How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 56.


When someone leaves an on-air radio job, I’ve never understood why they’re not taken off the air straight away.

In 1995, I was the Breakfast Show host at 5SE in South Australia. The new Program Director hated everything I did and was making life really difficult for me. I’d been really miserable there for a while but since I’d accepted a new job at 3GG in Victoria, I was having a ball, working my one month notice period.

It all coincided with the local TV station’s annual ratings sweeps. For two weeks every year, they were surveyed and the results were used to sell advertising for the next twelve months. Their best programming was reserved for these two weeks and they had an on-air contest with a first prize of an all-expenses-paid return trip to Paris.

The contest mechanic went like this; each night a big movie was shown and at some point during the film, fourteen boxes would pop up at the bottom of the screen. There was a letter of the alphabet in one of the boxes, a different letter in a different box each night. You wrote down the letters in their corresponding boxes on an entry form you clipped from the local newspaper (which also happened to be owned by the owner of the TV station). When you had all of the letters in the right order, it spelled out a three word phrase that could, “…take you to Paris!”. It was like a long form version of Wheel of Fortune.

On the third day of the promotion, I took a call on the Breakfast Show from a listener who had missed the night before’s letter. Another listener called in and gave it to us. Listeners then attempted to solved the puzzle. By 9am, we’d cracked it. There was now no need for anyone to watch the TV to enter the contest, all they had to do was fill in the entry form, “BOEING JUMBO JET” and send it in.

The owner of the TV station went ballistic! He called my General Manager and chewed him out. I was suspended with immediate effect and for the remaining weeks of my employment at 5SE I was given off-air work only.

Just for fun I made sure some of my “off-air” work would end up on the air after I left. More on that in another Craic.

Craic on!

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