Saturday, January 13, 2007

London Radio Shocker!!!

I have really fallen behind on my blogging. There's so much I want to tell you. I will try to catch up this weekend. I was listening to Opal Bonfante's "London Calling," late Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning, while I worked on a blog article. All of a sudden, I hear Opal say it will be her last show on the Big L...EVER! I felt like I had to call her, so I dialed the studio line. It rang and rang, and rang, then rang off. I hit redial. It rang some more, then she finally answered. I greeted her by saying, "peaches." It's an affection term I started using over the last four years, with women I like. It's funny some of the things people come up with to say to people they like. In France, calling someone "little cabbage" is a term of endearment. I used to call my step-son, "Spud," which is a slang term for a potato. You can refer to someone as "the apple of my eye." What is it with the fruit and vegetable references? How about calling someone, "my little steak?" W. C. Fields used to say, "my little chickadee." Anyway, I digress.
Opal said, "it's true," as if reading my mind. She confirmed that she was quitting the Big L 1395AM and that the main reason was the interference, by new management, with her show. Those of you who have been reading this blog since September will recall that I wrote about management ruining Opal's show when it first happened (see "London Isn't Calling Anymore," September 18, 2006). The first change I noticed and complained about was that Opal was forbidden from taking calls from listeners anymore. I found that the most entertaining part of her show and not just because I was a regular caller featured on the show. In this day and age, when there are i-Pods and MP3s, I hardly need to listen to radio to hear music. I can play all the music I like on my computer, for example. I didn't listen to Opal for the music she played. It was her humor and her interactions with callers that was entertaining. Years ago, radio became formulaic. Management would determine the playlist and the DJs wouldn't do anything other than talk between music sets and make announcements. One radio show sounded like another and the DJ's creativity was diminished. In the extreme, some stations were automated, eliminating the DJ completely. That was one of the things that put me off becoming a radio DJ, myself. When I did club DJing, I got to pick the music sets myself. I think things have now come full circle, due to the new technologies. If radio is going to survive, DJs and presenters must be allowed to become personalities again. Their creative individuality must be released. Opal was doing that. The problem is management stuck in the past. Opal's new manager, Chris, killed off most of what made her show unique and compelling. He stopped her taking calls on air and ended the celebrity interviews. That's why I took to calling him, "Darth Chris." The only thing that seemed untouched was that she continued to be able to pick the music. At the time, I was disappointed that Opal didn't seem willing to fight for her show. It almost seemed like she was afraid of Darth Chris, or of getting fired.
Now, four months later, she was quitting over it. She announced her departure on the air, without giving management any notice, certainly a gutsy move. If she was willing to do that and felt that strongly about her show, why didn't she refuse to go along with the changes, back in September? Why not give management an ultimatum? Threaten to quit, unless the changes were reversed? Opal assured me that she has a new job, in television. She couldn't reveal the details yet, but it will keep her London based. She also continues to present for Gala TV, on Sky Channel 841. She vows that she will be back on radio somewhere, in the future. I will miss her doing radio, in the meantime. I won't be listening to the Big L anymore, as she was the only descent thing on the station. I hope Darth Chris is happy.


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