45’s in mint condition.  Will pay good money.”

As I had a pretty fair collection of singles (mostly “acquired” in my time at 3AW) I thought here’s an opportunity to make some beer money.

Little did I know that the person who’d place the ad was Grantley Dee.

I rang him and we arranged for me to go around to his place after he came off  air a 6pm.

I must admit I was a little in awe of the meeting Grantley but he made me feel welcome as he met me at the front door with my box of 45’s. A common interest in pop music gave us plenty to talk about.

Grantley systematically went through my records putting them on his turntable and having a listen.  Those he wanted he placed on one pile those he didn’t he put on another.

The process took some time and the early evening twilight  rapidly ran out.

Before long we were sitting in total darkness .It  didn’t bother Grantley of course and I was too embarrassed to say anything.

After about an hour the front door opened and it was Grantley’s wife who turned on the light and was quite amused that we’d been sitting  in the dark.

I mumbled something about not noticing how dark it was, collected my money and records Grantley didn’t want and still red-faced, bid my goodbye.

I never saw Grantley after that and have never told the story until this very day.