Time for a serious Disc-ussion
Remember the old expression that children should be seen and not heard?
1980s radio in Australia was the reverse: It was heard and not seen.
With no mobile phones and no social media, radio wasn’t about the visuals – it was purely about what came out of the speakers.
So, apart from the odd in-store appearance or OB, the listener rarely saw the face behind the mic. But a Saturday morning TV segment would change all that.
‘Discussion’ (said with the emphasis on ‘disc’) was part of the organised chaos that was Hey Hey it’s Saturday.
Cap city radio hosts from around the country – sometimes looking a little dishevelled from the previous night’s activities – would rock up to review the latest music releases, whether in-studio or via video link.
Decked out in their 3XY leather jackets and 2SM t-shirts, they combined their music statements with some often questionable fashion statements.
For the radio stations they represented, it was a publicist’s dream.
Announcers joined celebrities on the panel, bantering with host Daryl Somers and bracing for the quick wit of John Blackman as they chewed over whether the latest song had radio appeal, using a pile of scorecards in front of them to declare it a hit or a miss.
Gavin Wood was among the DJs to appear on Discussion.
He tells Radio Today “Discussion was unique. DJs and celebrities talking about new record releases. I thought it was a terrific segment. Anything to give exposure to new acts has got to be a good thing.”
Wood says the Saturday morning timeslot provided a little more flexibility.
“The shows were more free-flowing and you could get away with some funny stuff. When you look at all the different segments Daryl did like What Cheeses Me Off and The Great Australian Joke with Maurie Fields and Shane Bourne, they were so much fun and really ahead of their time.”
Kevin Hillier recalls feeling ever so slightly seedy on his Saturday morning visits to the Melbourne studios of GTV 9 in Bendigo Street, Richmond.
He tells Radio Today “I remember sitting in Marg Annesley’s make up chair, usually hung over from the disco I did Friday nights and hoping she could perform a miracle.”
“She went close. I looked human.”
Though never a fan of appearing on-camera, Hillier enjoyed the Discussion experience.
“It was always fun, unpredictable and rarely about the actual songs. Daryl was always good to me and I loved Ernie Carroll. It always freaked me out, him talking and moving Ossie’s head.”
“John Blackman was just brilliant, hijacking most of the discussion and taking it off somewhere for laughs”
More of a night owl himself, EON’s Karl Van Est also remembers baulking at the early Saturday morning starts at GTV and the EON publicist INSISTING he get in there, as it was great free publicity for the station.
Pete Rudder appeared twice on Discussion:
“The first time was a bit daunting, where I was totally overshadowed by all these guys,” Rudder tells Radio Today.
“And the second one – you wouldn’t believe it – Jonathon Coleman was sitting next to me, and he just absolutely stole the show.”
“So it wasn’t a really great experience being on Hey Hey, to be quite honest with you. But I did make it. I was on there. We took it for what it was … it was a great experience in the rich tapestry of our careers.”
The segment briefly moved with the show to the night time format, but did not continue in the 6.30pm to 8.30pm timeslot, which necessitated a faster and somewhat slicker program.
Hillier agrees Discussion had a unique quality and appeal.
“The whole thing was just another vehicle for entertainment, and it certainly was that for those involved and those who watched.”
“I loved doing it the 3 or 4 times I did.”
Photo credits: Hey Hey TV and Facebook.