History time, Phantom Dancers,
The very first 2 hour Phantom Dancer (and Program 50 for national listeners) starts this week.
I started The Phantom Dancer on 107.3 2SER Sydney way back in December 1985.
I had already been doing a 15 minute segment of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV within another program called Cityscope since Dec 1984. The segment was called, Hot House, after the song.
Then in December 1985 I was asked to fill in for a vacated time slot. The previous show had been called Jazz Direction Out and I unhappily inherited the name.
However, the show hit the right note with listeners. I even had a few live shows, bring musicians into the studio like James Morrison, John Morrison, Ian Date, Andrew Speight, Ted Heath Goes Latin (the band) and an outside recording of Mic Conway and his Hiccups Orchestra.
And the first request came in, handwritten in blue biro, posted from a motel in Blakehurst on a scrap of pad paper.
The next name for the show after a schedule reshuffle was even worse than Jazz Direction Out. I didn’t choose it. My proposed title, ‘Hot Shit!’, was not accepted (and was at that time illegal). Because the show was in a late lunchtime slot, it got called ‘Swing Sandwich’. Cringe.
In 1989 there was yet another radio schedule reshuffle and the show was moved to 11:30pm – 1am Sunday night – Monday mornings. I called it ‘Round About Midnight’, after the song. Listenership bloomed. And I did a few ‘wacky’ things like a ‘Honeysuckle Rose-a-thon’ and a live mix of women in jazz with excerpts from an episode of Lost In Space. Like, far out, daddy-o!’.
Sunday nights used to start at 6pm for me at 2SER, because that’s when I’d also record, then dub edit, a weekly half-hour quiz show that had a 2 year run on 2SER called, ‘Wordsports’, a word game devised by performance poet Komninos and which I also ran at the Harold Park Hotel.
I also won the first of two BASF Hi Fi Certificates Of Merit for a soundscape called ‘Registered Clubs Of NSW A Musical Legacy,’ and began working in radio professionally.
In 1991 The Phantom Dancer won a BASF Hi Fi Certficate Of Merit for its special, ’42 Years Of TV’, demonstrating that TV had been around much longer than the 25 years the Australian commercial networks had been crowing about that year.
Another reshuffle saw the show put back to a weekday afternoon at 1pm. This, too, was considered a dead spot like late Sunday night, but contrary to expectations, listenership grew some more. In this ‘carnation, I called the show ‘The One O’Clock Jump’.
Another reshuffle shunted the show in 1994 to another then graveyard slot of 10:30am Tuesday morning. But the show did well. And I changed the name to The Phantom Dancer.
Introduced in 1994, The Phantom Dancer was the first 2SER show with a digitally edited theme – and that’s the show theme that’s still in use.
On 8 May 1995, The Phantom Dancer, was the first 2SER show (and possibly one of the first Sydney radio shows) to be wholly digitally produced and edited. The one hour special commemorated the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe. And it went to air on CD. The hard-to-get CD blank cost me around $30.
In 1997, The Phantom Dancer almost went off-air due to a ‘music producer’ who nevertheless still thought enough of the show to claim in a prestigious jazz dictionary (without telling me) that he ‘produced’ the show. He went on to an academic career.
The Phantom Dancer did have its one only ever producer in 1999. Jo White helped refocus the show and as a result, the show became even more popular in the 2000s and 2010s.
In April 2007, a story on The Phantom Dancer, was the feature article in a Sydney Morning Herald Metro lift out.
In November 2007, The Phantom Dancer, won Best Music Show in the annual national CBAA Radio Awards.
In 2008, the show began to be repeated 6am Sunday mornings.
Then in 2010, the repeat program was moved to 6pm Saturday evenings.
In 2011 I was very honoured to receive a much coveted 2SER volunteers award.
In 2012, The Phantom Dancer, went national. It’s now heard on over 30 radio stations of the Community Radio Network across Australia. It has a particularly strong listenership on the popular ArtsoundFM in Canberra.
And now, as of 30 April 2013, The Phantom Dancer has grown to be two hours long! And I still work professionally in radio – as a voice over artist with RGM Voices (here’s my voicereel) – as well as volunteer.
I suppose that makes me one of the many radio professionals 2SER has created over the years.
Many people have supported and nurtured the Phantom Dancer since 1985 when hair was long, black pants, black coats and black pointy shoes were de rigueur, and swing was a dirty word. The list of names is too long to print here. Most important are the many 2SER Phantom Dancer subscribers who keep Australia’s only live 1920s-60s radio swing & jazz show, and 2SER, on air with their subscriptions and donations. 2SER is a community supported station. Thank you.
Hence, this week’s Phantom Dancer Video of the Week. It’s a mix of 2SER 1st Birthday Idents by Sydney commercial radio personalities for the very first subscriber drive in 1980. Long time 2SER listeners, is that the voice of John Cochrane giving George Donikian some feedback after his first ID read? Enjoy…