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.