How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain; Part 125.


Music on the radio is messed with and it doesn’t always sound better.

If a song has a wishy washy start it’ll be cued in so it starts at the bit where it really gets going. ‘Relax’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and UB40’s version of ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love” are just a couple of examples. It makes sense but you can go too far. I remember hearing Bohemian Rhapsody on a radio station in Auckland New Zealand that started with “Mama, just killed a man…” The first verse (Is this the real life) was missing.

Songs aren’t always played right to the very end either. There’s some instrumental stuff at the end of David Bowie’s ‘Changes’ that gets cut off and so is that trippy bit at the end of ‘Strawberry Fields’. Some stations make special “breakfast edits” of songs which are shorter so that when they’re played in busy breakfast shows there’s more time for commercials.

A station I worked at in Australia used to speed up slow songs so they fitted in better with the feel of the radio station. I made the mistake of telling this to a program director in England once. He went ahead and sped up every song his station played, even the fast ones. It sounded ridiculous.

I think the most interesting way music is altered for radio is when it comes to censorship. Whenever I played the 1970 hit, ‘Lola’ by The Kinks on a radio in Australia, Ray Davies sang “ drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola.” When I play the song on British radio he sings, “Cherry-Cola”. It’s all  because the BBC won’t play the “Coca-Cola” version because they can’t advertise. The irony is that now Coke sell a drink called Cherry-Cola. When Cherry-Cola was released in 1985, they must have benefited from fifteen years of pre-promotion thanks to the non-commercial BBC.

In 1973, Paul Simon’s ‘Kodachrome’ went to number two in the US charts, number one in Canada and top twenty in Australia. It wasn’t released in the UK because the BBC wouldn’t play it, Kodachrome is a brand name.

Swearing is edited out for airplay but it’s not always done well and there’s no consistency. The radio version of Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on The Bright Side’ has the lyric, “Life’s piece of spit” but the word it replaces is left in Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ and the Crowded House song, ‘Four Seasons in One Day’.

The worst edit for censorship I ever heard was on Radio Northland in New Zealand where they played a version of The Beatles ‘Ballad of John and Yoko’ and the word ‘Christ’ had been reversed. So the chorus went, “Tsirhc, you know it ain’t easy…” Is the word ‘Christ’ offensive unless it’s played backwards?

Craic on!

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