You’ve probably heard about Seven’s Matt Doran’s not listening to Adele’s new album before interviewing her. Classic “you had one job” kinda material. I’m not defending Matt, but I’ve got three embarrassing celebrity interview stories of my own from my time on radio if you’d like to hear them?
Story number one was my first interview with someone famous. Not my first conversation, that was with Diesel, aka Johnny Diesel, as I answered the call in the 4CRM reception and put it through to the announcer on air. This first story is about TISM.
TISM had just released 2004’s The White Albun was described to The Age as “basically what Jet are doing, which is taking The Beatles ideas and changing them a little bit at the end. If it’s worked for Jet, it’s going to work for us, that’s what we’re hoping.”
Their record company had emailed out opportunities for phone interviews and I, volunteer aspiring radio announcer at 107.5 FM Stereo 4CRM Community Radio Mackay keenly replied in the affirmative.
At the allotted time the phone rings, I put the phone in the second studio in speakerphone mode, point a microphone at that speaker, decide not to wear headphones, click record on the Sony MiniDisc recorder, and answer the call.
It’s my first phone interview, I’m nervous as hell, I have lost my paper notes, and I’ve forgotten the name of the person I’m interviewing. I think on my feet and pretend that we’re live on air. My thought is that I can make out like we’re live and get them to tell me their name.
Ron Hitler-Barassi is a smart man and he senses my screwup. He’s got his notes. He interrupts my spiel about how I’ve got my good mate from TISM on them phone and I’d like them to introduce themselves to my (very small) audience.
Ron Hitler-Barassi says “if we’re such good friends Joshua Withers from 4CRM Mackay, why don’t you introduce me to everyone listening.” The interview is me stumbling over myself the whole time and it’s terrible.
Luckily because I wasn’t wearing studio headphones I couldn’t hear that I had left the horse racing satellite channel up and the interview was me, Ron Hitler-Barassi, and the horse racing. Sadly lost to the archives.
The second story is from a few years later when I’d gotten a paid job in commercial radio - as a broadcast engineer/nerd/IT guy for Sea FM on the Gold Coast - but I actually wanted to be on air so I was volunteering hosting breakfast at the station now called Juice 107.3FM.
It was really running me down, on air from 6am to 9am as a volunteer and then working a full-time job after. Tired does not begin to describe my state of being. This morning I’d gotten off air, forgot I had a phone interview, and fell asleep on a couch.
I’m asleep, and the radio station receptionist wakes me up and tells me that Guy Sebastian is on hold for me.
I remember that I was supposed to listen to his new Memphis album, and I was supposed to have researched his motives behind recording the album, and what it all meant - I had done none of this.
Fudged the whole interview, revealed to Guy Sebastian that I hadn’t listened to the album, didn’t know what Memphis music was like, and I was a fish out of water. Guy’s management banned me from doing future phone interviews. Rightly so.
Embarrassing story number three is from my very first day on air at what was then called Star FM Port Macquarie, formerly Rox, now Hit. I had a fill-in co-host for the week til my actual co-host was home from mental health break after the last co-host almost drove her mad.
It was International Men’s Day 2010, so my pitch was that we try and get as many international men on the breakfast show as possible.
I start tweeting and mentioning people furiously figuring if I asked lots of people, a handful would reply. One of them was @russellcrowe.
I don’t know why Russell Crowe called. My guess is that he thought I was a kid pranking him and he’d freak me out by actually calling.
Either way, here’s the awkward and uncomfortable recording on Soundcloud.
I die inside listening to that.