When radio was king in Q’town


We’re in a small independent radio station, Radio K.A.O.S., in Queenstown in 1987.

Everything’s humming, so station owner Errol Spearme decides to float it.

Then, you guessed it, the sharemarket crashes.

Spearme’s swallowed up by Giant Radio Network (motto, “keeping the little guy down”), run by a foreigner, Amadeus, who decides to fire all but one of the employees and replace them with computers.

All this, and what happens next, forms the plot for another hilarious Whirlwind Product-ions musical, Radio Kaos, that’s being performed at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall from August 28 till 31.

It’s been written by Arrowtowner Charlotte Graf, who sold advertising for former Queenstown station Q92FM in the ’90s, and who plays the deranged and maniacal sales manager, Joan Fisher.

She’s been helped by long-time local comedian Mike Legge, who’s written the sales jingles and also plays black-humoured funeral director Mr Black.

The co-producer, alongside Graf, is again Whirlwind’s Margaret O’Hanlon – it’s the Queenstowner’s eighth full-scale production in 10 years.

She thinks the musical’s timely “because Queenstown is on the verge of changing, and there are so many people who don’t remember what it was like”.

“And it coincides with the fact that radio has changed so it’s no longer the art form it was because people now listen to Spotify.”

Most of the musical’s 18 songs are Australasian hits from that time from the likes of Dave Dobbyn, Split Enz, Peking Man and The Exponents.

“It was probably the first and last time that overseas record labels took an interest in New Zealand music,” O’Hanlon says.

Radio Kaos’ cast of 15 in-cludes several newcomers such as Australian Alex Littlewood, who plays sought-after DJ Mickey Stevens.

Littlewood’s probably going to be the first ever actor to appear in three local community theatre productions in one year – he was in Showbiz’s Avenue , in May, and is also in Remarkable Theatre’s play One Man Two Guvnors next month.

And playing Cromwell electrical retailer Andy Garrison (a play on Gary Anderson) is former Queenstown actor Mark Ferguson who nowadays drives trains in Auckland.

The voices of veteran local weatherman David Crow and ex-Q92FM manager and Glenorchy broadcaster Chas Drader will also be heard.

Tickets available from Eventfinda.co.nz