Tag Archives: Launceston

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.

Frogs invade TV station

In regional TV and radio you get to do lots of different things. At TNT 9 Launceston as well as being an on the road reporter I also read the news at night.

But it didn’t end there – the channel decided to broadcast the trots on Saturday nights but what sort of program could you put around a race every 25 minutes or so.

Live variety was the answer and fellow presenter Jim Cox (later to enter politics and become Police Minister) and I were enlisted to co-produce and co host this two hours of “fun filled” entertainment.

I think the weekly budget for the show was $300, so sets were far from lavish and guests were expected to perform for cab fare.

It meant we had to be very innovative – I wrote and performed comedy sketches – and local “talent” got to display their distinct lack of it.

All performed in front of a live audience

Every week we tried to come up with something that would involve the audience at home. Sometimes it worked and it was very entertaining, other times it was quite cringe worthy.

However, the most unforgettable stunt upset the viewers and outraged the RSPCA.

Not all frogs rode motor bikes

Running low on ideas someone suggested a frog race in the studio.  At the start of the show we called on people at home to bring in a pet frog (if they had one) and we’d have a race in the studio.

We expected maybe 5 or 6, ten at most.  When more than 200 people turned up with frogs, toads, newts the alarms bells went off.

There we were trying to organise the race on live television.  The studio floor covered with a writhing amphibian mass.  There was  a winner, but that meant there were many, many, many, losers and most of the owners seemed less than keen to take them home.

Some took delight throwing their frogs against the studio wall, others did worse.

The more humane just walked off and left the station crawling with frogs of all shapes and sizes.

For weeks after frogs kept turning up in all sorts of strange places, not surprisingly the toilets were popular.

After the RSPCA inquiry into claims of animal cruelty we agreed never to involve animals in our broadcasts again of course other than the trotters.

In spite of that less than glorious performance The Saturday Night Show went on to win a TV Logie Award for the best live variety show in Tasmania

If there’s a shortage of frogs in Tasmania to this day now you know why.

Radio daze 10. – the not so “Golden Days of Radio “

Country Radio…..How Good?

My first Sunday on 7LA in Launceston involved turning on the transmitter and broadcasting from the early hours until midday.

It also followed my first Saturday night in Launceston and my first hangover courtesy of Boags beer.

Senior announcer John Dripps (his real name) had the unenviable task of showing me the ropes, but I’m sure the station managements idea of breaking the new lad in wasn’t getting him hopelessly pissed and turning up for the shift after only two hours sleep.

Head pounding,  I was never going to forgive Drippsy for his “Tassy welcome.” As he supervised my stumbling intros and outros I mentioned what a powerful hunger I’d worked up.

Big John was instantly on his feet and out the studio door. A call of nature I thought or maybe he was off to catch the early opener (did I mention he liked a drink?)

But I had judged him harshly, 45 minutes later he appeared at the studio door beckoning me to open it.

In he waltzed with a huge tray laden down with silver jugs of milk and juice, a teapot, breakfast cereal, bacon and eggs, toast and condiments of every variety.

Drippsy had gone next door to The Launceston Hotel ( a very upmarket pub) and coerced them into providing brekky for a casual mention on air.

It was one of the great breakfasts of all time and I thought “How good’s this wireless business.”

Radio Daze 2.- the not so “Golden Days of Radio”

Art & Abart

A lovely English lady called Jane worked at 7LA in Launceston…she did some sales work and hosted her own program called Art & Abart.

No matter how closely I listened I couldn’t work out what the title of her show meant.  Art…well, the show had nothing artistic about it…and Abart…it wasn’t her surname or sponsors name.  So what the hell did it mean?

Being a callow 17 year old I was too shy to ask, not wanting to display my ignorance.

It was much later I finally got it…it was her accent..the show was actually Out and About.