Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rockin With My Radio

Robbie Williams most under-rated song is Radio (the most over-rated of course is Angels, which is horrific). This should be self evident to anyone, the only serious contendors being Rudebox (at least he tried something) and what's known in Australia as "that one where he's in the car with the baby" - but it's Radio that's the only Robbie song that still means anything to me, all because of the lines "Listen to the radio, and you will hear the songs you know", and to be honest, I'd imagine that's the programming motto of our local radio station here in Southern Tasmania, i'd imagine it's on the wall, on the mugs, on the t-shirts and drilled into peoples brains. Tony Martins observations about Triple M go double for down here, except the monkey that picks our records has a horrible obsession with Powderfinger.

Sorry, I've only just realised the Maori in the Domino's ad is meant to be Mary Poppins - I just thought he was a gay stalker.

The worst thing about work right now apart from "Let's have a meeting!" is the despair that your radio will bring you one way or another. If it's not on, the place sounds quiet and desperate, if it is on, the songs that play will ultimately annoy you. If' it's commercial radio, you'll pine for Triple J, and vice versa. I only realised this when I heard Miley Cyrus played before Silverchair, and thought there's no one I know who could like that segue. My three best friends respectively love Matchbox 20, Metallica and Silverchair - I love Miley Cyrus and the last CD I bought was a Hotel Coustes mix from Urban Outfitters. So as you can see, no one is happy these days with the radio.

When I lived in Burnie, everyone listened to Triple J, Australia's important when you are young alternative radio show, and specifically the Request show with Michael Tunn, who had a segment where people could make their pets sing popular songs or say phrases. He was replaced by Jane Gazzo, who used to make people confess their secret crushes on the radio. It's interesting that we thought this was incredibly subversive, when really it sounds like it could be segments on Matt and Jo - they haven't been as trendy with the music as they'd like either. It's hilarious that on the Triple J Hottest 100 CD Volume 3, #3 on the chart is Coolio and Alanis Morrisette made the cut. On the CD from 1993, Ace Of Base are on the 2nd disc. Still, it wasn't Barry Bissell and to be fair, Triple J taught me all about music on those horrible cold months of a mid Burnie winter.

Here in Tasmania, the DJs are mostly faceless, with one exception. Back when I moved to Hobart, the DJs at breakfast were Todd and Dave. I can't remember a single thing about their show other than they were the enemy (apart from Todds cover version of Song 2). Triple T (their station) carried Martin/Molloy in the afternoon, the best radio show that has ever been. However, Triple T stopped carrying it for reasons that involved Brian Harradine, some bad language, a sketch that slagged off Tasmania, and Pete Smith. Naturally, my self righteous princess self was part of the campaign to get it back on the air. I signed a petition, I put a poster on the lamp-post, and best of all, once I saw "Dave" down town and booed him. He turned around and looked genuinely hurt. I think this was immature, I mean who wants to be booed when they are buying casual slacks?

Todd left to plant vegetables or something and now we have Kim and Dave as our only commerical radio "stars", apart apparently from a fat man with a moustache who was molested by a young girl in the Heart FM advert. I've only recently realised that they are actually not real people now, but the idealised radio stereotypes. The prissy, harassed, self righteous critical housewife and the goofy white male with a clumsy attitude to racial and sexual politics. I didn't genuinely realise they were such basic stereotypes until Sally from Home and Away went on Merrick and Rosso and Cal Wilson went on Ahkmel and Ed. In each of those cases, clumsy stabs at, say, a Sheikh Hillaly joke or a Britney Spears remark that goes too far are policed and guided by the female. To get programme specific, nothing Kim and Dave say seems real, and when they drag their wives or children into discussions, it seems even less real. Every gesture, every opinion, every stunt, it's all massively contrived - it's the radio equivalent of Andy Kaufman wrestling Jerry Lawler, of a man walking near a child swinging a baseball bat in a Funniest Home Video clip. And yet, we all listen to it, for they are as trapped as we are. In return for 10% off at Bunnings and some free CDs, they make a show that has a limited scope, and we listen to the limited scope in return for 1 in 10 songs being one we like and because we are in Tasmania, with a limited scope of options.

There was one day though, I saw them dressed as Superheroes near where I park my car at work. They were preparing to be dunked in a water tank as part of a hilarious stunt. There was a fantastically attractive older woman organising everything dressed in a bright pink jacket. She was hypnotically attractive. Anyway, I was walking through the car park to go and get my paper when I walked past someone I knew. I hate talking to people, but I said hello and pointed with my elbow to the car park scene. "Pair of cunts those too," said my friend, "wouldn't even sign my Mercury". And I felt briefly sorry for them. If someone harassed me at work, I'm sure I come off as a cunt. In fact, I know I do. Vaudeville is an aesthetic of presentation that dates back to before the turn of the last century, but it's only apparent manifestation is the performance DJ. And really, they probably hate their job as much as I do, but they get on with it, and try and to get through the Miley Cyrus segments with a smile just like I try and pacify the angry customers where I work. I might have to have 20 meetings a day, but they have to get up in a cold car park and perform. It's all the same strands of the dis-satisfied life, or the dis-satisfied fool I guess. 10% off Bunnings purchases, it means nothing if you aren't happy.

Still, that's no excuse for the Crazy Calls.

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