I'd lie in the dark and let the worlds come to life through sound. It was great escape. The imagination would augment the audio and build complex worlds.
I would also listen to the famous Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem's Top 100 shows. This was in the days when even Walkman's were yet to be invented. Seems ancient now.
Anyway, I grew to love the medium of radio and in the back of my mind always wanted, one day, to maybe be a disc jockey.
When I was living in Byron, I spotted an ad in the Echo for radio presenter training night classes. I signed up. It went for 8 weeks, I think, a few times a week. I learnt the basics. It was a little non-creative and dry and also, due to one particularly grating fellow participant, I nearly quit before the end.
The instructor said, "We are going to pair up and do interviews together now. Choose someone and..." I was sitting next to the woman I found it hard to bear and thought to myself - if I get stuck with her I am walking out. It looked like it was going to happen when...
An angel from across the room, shouted 'I want him!' I looked up and she was pointing directly at me. I didn't know her but her name was Claire. She thought I was funny, she later explained. And some of the others were annoying her. We had a lot of fun with the mock interviews and they were the hit of the class. (Claire and I became great friends and still are.)
Bay FM, 99.9, Byron Bay's local radio station held auditions each year for new presenters. Something like 40 applicants for 3 spots. As the final part of the course, we each got to do a half hour, live to air show, after midnight. I worked hard at writing and preparing mine and used it in my application.
To cut a long story short, two spots got filled and the third was a head to head between me and another hopeful. They re-interviewed us both. I nudged in. Victory! I was euphoric.
My slot was late Sunday nights 10pm to midnight. The show was called 'The Wonderful Thing.' It was a live sketch comedy show with laid back music interludes. Each week I would write an hour of new material, rehearse with one or two local actors (Claire also joined us many times) and then do the show. It turned out to be a very popular show with some avid followers. The thing I loved most was when people told me that they tuned in while driving and had to pull over they were so riveted.
I started out in 'The Shack' a funky old caravan but later the stationed moved to all new premises in the Byron Bay Community Centre. It was luxury. The studio was state-of-the-art, cosy and audiolicious. I loved going in there each week and making stuff happen over the air waves. Lots of laughs and great tunes.
The station had an extensive CD library and each Friday I would go in and spend hours choosing that week's playlist. Obviously, it took a few weeks to really settle in - technically, one has to be quite aware and adept to handle all the switching, levels, etc - but after some hilarious blunders - it was smooth sailing. Truly a world unto itself. The kid inside me was smiling everytime I sat in the chair, put on the cans and whispered my intro speech... We have lift off...!
By the time I left to head over to the US, I had released three compilation comedy sketch CDs which are still being played occasionally by the new crop of presenters now.
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