Tag 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.

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5AA – Where News Makes Conversation

I have just completed another stint on morning radio at 5AA. It truly is the best way to feel the heartbeat of the city.

Key points I noted:

  • Politicians can’t get away with what they once did.
  • Spin is dead. The pollies might still try it on but the masses are awake to it.Unknown-2
  • Families Minister Jennifer Macklin’s insensitive comment that she could live on the dole set in stone the politicians’ golden rule.  Never give a definitive Yes or No answer.
  • Even in tough economic times people have an underlying confidence in Australia to come through any crisis.
  • The “she’ll be right” Aussie mentality lives on, and that’s a good thing, but people at large know we have to be ever-vigilant to keep our leaders focused on running the country.
  • Politicians of all persuasions still seem more intent on scoring off their opponents than scoring for the good of the country.
  • Our leaders underestimate the electorate at their peril.
  • Australians can be very generous, particularly in time of adversity, bushfires, floods and other natural disasters.
  • The U.S. influence on our country maybe widespread but Aussies retain wit, charm and cheek that sets us apart from any other race on Earth. Long may it be so.
  • Social media might be the communication system of the “Now” generation but much of that communication is misinterpreted.
  • No matter how much you know on any given subject, someone listening will know more than you do.
  • Radio remains the best source of public interaction.

My conclusion after two weeks on air – Adelaide’s heart is beating the pulse is very strong.

Radio Daze 22 – The Not So “Golden Days of Radio”

A little knowledge can be dangerous

In my days at 7LA Launceston I started a show called 7LA At Your Service.

We had experts in the studio in all sorts of  fields, a vet, a home handyman, an antique experts, a gardener, etc (let it be know that our gardener went by the name of Peter Cundall .*

Gardening Guru Peter Cundall

This was the late 60’s and Peter’s first taste of working in the media).

Over time I picked up all sorts of advice that I filed away for future reference.

Years later I would surprise and startle by bursting forth with “If you have chewing gum stuck to carpet freeze it with ice cubes and when it becomes hardened it will break off in little pieces.”or “To prevent tears put onions in the freezer before chopping them” .”Then to remove the strong odor of onions from your hands,rub them with a stainless steel spoon under running water.” (weird but true).

I became the life of the party.

Years later a tip came to me when I was confronted with  stain on my favourite pair of black shorts.

I needn’t have worried, I left a ballpoint pen in a pocket and it leaked leaving a stain the size of a 50 cent piece. It wasn’t visible from the outside but it annoyed the hell out of me so I was determined to remove it.

I opened a bottle of bleach and poured some into a bowl, then I turned the shorts inside out and dipped the stained pocket into the liquid.

I thought I’d leave it over night to make sure all signs of the stain were removed.

To my horror next morning my black shorts were no longer black.  Then I remembered how osmosis worked. The bleach soaked liquid has worked its way up the pocket and all over my shorts.

It was a perfect bleach job. No trace of black remained.They were now closer to the colour of a natural jute bag.  All except the stitching which, for what ever reason held its black colour.

I continued to wear the shorts out of defiance,  knowing no-one else on the planet would have a pair quite the same.

* U.K. born Peter Cundall is a legendary gardening media personality on both TV and radio with a broadcast career spanning more than 40 years.

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 8. – the not so “Golden Days of Radio “

You can always tell a radio technician, but you can’t tell him much

Radio technicians are are breed apart….understood only by each other and a damn frustration to the rest of us in the industry.

A laugh at their expense is always worthwhile. Once upon a time at 5DN Adelaide the boffins were inspecting a new graphic equaliser aimed at improving the often dreadful quality of country race broadcast lines.vintage graphic equaliser

I happened to be standing nearby as first one techo then another jiggled with the frequencies. A little bit more mid range, pull down the highs, etc, etc. After much adjusting and re-adjusting all the techo’s reached agreement – the new piece of gear was well worth the investment and certainly enhanced the quality of the incoming race broadcast.

Listening in I felt a touch embarrassed, to my untrained ear it didn’t sound any different.

A fact born out when I went behind the racks holding the equipment only to find the new “you beaut” equaliser hadn’t even been plugged in!

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 4. – the not so “Golden days of Radio”

Right time wrong studio

Five hour solo radio shifts were a killer – If nature called all you had was the duration of a record to go to the toilet and do your business. Hey Jude was a great song…if not for its musical qualities then certainly for its length. That meant major business could be undertaken with minimum panic.

MacArthur Park was another beauty all seven minutes plus of it, and it was Richard Harris’ classic I pressed into service during a long night shift on 7LA Launceston. The song underway and the next track cued up  I was off down the corridor to the toilet with a copy of The Examiner under my arm.

A monitor in the toilet reassured me all was well

“Someone left the cake out in the rain and I don’t think that I can take it
’cause it took so long to bake it
and I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!

The lyrics might rate as some of the worst of all time but it was solid gold to me. Five and a half minutes later, job completed I headed back to the studio. Up the stairs, along the corridor and back into studio B. I sat down, turned up the monitor and casually checked the clock. Ah no worries another 45 seconds before the song was over.

I glanced down to my left expecting to see MacArthur Park twirling around towards its logical conclusion, when all I saw on the turntable was the makers name. I furtively looked across to the right hand turntable  – it had to be there, but no it too was empty.

and I don’t think that I can take it
’cause it took so long to bake it
and I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no,oh no, oh no, oh no!

As the final strain filtered through, the penny dropped – I’d come into the wrong studio….MacArthur Park was revolving on a turntable in the studio the floor below me.  Aw shit! Mad panic and  50 metre dash in Usain Bolt like time…but there was still several seconds of “dead air” and of course the boss heard it and silence in radio was anything but golden. It took a lot of explaining to keep my job.

But it only goes to show, no matter how long they make the songs some dumb “jock” will still get caught short.