Mike Hammond: The day I accidentally shut down an entire town
Great radio memories. Mike Hammond’s got a few.
At 20 years of age, while at 2SM, Mike became the youngest ever drive-time announcer in the history of Sydney radio. He topped the ratings during his time at 2Day FM. He’s won a swag of radio awards.
But a standout memory – for all the wrong reasons – was the day he accidentally shut down an entire town.
Mike shared this doozy with me when I caught up with him on the Food Bytes podcast this week:
“It was my first ever radio job, and we’d won the America’s Cup. It was 1983, and I was working at this little country station – 2LF in Young, New South Wales.”
“I was on-air doing the breakfast shift when I remember getting a phone call from this lady – a staff member who liked to get into the sherry a little bit – who says ‘The Prime Minister’s just declared today a public holiday. Tell everybody!’”
“So I got on air and said ‘It’s a public holiday!’ And with that, school buses stopped. They started doing three point turns on country roads and took all the kids home. The next shift at the local abbatoir and the white goods factory didn’t turn up.”
“I shut the whole place down. That’s when I realised, in my very first radio job, the importance of checking – and double checking – facts.”
Mike also reflected on how age catches up with us all, particularly when you work in radio.
“I was always the young guy when I was working in radio. I was always the new guy. But now I’m the old guy. The old fart!”
“Nobody really wants that little bit of advice that I’m just going to dust off and try to regurgitate. They just go ‘Ah, no thanks, grandpa. Things are done differently these days. We’ve got socials.’”
“I just say ‘Oh. OK. No worries. But don’t you love these podcasts? Everyone goes ‘Oh, podcasting. It’s the new big thing!’ Nooooo. We were doing radio serials, thirty minute long form programs all through the twenties and thirties and forties and fifties. The Castlereagh Line, Dad and Dave, all those great radio plays.”
“Everything that’s old is new again.”
Now back home in Sydney after a six month adventure living in the Brazilian seaside city of Rio de Janeiro, Mike says the pandemic has highlighted what’s important, and he’s determined to get back to the business of living.
“After two years of Covid, I’ve decided there’s a bit of life that needs to be lived.”
“We can all fall victim to just treading water and just going through the motions.”
“It’s a big world out there. And it’s a short life.”