Meanwhile In Other News #4
Veteran broadcaster Humphry Johns is at last laying down his microphone. The 106 year old, once the scourge of politicians right and left leaves, Dorset State Radio boss Prop O'Gandha says, "a much needed hole in broadcasting". Reaction to his retirement has been heartfelt as, countywide, listeners breathed a huge sigh of indifference.
Born in 1913 in the small mining town of Stoke Wake [hence his lifelong affinity with cocoanut matting) , he left school at the age of 10 and worked his way up the wet-fish ladder before transferring into broadcasting. First employed at the age of 84 by Dorset Hospital Radio to maintain its small LP collection [try as he might he failed to remove the crackle and annoyingly arhythmic click 1' 12" - 1' 59" into the station's copy of How Much Is That Doggy In the Window, leading to a mass outbreak of 101 Dalmation Syndrome] he made his first broadcast when regular presenter Tamas Appan missed his bus [the No 17 Tarrant Hinton to Thorncombe was prone to unreliable service in those days due to poor drainage and stray sheep near the Rocky Road/Bonker's Barn junction] and had to be replaced. So successful was that broadcast that 10 years later he was given another slot. [The so called "bed-pan" shift during which his choice of music, guests and topics proved a great boon.] He went on to become the main presenter of Hospital Today which he carefully steered towards the rocks for more than 10 years. On today's last and highly emotional broadcast he assured listeners that he was not disappearing altogether - a statement which was met with some incredulity at the station and widespread dismay outside it. Leaving the building he met with a small crowd of well wishers anxious to ensure that he had deposited his keys at reception.
He was, according to his own lights, very close to becoming a national institution and station bosses confirmed that he was "close to being institutionalised on several occasions", "... never more so than when he suggested that pro-euthanasia campaigner Erly Doors should take a few extra tablets and have a long lie down in a chest freezer - possibly taking several long-term bed-blockers with him".
Johns was briefly host of Dorset Television's Masterstoke, in which contestants vied with each other to stay still for as long as possible without repetition, deviation, hesitation or breathing. Several survived the experience and won holidays to Poole.