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A Wireless Love Affair

By January 29, 2008One Comment

Howard Hesseman is Johnny Fever in WKRP in CincinattiWhen I was six­teen or so, I was called in to the Careers’ Teacher’s office (next door to the wood­work room) for my one and only “careers” meet­ing. Mr Farquhar remin­isced briefly about a couple of former pupils who were good enough to rep­res­ent Essex at crick­et and Arsenal at foot­ball, as if he had any­thing to do with either achievement.

He asked me what I wanted to do. “I want to be a disc jockey on the radio, sir,” I said. “You want what?” he replied. “I want to be a disc jockey on the radio. I already volun­teer at the Newham General hos­pit­al radio sta­tion. And that was how Mike Read star­ted. Lots of people who are on the radio star­ted that way, sir.”

Slightly bemused, he said “Wouldn’t you be bet­ter off try­ing some­thing a little more … real­ist­ic?” I told him I’d pretty well thought it all out and I knew how I could go about it. At the time I was devour­ing books on radio and even read­ing Billboard to try and find out more about the busi­ness I wanted to be in. “WKRP in Cincinatti” didn’t screen in England but if it did I would have been video-ing it every week and play­ing it back frame by frame.

Look, you seem like quite a bright young lad,” said Mr Farquhar. “Take these pamph­lets away with you and have a look at them. They’re for a Management Trainee Scheme at London Transport and it obvi­ously won’t suit every­one here but you could do a lot worse.” I said “thank you” and walked out and that was the extent of my voca­tion­al guid­ance at school.

Two years later I was in New Zealand, broad­cast­ing sev­er­al times a week from the Kelburn stu­di­os of Radio Active. Three years after that I was work­ing for ZMFM on Victoria Street, pulling the mid­night till dawn shift five nights a week. I was a pro­fes­sion­al DJ on the radio, just as I said I would be. But after that, radio and I par­ted com­pany (com­mer­cial radio, repet­it­ive pro­mo­tions and mind­less playl­ists will do that to you) and I was spend­ing more of my time hanging out with act­ors, writers and dir­ect­ors rather than alone in a room with a pile of records.

I’ve always wanted to go back to it, and I’ve always believed that it was the one thing I could safely say I was really good at. But I wanted to do it on my terms, for fun. I got the chance tonight thanks to VBC who have offered a weekly Monday night slot to the Wellingtonista and my name popped up on the roster. If you were listen­ing, I apo­lo­gise for my only passing acquaint­ance with the English lan­guage (there was a lot going on) but I hope you enjoyed the music.

My attempt at record­ing the stream failed, which is a bless­ing in dis­guise, but I have added the playl­ist here so you know what you missed.

I’m hooked on radio again. I want to build a stu­dio here in the home office and make radio for people and thanks to the Internet and pod­casts (and inspired by the likes of Jesse Thorn at The Sound of Young America) it may actu­ally be pos­sible. In the mean­time, I’ll crop up on the Wellingtonista show every now and then, slowly get­ting used to the slightly eccent­ric VBC tech­no­logy, get­ting my fix.

Playlist after the jump.

  • Earl van Dyke – 6 by 6 (my old Woodside Radio theme tune, redis­covered thanks to the iTunes Music Store)
  • Willie Nelson – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)
  • Field Music – A House is Not a Home
  • Wall of Voodoo – Mexican Radio (ori­gin­al vinyl, a stu­dent radio classic)
  • The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)
  • ZZ Hill – Gimme Gimme (Northern Soul stomper)
  • Mohammed Rafi – Jaan Pehechaan Ho (Bollywood hit from the Ghost World soundtrack)
  • Paul Kelly & The Stormwater Boys – Stumbling Block (at this point I was so stressed I couldn’t even think of the word bluegrass)
  • Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
  • Netherworld Dancing Toys – NZ Love Song (rare 7″ vinyl b‑side)
  • Nellie McKay – Ding Dong
  • Antje Duvekot – Dandelion
  • The Puppini Sisters – Wuthering Heights
  • Helen Reddy – I am Woman
  • Percy Faith – The Virginian
  • Right, Left & Centre – Don’t Go (protest song from 1984 fea­tur­ing Don McGlashan, Chris Knox and Frank Stark! It worked, the All Blacks didn’t go to South Africa that year)
  • Kimya Dawson – So Nice, So Smart (from the Juno soundtrack)
  • The Dresden Dolls – My Alcoholic Friends
  • Tom Russell – Tonight We Ride
  • Syreeta – Harmour Love
  • Bernthøler – My Suitor
  • Heino – Carnival in Rio
  • Mark Jonathan Dennis – Star Wars Cantina (to the tune of Copacabana)
  • Dwight Yoakam – Little Ways
  • Cotton Mather – Password
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Please Read the Letter (a bit too pop­u­lar for VBC, I think)
  • Nick Lowe – Lately I’ve Let Things Slide
  • Limmie and the Family Cookin’ – (You Can Do) Magic
  • Doris Svensson – Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby?
  • Putty In Her Hands – NZ Music (fea­tur­ing Charlotte Yates and Christine Jeffs, whose new film Sunshine Cleaning premiered at Sundance last week and stars Emily Blunt and Amy Adams)


It’s funny. I haven’t DJ’d like that for more than 15 years but I still have night­mares about it. They’re like the ones act­ors have about being caught on stage and not know­ing the lines (or even the play). I dream that the record is fin­ish­ing and I haven’t cued the next one up yet – and people keep dis­tract­ing me, and then I have to talk while I’m cue­ing up the song and I’m pad­ding furi­ously with noth­ing to say. Awful dreams – still have them to this day.

One Comment

  • sue says:

    what an amaz­ing playlist

    i did­n’t listen and planned to hear it later, and now i can’t:/
    damm tech­no­logy not working!!!!