Magic Moments

Sometimes, knowing something is coming doesn’t spoil the reveal. Indeed, something funny can be even funnier when you know pretty much exactly what’s
going to happen. So it was last week on Danny Baker’s show (R5, Saturdays, 9-11am), when he played a tape sent in by a listener called Matt, found while clearing out his deceased godfather’s house. His godfather had less than no interest in pop music, and yet there among his effects was a reel of quarter-inch tape, labelled ‘George Harrison interview’.
In an earlier show, the listener said he had no means of playing the recording, but Baker told him to send the reel in and let the BBC take care of it.

When I hung around radio stations in my youth, I remember carrying several plastic cups of coffee in a tape reel. Now, radio studios are tapeless, but for one week only, an actual sit-up-and- beg machine was wheeled into the studio. Baker pressed Play. The interview began with an introduction explaining that it was a production of the Voice of America. The introduction went on quite a while. Baker paused the playback to comment on the tedium. Eventually, a second voice cut in, displaying no greater sense of urgency in introducing the guest. The first clue that all was not as it should be came when the year 1959 was referred to in the future tense. Harrison was still a child in 1959. Then, finally, the big build-up. The guest had been ‘active in the labour movement since 1917’. It was a different George Harrison, a venerable American trade unionist. My laughter could be heard across several counties.

Baker advised Matt that he should probably forget about buying a second home on the proceeds of the tape. I hope being part of a magic moment in radio is payback enough.

Louis on Twitter: @AlanKelloggs or email: wireless@cheeseford.net 

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