“I think that any disc jockey must be friendly and not talk down to his audience” 

5 December 2023 tbs.pm/78858

so says popular DJ from ‘down under’ BARRY ALLDIS

 

Barry Alldis

 

Cover of deejay magazine

From ‘deejay’ for January 1973

It was Barry Alldis’s parents who persuaded him to go for a career in Australia’s thriving radio industry. Although other people advised him to carry on with his studies, Barry’s parents simple wanted their son to be happy.

So he joined a local station – 2TM in Tamworth, a commercial station, naturally. His first job – well, he didn’t have a title, but he packed up the records! Then he was a copy-writer and panel operator and finally … a broadcaster.

“I had my first show before my nineteenth birthday, and as an announcer there you did everything – read the news, farming reports as well, and did record shows. It was valuable experience of home-town radio.”

Four years later he moved to a radio station in Brisbane and then made the big move to London in 1955. It was the following year that Barry came to join Radio Luxembourg.

“I have never been a pushy type of person and the reason I didn’t get any work in my first year was because I think I just didn’t sell myself. Then, one evening I was playing playing piano in a club in Knightsbridge and Dick Norton came up to me. He asked me whether I was a musician and I said, ‘actually, I’m an out of work disc jockey’. He said that had just left Radio Luxembourg.”

And that chance meeting led to greater things and Barry eventually made contact with Geoffrey Everitt, then 208’s production manager. “I think Geoffrey thought that every disc jockey who left Australia wanted a job at Radio Luxembourg, but anyway I got a job.

“I found life in the Grand Duchy exciting. There was a certain novelty in it for me – you know, being the Australian stuck in the middle of Europe. In October 1958 I was appointed Head of the British Department in Luxembourg and began an eight year run as presenter of the Top 20 show.”

 

 

It was this show that made Barry a part of radio history. His popularity spread throughout Europe and in Belgium he was signed up by a record company and one of those discs – “Like Lazy” – was released in Britain. In 1961 came his TV debut with “Thank Your Lucky Stars”. Other TVs followed, like “Blind Corner”, “Juke Box Jury” and, amazingly, “Panorama”!

After many years with 208, Barry decided to make the move and go free-lance. As a household name, he found no difficulty in getting work. For the Light Programme, he moved in on “Housewives Choice”, “Newly Pressed” and “Swingalong” and then on to Radio 1 for “Late Night Extra”.

“That move was not easy,” Barry now admits. “In fact, looking back I think I made a few mistakes. You see, I tried not to sound too commercial on the BBC and I became more serious in my approach. That was wrong.

“Now I’m myself again and I think I’m natural and relaxed. Of the shows I have at the moment, the Sunday morning one is certainly the greater challenge because, in a way, I have two audiences. The first hour of the breakfast show is aimed at the Radio 2 listener with sweet music, but at 8 am I open up Radio 1 and in comes the pop. We’ve had some great sessions for the show like Ralph McTell and Pentangle and play stuff like Hendrix, Cocker and the like. I love doing the programme.”

The Sunday morning Radio 1 hour has earned Barry praise from various quarters – including university mags who reckon, outside of the “Sounds of the Seventies” presentations, that it’s one of the best things on the network. Wrote one college guy: “Who’d have ever thought Barry Alldis would play sounds like that – isn’t it funny how some things change?” But do they? – I reckon a professional broadcaster should be able to turn his hand at anything in radio terms.

Barry Alldis has that art of communication. That comes through even at ten to two in the morning on his “Night Ride” programme. Unlike other DJs he’s never stuck for something interesting to say. What’s the answer to the success?

“I think that any disc jockey must be friendly and not talk down to his audience. When I’m on the air, I actually try to visualise a person or a family I am speaking to – you can’t think of a whole mass of people, it doesn’t work that way. The best advice I can give to a would-be DJ is just to be yourself, it’s the best way.”

Barry has been a DJ for 20-odd years. Has he ever thought of working on the admin side of the industry? “In Luxembourg I had what I suppose you would call a semi-executive position for eight years and that involved quite a bit of desk work. Frankly, I’d rather stay this side of the mike.”

That shouldn’t present a problem. Like really good wine, Barry Alldis only improves with age. So, here’s to the next 20 years!

 

You Say

3 responses to this article

Nigel Stapley 5 December 2023 at 7:48 pm

More on “Like Lazy” (a self-composition) here: https://www.45cat.com/record/f11642

Susan Andrew 8 December 2023 at 7:08 pm

An interesting article.
Thanks Rodney.

Paul Mason 22 January 2024 at 2:06 pm

Sadly Barry Alldis (your DJBA) died at the age of just 50 in 1982 . He left the BBC in the late 1970s returning to Luxembourg for what was a short time.
DJBA presented Night Ride on BBC Radio 1/2 jointly and was famed for his ghost stories which he took back to Luxie.
Sadly he was to join the ghosts himself.RIPDJBA!

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