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Thunder, power failures and loopy emergency tapes.

November 26th, 2005 at 06:26pm

There is something very wrong with the electricity infrastructure in the Canberra suburb of Mitchell, where 2CC and 2CA broadcast from. Mitchell, it would seem, suffers from the most blackouts of any part of Canberra, which is very odd considering that Michell must use a huge amount of electricity and would be one of ActewAGL’s main revenue sources. Todays outage is understandble as there has been a large amount of thunderstorm activity around Canberra, but it has been known to go out in Mitchell at random from time to time.

Today, for the first time since my journey to Erindale to see the 2CC Kingswood, I had the strange “wince-and-pleasure” of hearing some alphabetical love song (presumably from the late 40’s or early 50’s) which forms part of the 2CC emergency tape. This was due to a power failure in Mitchell which caused the 2CC and 2CA studios to lose power, and the emergency tapes which are presumably off site to kick in. Last time I heard the Alphabet song it was due to a power failure. The 2CC emergency tape is cleverly constructed to have an ad break at the start which runs long enough to cover most ad break failures (and give general outages long enough to recover), this is followed by “Down Memory Lane” which is a purpose built program filled with a large array of music, including the light and bubbly alphabet song which has a habit of getting into your head…A you’re adorable B you’re so beautiful…

2CA on the other hand a slightly more unusual emergency tape. It starts with a station ID which they stopped using two or three years ago, it then launches into The Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar”. Unfortunately, there seems to be excess noise between the studio and the tape which makes it cut out, wait 15 seconds and start again, effectively driving people insane. 2CC’s emergency tape also started repeating itself at one stage, but nowhere near as often as 2CA who were on the first song for most of the 20 minutes.

The power outage did acheive one thing, it more or less removed the sydney-centric “Radio Trading Post” segment of the Glenn Wheeler Weekend Afternoon show. That segment, along with Sydney Gardening, might be useful in Sydney, but they provide a monotonous experience for Canberra listeners who have already heard hours of similar programs in the morning. Overall I enjoy Glenn’s show, but I don’t think the 2 hours of Sydney gardening or the half hour of Sydney Trading Post is terribly relevant in Canberra.

John B1_B5 also reported hearing 2CC lose Sydney programming between 4:45 and 4:55 and play music in the comments here. I don’t know whether this has to do with electricity problems or satellite failures as I didn’t hear it for myself. I’ll assume it was a satellite failure in this timetable of events below.

  • 4:45 2UE feed goes down, local music program begins
  • 4:55 2UE feed returns, Sydney programming resumes
  • 5:30 Power failure in Mitchell, emergency tape plays
  • 5:50 Power restored, Sydney programming resumes. (With unusual beeping noises)
  • 5:57 Music (not emergency tape) starts whilst Sydney programming stops (unexpected sydney ad break perhaps?)
  • 6:00 Music fades as Sydney news begins…

Since 6PM things have been fine, lets hope they stay that way.

People might think that emergency tapes are boring, but really they have to be one of the most interesting things on radio, because you usually don’t know what’s going to happen next, will the program continue? Will the normal programming come back? And depending on the length of the outage, what happens when the tape reaches the end?


Entry Filed under: Canberra Stories,Samuel's Editorials,TV/Radio/Media

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  • 1. John B1_B5  |  November 26th, 2005 at 8:09 pm

    Speaking of “Down Memory Lane” , this logging of outages and emergency programme times reminds me of the ABC days when we had to write every incident in a log book, including the titles of any records we had to play at the transmitter site, when the programme line failed.
    I think it may be in 2CC’s interest to have some impartial ‘monitors’ logging programme outages, transmitter off air, etc. (so that they can adjust their maintenance schedule accordingly ).

  • 2. troydanger  |  November 27th, 2005 at 1:37 am

    It reminds me of having a go at doing a graveyard shift on community radio one night. We were about to do a show on the history of funk by only reading only sleeve notes of funk records. We put on afro american voices to add to the nostalgia. We had eaten some dubous cookies that one of the faux soul daddys had brought along.

    Somewhere inbetween James Browns ‘Papas got a brand new band’ and Dyke and the Blazers ‘Funky Broadway” I had accidently kicked a button under the desk that turned the mixing desk off. We were so into reading Grand Funk Railroads sleeve notes titled “Funk Wars” – a parody of the lesser known “Star Wars” that we did not notice that the phones were flashing red. About ten mintutes later, after we had read “Funk Wars” and played a funkadelic song from West Coast Grand Funk, we answered the phone. It was the station manager and he told us that we had been off the air. My friend who was being Grand Master Funk quickly realised what the problem was and rectified it. We were back on air.

    This was quite embarassing and not at all funky. So I broke the ice by saying to the listeners – “The dead air was brought to you by Funky flex and can be purchased from all good record stores”. We all laughed because I was really funny in saying that and it got us out of a lot of trouble.

    “The dead air……purchased at all good record stores”. I think that could be a random quote Samuel. God I’m funny he he

  • 3. Samuel  |  November 27th, 2005 at 2:49 am

    Well, that rules out a replay of that day! Sounds like you had fun anyway.

  • 4. stan_T  |  November 30th, 2005 at 8:21 pm

    Mate, I have just moved up a floor where I work because of renovations. Now I have to put up with Lawsie!
    After just one very tough week of listening ( or hearing) I can safely say that Lawsie’s listeners are by far the stupidest morons I have heard on the radio in quite some time.
    Oh and by the way…Samuel you are not very funny…but I do appreciate the effort.

  • 5. Samuel  |  November 30th, 2005 at 8:47 pm

    In my mind, moving up a floor and being subjected to Lawsie would be a good thing, but seeing as you don’t like Piers Akerman I can understand where you’re coming from.


November 2005

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