DOING LIVE RADIO CAN BE HAIR-RAISING. ESPECIALLY WHEN WE GET OUT OF THE SOUND-PROOF BOOTH IN CAIRNS AND BROADCAST FROM THE REAL WORLD. THINGS GO WRONG BUT THE SHOW MUST GO ON.
Links fail, computers freeze, batteries die. Guests don’t arrive, a thunder-storm puts the station off air. A broadcaster has to keep going, no matter how many wheels fall off the enterprise. I’ve had some challenging moments.The audio play-back system failed one afternoon, and I had to sing the ABC News theme before a local bulletin. The celebrity who turned up for an interview in a condition best described as “away with the pixies”, although I didn’t know it until we were well underway.
I’ve had all kinds of crazy moments on the radio, but none to match the day in October 2011, in the Cape York town of Coen, when a bull stampeded through our broadcast site.
We had a great spot – the front verandah of the historic Homestead Guest House. It goes back to 1933, the first building constructed in Coen, and a Cape York social hub ever since.
We were live to air, on day two of our Cape York Peninsula road trip. I was interviewing Sergeant Matt Shaw, officer in charge of the Coen police district. It’s one of the biggest police districts anywhere, and Matt was telling me about the challenges of covering such a big patch of ground. Matt’s a good talker, it’s all going well, the link to the transmitter is hanging in despite some stormy weather. Doesn’t get better than this, right?
And then the bull decided he wanted to be on the radio too. Click the audio player to hear what happened next.
Colin is 11. He wants to be an aeronautical engineer when he grows up. Maybe he should consider a career in radio too.
For info about the Homestead Guest House, Coen and the surrounding country go to