The life of a ‘Rock Jock’ – the crack-ups
Daisy has given Radio Today exclusive rights to publish excerpts from ‘Rock Jock’. Read part 1 and Greg Smith's chat with him here, read part 2 about the unique way Friday drinks happened in the 80s here, part 3 about his big break is here.
Below, in part 4, find out how the announcers at 3NE used to try and make each other crack-up while on-air and what happened during one particular funeral announcement that was 'regrettable'…..
Meanwhile, Phil (Brice) had rung to say that a job at 3NE Wangaratta had come up and I should apply for it. I’d also been offered a job at 2DU Dubbo in Central New South Wales.
It’s kinda creepy, but if I’d taken the 2DU job, my whole life would have been different: different friends, different wives, different children, different grandchildren. I’m so pleased I took the left turn in my river of life instead of the right. Since that time, I’ve just gone with the flow.
I decided Wangaratta was the go, especially so I could renew my friendship with Phil and have someone at the station who could sort of look after me. Basically, I was still just a kid.
Besides making great radio, most announcers at the time had another mission: the crack-up. The crack-ups were various ways of making the announcer lose the plot and crack up laughing on the air. The young boys at 3NE Wangaratta, where I spent some time early in my career, were very, very good at it.
The set-up of a radio station normally has all the studios in a row, with big glass windows that gave you a view into each one, wherever you were broadcasting from. Hence, the framework for many a crack-up. Whatever the occasion, at some time you had to look up from the broadcast panel. And that’s when the mayhem may happen.
Friday mornings at 3NE, the local parish priest would come in for an interview about monthly musings. Of course, you would have to look up at him for the interview, and he was always opposite you with the entire big glass window behind him. Try concentrating on Brother Bob’s upcoming BBQ bash while jocks behind him were parading around with LP covers on their heads (replicating the hats bishops wore) and holding brooms for crosses. You hoped to Christ he didn’t turn around and catch the mimicked mass going on behind him.
Funeral announcements—yes, there was money to be made even out of death—were made at 8.59 each morning just before the news. There was a metal xylophone on the desk, with a wooden ball on the end of a stick to dong it with to make the sound of a mournful church bell. This was followed by the solemn words, ‘It is with deep regret we announce the passing of such and such …’ A glaring dare for a crack-up if ever there was one, and the boys got me a beauty one day.
As I paused to bong the gong with the wooden ball on a stick, the ball came off and clanged along the xylophone, creating an unholy hymn. The ball continued to bounce noisily along the radio desk as though it were striking a cannibal’s wooden drum, calling the tribe to a boiling pot of human soup, and then the ball continued onto the floor. Someone had come in prior to nine and loosened the ball so that it would come off when first struck. Try reading, ‘It is with deep regret …’ after that!
Daisy’s book is available from www.youviewaustralia.com.au for $25.00 plus postage and handling. It’s a must read.
We'll have more excerpts soon on Radio Today.