How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain; Part 121.

20Oct14

In 1999, I declared war on Germany. I was on the air at BRMB Radio in the West Midlands at the time.

The Rover plant at Longbridge employed 14,000 people and an estimated 50,000 more worked for companies supplying them. Rover had been bought by BMW but things were not good. Rover was making a loss and one report said that the German owners referred to Rover as, “The English Patient”. BMW were talking about closing down Longbridge.

The phone-in lines were running hot, it was all anyone was talking about. There was a lot of bitterness aimed at Germany. Some even thought the Germans were getting even because the Longbridge plant had been used to make tanks, ammunition, Bren guns and mortars during the war.

In a speech on the air, I announced that Birmingham was now at war with Germany.

Our campaign was called “Krush the Krauts”. We banned anything remotely German. This included the playing of music by Kraftwerk, Berlin and Armand Van Heldon (who’s actually from Boston Massachusetts but his name sounded German). That was backed up with listeners calling in telling me about things they had de-Krauted. Dachshunds and Dobermans were re-named as “Longbridgers” and “Rovermans” and over the theme to The Great Escape, I called fast food restaurants on the air and convinced them to change the word “Hamburger” on their menu to “Brumburger”.

I decided to call the boss of BMW in Munich live on the air but first asked if anyone who spoke German could tell me what to say. Lots of people called up and eventually I had my speech written out phonetically. When I called BMW, I only got as far as the main man’s PA but I recited the speech in German which let them know exactly what we thought of their plans to close Longbridge and included a mention of two world wars and one World Cup.

If my campaign made any difference, it didn’t help in the long run. The following year, Rover Cars and the Longbridge factory were sold to the Phoenix Consortium, who renamed it MG Rover Group, in a management buyout for the token sum of £10. Five years late, the Phoenix Consortium put the MG Rover group into administration.

The only winner in this war was BRMB, who went back to number one in the ratings.

Craic on!

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http://www.mackmedia.co.uk/8th-mack-nuggets-audio-video

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link. If you’d like to talk to me about it, call me on +44 1438 422106 between 6 and 9 weekday mornings (UK time) on BOB fm.

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