I was asked recently to recount the concept behind a broadcast Euronet made over Christmas 1992. (I’ve spoken about the satellite radio station Euronet before here. Have a read to get up to speed!)
They were asking about the “Party” broadcast. Or lack of party broadcast. I guess it was a skit on every major radio anorak ‘disaster’ that had gone before, but it was also an experiment in having fun, and probably our finest hour. Or 8 hours.
|(Pic stolen from Mike Kerslake)|
Here’s the premise: For the day, the entire staff of the radio station were due to be having an on-air party. However, some mysterious unspecified authorities were determined to stop us from having this party. The particular authorities were not to be revealed, but instead to be constantly referred to as “THEY”. That was it.
Now, the whole broadcast was an eight hour loop, which we just left playing. The concept being that the start of the recording would have continuity with the end and would appear to be never ending, so that anybody listening at any time wouldn’t feel they’d missed anything.
So, to be a bit boring about it, the recording started with lots of pops and bangs and some Tijuana style Beatles tunes. After or during these tunes, two on-air presenters are asking if it’s safe to come out of hiding in the emergency studio, and are looking to see if the coast is clear. This slowly evolves back into an attempt to have our party.
Eight hours later, as “THEY” have captured (or killed?!?) all but the same two presenters who escape into the loft with the emergency studio (which only has Beatles tunes in it) we end on a point where everything suddenly goes dead. And that nicely segues into the 8 hour recording starting all over again.
Now then, here’s how the rest of it worked. I gave this briefing of the overall concept to all the staff and other than a few pointers as to what we would need to achieve at the various junctions in the 8 hours, absolutely everything was an ad-libbed improv and recorded non-stop as-live.
Yes, there were a few whoopsy moments when things didn’t sound quite believable, but they were suitably covered by the professionalism and imagination of everybody taking part. We also had to pace ourselves so that we didn’t run out of things to have happening too fast!
Generally speaking, each presenter would take a turn on the air, driving the mixing desk, trying to play records and present a show. During his show ‘reporters’ and other presenters would ‘burst in’ and excitedly reveal what was happening. The main presenter would react quite ‘genuinely’ to this because everything was unfolding to him as it would if it was real. He had no warning of what was going to happen. Those bursting in would have also set up maybe a telephone link or a bit of audio to illustrate whatever was unfolding.
So many things happened. As an example, “THEY” closed in on the station and were trying to break the door down, shouting at us through loud-hailers whilst Euronet supporters were shouting and jeering back at “THEM” in the street and rocking their cars. All of this could be heard in the background. We’d then broadcast a surreal confrontation, scuffle and arrest with ‘eye witness reports’ describing everything as the next of our presenters disappeared by being overpowered by those who just wouldn’t let us have our party and were picking us off one by one.
Eventually of course, “THEY” very noisily breached our various levels of security, including our main studio, leaving just the last two of us up in the loft.
At regular intervals we’d broadcast news summaries recapping on what had happened, what was happening. These were obviously also written after the various things happened, just as they would have been if everything was, er, real and really happening.
Throughout the broadcast we were of course thanking our loyal supporters and promising that “Euronet will continue” and saying all the emotional words and phrases that come with anoraky radio!
Well, well. Naturally, of course, describing the whole thing in the ‘cold’ way of this article can only leave you, dear reader, with a bit of a “whatever” thought about it. It is difficult to convey in words just how good this broadcast actually was not just for us but for the listeners. Even non-anoraks loved it, honest.
In conclusion, 20 years later, I have to say a couple of things.
Firstly, what was amazing about the whole broadcast was just how good it was, despite being unscripted. It was pure anorak heaven radio. It relied on the combined creativity of the team working on the fly, and since we were all anoraks, and had a very positive interest in radio broadcasting we all seemed to ‘get it’. This level of creativity is desperately missing from today’s radio. These kind of people are sadly missing from today’s radio.
Secondly, there is precious little of the past that I ever recall these days,having pretty crap long term memory. Most of my memories surrounding Euronet have gone or are very sporadic. However, I recall most the party broadcast with great fondness. I don’t usually live in the past, but it would be great to hear it again, so if anybody has a recording, I’d love you forever…!