Category Archives: Radio

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.

Radio daze 17. – the not so “Golden Days of Radio”

My first experience living away from home was getting a job at 7LA Launceston.

The station put me up in a boarding house run by  a Mrs.Phelps who lived in a big old two storey weatherboard house. She had a husband who I rarely saw, he left for work early and always seemed to come home late, and a daughter who was away at University in Hobart.

Mrs. Phelps was an eccentric old soul (see earlier post) who kept her life to herself unless she’d been imbibing in the cooking sherry, which she did from time to time.  I’ll never forget the séance at the kitchen table, but that’s a story for another time.

My first morning in the boarding house was quite daunting , As  I entered the dining room there were five people seated around the breakfast table, all of them old enough to be my parents.

I sat down at the one remaining seat and cast my eye over the table which held typical breakfast fare,  juice, cereal, toast, jam, honey, sugar etc.

Immediately in front of me was a recycled Vegemite jar ¾ filled with milk. I looked around at the other settings and noticed no one else had a glass in front of them. My mind raced, why me? Then it became apparent, well of course, these are all older people, I’m a young, growing teenager who needs his milk.  Although by 19 beer had become more of a staple than the dairy alternative.

So, back to the table, now I can’t offend Mrs.Phelps, after all she was going to be looking after my welfare.

So I picked up the glass and started drinking, to my amazement the milk had a consistency more like cream.  Then the penny dropped. It was bloody cream, and the cream wasn’t just for me, it was to be  shared by all  the other boarders.  But here I am with a mouthful. What do it do?

Keep on drinking of course, and I consumed the entire congealed mass. Put the glass back down on the table, smacked my lips and reached for a piece of toast.

Well, the looks on the faces of  everyone else was priceless.  Forget good old Tasmanian hospitality these folks were ready to kill. I grabbed my toast making a lame excuse about being late for work and made a hasty exit.

Curiously, after that I ate my breakfasts alone at the table in the kitchen.  Mrs.Phelps felt I might be more comfortable there.

So she was looking out for my welfare after all.

Tony Charlton – Master Sports Broadcaster

The death of Television sporting icon Tony Charlton from bowel cancer closes a chapter of the early days of sports TV coverage in Australia.

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Tony Charlton inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame

As a boy growing up in sports-mad Melbourne the viewing highlights of my week were the Sunday Sports shows. World of Sport with Ron Casey on 7 and Tony Charlton’s Football Show on 9. Both had great appeal, for very different reasons.

World of Sport was a blokey show with  knockabout  crew and “okker” sporting guests which seemed to lurch from one segment to the next, basically free-fall entertainment. It had “pass me another beer” charm.

Meanwhile, over at 9 Charlton’s Show was far more formal. Charlton’s beautiful voice and masterful command of the language  gave his show a touch of class.  A diamond among the rough and tumble of footballers who, in those days, had few media skills and many had little education. Charlton’s journalistic skills got the best out of every situation.

It was blue singlet versus bow tie television every Sunday.

I leant towards Casey’s World of Sport with it’s woochopping, bike races on rollers and the mandatory handball competition,but  if there was a big news-sports story we’d turn over to Tony Charlton’s Show.

One case in point was the shock sacking of Melbourne coach Norm Smith who after winning six premierships in ten years was dumped after  round 13 in 1965.

Even as teenager I couldn’t help thinking what powerful television it was as Charlton asked all the tough questions.

Charlton had a wonderful career – after starting in radio and advertising he went to Channel 9 to work on the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

When Channel 7 broadcast the football Charlton became their first commentator.

Channel 9 saw his worth and lured him to Bendigo Street where he spend more than a decade presenting as well as producing football shows and other general programs.

He could turn his hand to any sport be it tennis, golf, motor racing, athletics.  He was the true all rounder who brought his commanding sporting knowledge  to any event he covered and delivered with an old world charm.

Tony Charlton fell to bowel cancer  aged 83, but even to the end he was doing volunteer work for the Prince Alfred Hospital. He was that kind of bloke.

I never met Tony Charlton, my only contact with him was via the small screen, but he made a huge and life-long impression on me.

On hearing news of his death Mebourne broadcaster 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, a friend of Charlton’s, said Australia had lost a great man, a great Australian and a gentleman of the media.

The end of an era.

Nostalgia – What Is It Good For?

Nostalgia is the good feeling you get when you remember things from your past.

We all love a good dose of nostalgia. In fact it can be quite intoxicating, to the point you can almost OD on it.

“There are no days more full than those we go back to.” Colum McCann, Zoli

A meeting with old friends, a visit to your hometown, a fleeting scent,an old song, can all propel you back to a time when we didn’t have a care in the world and all was good.

In reality time erases the bad experiences and highlights the good times.

To be lost in a flood of nostalgia is to give your self to another time and another place. Each memory unearths other rich veins of nostalgia.

I know,  my teens and early twenties were not the best time of my life, but when nostalgia kicks in I see only the Everests and never the dark canyons.

Is it good to wallow in nostalgia?  I love to take those ventures into history, but at times it can be quite taxing.  A night of nostalgia leaving me with a non-alcoholic hangover.  Drained, listless but at least no headache.

The word nostalgia is derived from two Greek words: nostos, meaning ‘homecoming’, and algos, meaning ‘pain.’  In the late 18 century nostalgia was considered a serious condition that rendered sufferers incapacitated by homesickness and despair.

At some stage the word nostalgia slipped out of the medical compendium, was taken hostage  by the reminiscing set, and there it remains.

“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, and the past perfect!”            Owens Lee Pomeroy

Old photos, television, movies, music, thrive on nostalgia. Superman, Batman,  Spiderman the 40’s and 50’s comics coming to life on the big screen and Wonderwoman on TV. We can all write out own lists.

The TV series Mad Men is set in the sixties capturing the fashion and social mores of the period.  It’s been very successful but the interesting thing is it’s not only those who lived through the period who enjoy it.  My 21 year old daughter is a devotee of the show and there’s no nostalgia in it for her.

Every generation will have it’s favourite nostalgic period but is it a good thing?

Research by University of Southampton, found that remembering past times improves mood, increases self-esteem, strengthens social bonds and imbues life with meaning.

 “Nostalgia is a way for us to tap into the past experiences that we have that are quite meaningful – to remind us that our lives are worthwhile, that we are people of value, that we have good relationships, that we are happy and that life has some sense of purpose or meaning.”Image

I recently posted a photo  on Facebook of a Channel 10 Adelaide Christmas Appeal in the 80’s with dozens of TV personalities of the time. It provoked an amazing response as people recalled not only the faces but memories of a time gone by.

“how sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet” Robert Browning

Walking Through A Living Graveyard

Ever been to a work or school reunion?  It can prove to be a daunting experience.

I’ve been to three, all work related at 5DN, 3AW and TNT 9 Launceston.

  Walking into a room filled with people you haven’t seen for up to 30 years brings the    memories flooding back, good and bad in almost equal measure.

Someone once said.  “It’s like walking through a living graveyard.”

The first thing, “thank God for name tags.” The second thing you notice is how the years have treated people unequally.  Some have aged well, others are showing the ravages of time.

The most recent reunion was for the 50th year of TNT 9 Launceston. It’s where I met my wife- to- be Eve.

A visit to the channel studios the night after reunion revealed while so much had changed physically, the place felt much the same. Paint and furniture couldn’t hide the memories.

After 30 years those who had been close friends resumed the relationship as if the time in between didn’t exist.  Uneasy work acquaintance remained just that.

The older former employees spoke glowingly of the “good old days” while the younger current employees appeared to be thinking “silly old farts.”

If you’ve never done a reunion but get the chance make the effort.

The memories that such occasions provoke are priceless and if they aren’t the reunion will remind you why you left in the first place.

Radio Daze 24 – The Not So “Golden Days of Radio”

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.

Radio Daze 23 – The Not So “Golden Days of Radio”

My first shift on radio came by complete accident.

It was Christmas morning 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 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 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 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.

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 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 beer 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.