When I was at uni following my dream to become a journalist, there was a radio module that required us to read the news – live on air – for the university community radio station.
There was NO WAY I was going to put myself on air without being fully prepared. So my mum took me off to weekly voice lessons with the legendary Vaughan Harvey, famous for being one half of the Cardwell Harvey breakfast news report.
Vaughan ran a little school in an old office in Waymouth Street. It was long before newsrooms were digital and Vaughan had big reel-to-reel tape machines to record his students’ newsreading. It’s also when mobile phones were still referred to as “bricks”, had to be carried over the shoulder with a wide strap, and felt like a handbag piled full of rocks.
Vaughan would give me weird talking exercises to do with a cork in my mouth, then a few scripts to read into the microphone. He’d record my reading in the other room, and then play it back, give me feedback, and we’d do it all again for half-an-hour a week.
I was one of so many broadcast wannabes in South Australia whom Vaughan Harvey helped to make their dreams a reality. I still remember him putting my name on his website, once I landed my first radio job, and that me feel pretty special.
It just so happened that, a few years into my journalism career, Vaughan and I ended up working together in the same newsroom.
I loved my job. I liked the people I worked with and we worked hard, produced a lot of news stories and kicked some big goals.
We also had fun. Lots of it.
Vaughan Harvey was a man of few words. And gosh was he professional, just like his on air partner, Roger Cardwell. It was all very serious when they read the news.
What wasn’t serious was the way the rest of us behaved. We used to stand in front of the studio window and try to make the newsreaders laugh. Sometimes I was the one pulling faces, other times I was the one in the studio reading the news while a colleague, standing directly in front of me, jumped up and down. It was silly, frivolous. And it made my day.
No-one could ever have accused us of our silliness getting in the way of a job well done. Because it didn’t.
Vaughan never missed a beat, of course. I remember him calling me a silly little girl in that dry tone of his, a couple of times, which made me laugh even more. He must have trained me well too because, despite the shenanigans by my colleagues, I also never missed a beat nor let a giggle slip out when the red on air light was flashing.
I look back on those days fondly. Work was never as much fun again at any of my other workplaces.
A five-year study in the UK by Thomas and Maskati showed that staff who laughed together produced better work, quicker. They had better relationships. The workplace worked better for everyone, with a whole lot more collaboration.
Is fun seriously lacking in your workplace?
Vale Vaughan Harvey