“Well, that’s it and that all. Thanks for being with me for the past four hours, I’m Richard Oliff and I will return, for your sins and mine, tomorrow at three. In the meantime, look after yourself and more especially other people”. This, or several variations of this has been my radio ‘call-off’ sign for the best part of the past twenty years. (Incidentally, the latter part of that sentence being used long before the Gerry Springer show was aired in the UK). My brother Tom used to walk about our house in Corby in the sixties saying “That’s it, that’s all, yours sincerely Tony Hall”, a reference to the call-off signature of a former radio 1 D.J. Subconsciously the first part of that stuck with me, hence the introduction part of mine. Though it has to be said that a certain amount of plagiarism is bound to occur in the radio business and one often hears snippets of ones own work being used by other presenters. This week alone I heard someone describing a ‘Friday’ as ‘Saturday eve, the eve of the weekend’, something I’ve used for years. One simply has to take it on the chin: It’s flattering. During my time at the BBC I would end my show by including,”and as always, it’s been an education”, which secretly I genuinely meant because each day I would find myself learning something new. This so-called call off signature almost becomes a part of ones identity, especially when colleagues or listeners take pleasure from repeating it back to one which I’ve always taken as a gesture of both recognition and affection. This idea of a call-off sign is by no means unique. Presenters in the field of entertainment have been using them since the various mediums began. My friend the late Dougie King’s on-air signature made me smile every time I heard it:
“This is Dougie King saying thank you, good day to you, whatever your doing do it safely, do it with relish, and once you start to enjoy it do it indefinitely. May you live forever, and the last voice you hear be mine”. Again, I’ve heard others try to emulate Dougie’s call-off signature but it could never work without his unique style and tone. Some, like Jackson Armstrong who’d worked on many radio stations took things to the extreme, creating a call-off signature that, quite frankly, anyone would be mad to emulate. It contained around 140 words which would be said by Armstrong in les than 19 seconds. “Don’t get that on ya … do it twice … be nice … very nice to be important … but more important to be very nice … let it all hang out … drag in the sand and make a deep rut … people in glass houses shouldn’t … a bird in the hand makes it hard to blow your nose … one good turn takes most of the blanket … you can lead a horse to water but don’t push him in because if you do nothing smells any worse than a wet horse … you can lead a horse to water, push him in, teach him the backstroke, then you really got something … Wash face in the morning … neck at night … love is life … life is love … and your LEEEEEEADER loves you, bye!”. Steve Wright who still has a show on national radio used to begin and end his show with great deal of blurb about his programme being copywrite. I was never quite sure if he was serious. One can never quite tell with so many independent production companies working for the BBC. I’ve said enough for this week. Thanks for being with me for the past 628 words!