Tag Archives: 3AW

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.

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.

Derryn Hinch – The Human Headline Tackles Cancer

Little good comes from a cancer diagnosis – your life change forever.  The best case scenario is you’ll make a complete recovery.

The worst case, the premature end to your life.

Most cases fall somewhere between – recovery, but life is never quite the same.  That’s when being grateful for just surviving plays a big part.

If you keep asking “why me?” and saying “my life is ruined” it most surely will be. But if you look on victory over cancer as a new beginning, life can be just as good, if not better than before – with some modifications.

The news over the past year that radio talkback host Derryn Hinch had liver cancer probably didn’t surprise a lot of people.  Derryn has had running health issues for a number of years most recently cirrhosis of the liver and almost dying from septicaemia four years ago.

The less charitable might suggest The Human Headline was up to his old tricks, keeping his name on everyone’s lips. Just some sort of publicity stunt to boost his ratings.

However, as time would reveal this was no stunt. Derryn did have cancer  and even if the bouts of chemotherapy do there stuff he will still need a liver transplant if he’s to survive.

In typical Hinch style all this has been carried out in full public gaze on his radio program on 3AW in Melbourne and his blog My Liver, My Life.

Now where is the good you mentioned earlier? I can hear you ask.

Well it’s in the fact that Hinch has been so public about it. The benefit to the tens of thousands of people going through cancer treatment is immense.

In my many talks to cancer support groups relating my cancer journey the feedback is constant “thanks for sharing your story,” or “you’ve given me renewed hope” or “now my husband might have a better attitude to his treatment.“I never thought to ask my doctor those questions.” etc

Knowledge is power and the more cancer survivors can network and share experiences the better off we’ll all be.

Many fighting cancer withdraw to fight a very personal battle privately, and it is their right.  But for those who look beyond their immediate circle can gain valuable support, knowledge and companionship. As psychologist Doctor Darryl Cross said on the DVD Cancer – What Now? “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

I wish Derryn well on his quest for a new liver. Certainly if a positive attitude counts for anything he’ll be still making headlines for years to come.

Radio daze 20 – The not so “Golden Days of Radio”

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.

Just for the boffins, we always made sure to disconnect the landline back to the station so the techos weren’t on to us.

Radio daze 15. – the not so “Golden Days of Radio”

I Hate Middle of the Road Music

There, I’ve said it, but it’s taken 30 years.

One of the great mysteries to me working in radio in the sixties was how MOR (Middle of the Road) radio stations ever survived.

Rock and roll stations had all the life and vibrancy  of the pulsating music culture of the time MOR seemed to be a tepid rehash of the best of pop music.

There was always a place for easy listening stations (as they were later to be called) but the choice of music at some was inexplicable.

For me, MOR was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Shirley Bassey, Barbara Streisand etc.  Not The Ray Conniff Singers, Johnny Mann Singers, Manuel and his music of the Mountains* or Living Marimbas. And have I mentioned the 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett?

How did Jimi Hendrix get away with just one?

Sinatra, Streisand and co. marched to their own beat not swayed by contemporary music (although they were know to dabble occasionally i.e. Sinatra having a shot at Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.

The Conniff, Mann, ensembles would gives us wall to wall bland.  Now if that does it for you fair enough but it would have to be the least adventurous musical outpouring  since the metronome.

But what used to get me angry while working at 3AW was playing MOR artists covering the hits of the day – Ray Conniff does the Bee Gees and other great hitsSpare me!!

Poor old Ray just didn’t get it ,and when his Singers  recorded Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again, Naturally, I almost puked.

25 five singers (count ‘em) lamenting  loneliness, in chorus.

And there were others  – All Alone Am I (except for 24 other breathless singers)  You’ll never Walk Alone ( not with 25 tune twisters around)  Oh Lonesome Me, and I could go on.

Ray Conniff - Alone Again, Naturally

At least when they covered The Captain and Tennille’s Love Will Keep Us Together I could wear that. Although I think it was Ray’s big fat pay cheques rather than love, keeping them together.

Mind you between 1957 and 1968, Ray Conniff had 28 albums in the American Top 40. Johnny Mann Singers covered The 5th Dimensions Up Up and Away which actually was  a bigger hit in the UK than the original.

So what do I know.

*Manuel was in reality West Yorkshireman Geoff Love but that didn’t have quite the same ring as Manuel.