Tag Archives: Melbourne

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.


Welcome to television – Uncle Norman’s big entrance

Uncle Norman (Norman Swain) was a legendary Melbourne radio figure in the 50’s, particularly with the kids.

His move into television to host The Tarax Show came with much fanfare and expectation. We all tuned in with great excitement as the opening credits rolled.

And what an entrance, a big drum roll , cymbals clashed, wild applause, then down a giant slide came Uncle Norman – the kids went crazy.

Uncle Norman hit the ground, clutched his knee and yelled,” I’ve broken my leg.”

Uncle Norman & Joffa Boy

Well we all laughed til our sides hurt.  “How funny is Uncle Norman always with the gags.” Joffa Boy (comedian Joff Ellen)even improvised a clever ditty about “Uncle Norman’ s broken leg.”

After a full minute writhing around on the studio floor it became obvious, this was no joke – Uncle Norman had, in fact, broken his leg.

He was rushed off to hospital and we didn’t see him again for ages.

Needless to say his return to The Tarax Show,  minus the slide, was far lower key.

Radio Daze 3. – the not so “Golden Days of Radio”

While Melbourne Sleeps

One of the ghoulish delights on radio in the sixties was waking up on a Sunday morning and listening to the murder and mayhem of the night before on programs like 3UZ’s Newsbeat and 3AW’s While Melbourne Sleeps.

The focus of the shows was to chase fire engines, and ambulances all over town and describe in graphic detail the gory happenings.

Des Telfer was AW’s man “while Melbourne slept”…but one Saturday night Des was sleeping too. When I arrived for work early on Sunday morning Des was in the courtyard “reconstructing” the events he’d slept through.

A phone call to the police provided him in with the facts, and Des was off with his tape recorder and sound effects “recreating.”

While he spoke in whispered tones of a horrifying accident you could hear the tow truck drivers sweeping up the broken glass.  Actually half a dozen empties from the back of Des’s car came in doubly handy.

Then the scrunching up of paper near  the microphone sounded just like the fire in the old folks home.  The blaze described in graphic detail by an “eyewitness” – one of the  3AW cleaning staff happy to play along for a “fiver.”

While Melbourne Sleeps didn’t stay on air for much longer. Newsbeat continued for a few more years – maybe their “recreations” were better than ours.