Comment from Peter Saxon.
It was 1972, on the third night of my first job in radio at 2XL, Cooma that I found myself alone on-air for the first time in my life – nervous and afraid of doing something wrong.
Although I’d had one on one tutorage in announcing and reading commercials from the legendry Eric Wright at 2KY, I’d had no training in operating studio equipment. I assumed – wrongly – that I’d be working in a similar set-up in a regional station to that which I’d experienced at the palatial metro station, coincidently, opposite the Metro cinema in Orwell Street in Kings Cross.
On my arrival at 2XL, as I was shown around the studios, much to the amusemnent of my new colleagues, I was horrified to learn that there was no control room and no panel operator. I had to do all that myself, while presenting a program.
After a crash course in the workings of the panel, cart and tape machines and how to cue a record on a turntable equipped with a slip-mat, I was thrown in the deep end. My mentor showed me one last thing before he left the building and me to my own devices: the old black Bakelite phone on the top right corner of the desk with a big red light on it where the dialer should have been. “If that red light starts flashing,” he advised, “you better finish what you’re saying and answer it as quick as you can.”
Somehow, I’d managed to almost get through my first hour without too many mistakes or dead air. It was with some relief that I announced, “The time is fast approaching nine o’clock. National news is next,” and played a song that I hoped would time up to the pips – a skill I’d only had demonstrated to me an hour before.
No sooner had the record started, than the red light on the phone began to flash. In panic mode as I picked it up, I was greeted by a gruff, menacing voice yelling at me. I had no idea who this voice belonged to, but it sounded as if he owned the joint – which, as I later found out, he did.
The voice said, “Listen you moron. Time does not fast approach anything. Time is constant. It is exactly what the clock on the wall says it is to the nearest minute.” SLAM!!! And that was it. Welcome to radio.
If I’d gained any confidence during that first hour, it was zero by the time the 9 pm pips came on with little or no improvement over the next three hours as I pondered whether I’d have a job in radio the next day and what it would do to my career hopes if I didn’t.
It was only when I moved to my next station, 2KA, Katoomba that I found there were better, more professional ways of dealing with on-air mistakes. Unless it is an absolute emergency, you wait till the presenter finishes their shift and then have a quiet chat about what could be improved.
I’m not sure whether missing a commercial break qualifies as an absolute emergency or what manner or tone 3AW’s head of football Craig Moore used to inform Rex Hunt of the issue. But if there was an opportunity to find another slot in the broadcast to for a make-good then obviously the two men needed to communicate with each other, even while Hunt was on air.
Although Moore may have technically breached accepted protocol, Hunt’s on-air comments which, to my mind, were nothing more than an ego driven rant, were beyond the pale.
One would think that someone of Hunt’s age and experience would have the wisdom to wait till after the show to have a private chat with Moore if he felt aggrieved by his actions, not belittle the guy and the call-sign to a vast audience of 100’s of 1,000’s of listeners and now millions more from socials and other media.
It’s conduct unbecoming a professional broadcaster. Rex, you owe Craig Moore an apology.