TFC – Radio Days

The Full Catastrophe was broadcast on Joy 94.9, Melbourne’s gay & lesbian radio station, between March 2008 and March 2013.

Here is its “mission statement” as proclaimed by program creator and guru Andy Bell.

“Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? I’m a man. So I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe.”

Those words are from the movie “Zorba the Greek” and sorta kinda explain the weekly extravaganza of musical lint that is “The Full Catastrophe” on Joy 94.9 and www.joy.org.au each Saturday from 2100 (Australian Eastern Time – check local guides for details and spelling mistakes).

The idea of the show is deceptively simple.

There should be NO restriction to what you can and can’t hear.

Or to put it another way, it’s a musical sock drawer where there are comfortable pairs, pairs with holes in them and pairs you can’t recall ever wearing.  Try them on and jump feet first into a musical bubble bath.


“TFC” is probably the only show where you can hear the Presets, Gaelic punk, Ronnie Barker, Yma Sumac,  Etta James and Bing Crosby and the NZ Symphony Orchestra in the same half  hour or so.

And so you should.

NB TFC rules of association state that “there shall be no Celine Dion”.  A recent amendment (passed unanimously) added “and Michael Bolton”.

Andy Bell started the kerfuffle in 2008 and stumbled his way to 100 programs and a couple more.

By that time he had picked up a musical hitch-hiker by the name of Tim Harrison and the pair strutted and fretted their weary and weird way to bring the tastiest tunes to the ears AND brainboxes of Joy listeners for about a year or so.

Sometimes AB & TH did it together, sometimes alone – variety in all things.

Then in February 2011 Tim was lured away by the promise of earning a living on a Saturday night, but he has been tempted back from time to time.

And then there’s Hikaru Freeman.

He brought his wit, wisdom and love of the absurd to the timeslot through Joy Eurovision & EuroSongCountdown 2012 and was never asked to leave.

Why would he be ?

Hikaru brought new musical genres to the show as well as  extending TFC’s digital delights.

Whether they are in front of a live microphone, quaffing a hot chocolate or sharing a tasty lunch Andy & Hikaru have been known to chat a bit on lots of issues.

TFC’s mission statement from day one was to deliver a world-class level of crotchet & minim related material on various platforms to the listener/content receiver/aurally engaged consumer potential retail unit.

And so it remains.

Jump on board the “TFC” train stopping at ALL stations.

And here’s Zorba and we will ALL dance!

Each week we strive to make “TFC” splendiferous.

Or to put it another way: Nemo scit lusisti malum hoc (Nobody knows you’ve played the wrong thing)

TFC was presented for its entire run by Andy Bell.  First Tim Harrison, then Hikaru Freeman joined in the whole malarkey.

Tim Harrison

Tim Harrison – actual results may vary

Tim  Harrison came along to answer the phones for TFC and ended up sharing the show in 2010 & 2011.  He still pops back from time to time.  But that’s another story …

All About Tim – or what Andy couldn’t find out using Google:

Once a city slicker, now happily tree-changed into an official country bumpkin. If you don’t believe me, I have a kelpie, a ute, a chainsaw AND a polyester lumberjack jacket. With aspirations to be the King of Kyneton one day, I presently settle for a small corner in the shed. Handy with a hammer and a computer, I’m a jack-of-all-trades. Also a bit of an academically minded boffin with a passion for getting all worked up over media-related stuff. I also can’t resist a good used book or one rescued from the ‘cancelled’ bin by my librarian mum. Since February 2011, I am now a TFC Foreign Correspondent (well, Kyneton’s not exactly close to the studio you know). With all the Newslessness and musical fluff in this great land of ours, TFC’s global reach has been (slightly) extended through the new eTFC – a fully franked and rubber-stamped subsidiary of TFC’s multi-platform interactive media experience.


Since 1994, happily tethered to my other half via a bond formed while wearing green jeans and a purple/black striped top (you had to be there).

Shameful confessions:

Wearing green jeans and a purple/black striped top but it WAS 1994 so that’s OK… isn’t it? I also ate precisely one kilogram of M&Ms in five days after Christmas 2008. For shame…

Who’d have thought:

5’ 11” on a good day, brown/light brown/tan/fawn/beige/kinda greenie brownie eyes, nondescript brown hair with wisdom-induced greyness at the sides (yes, I keep telling myself… it’s wisdom). No tattoos that I can remember getting. Blog-less (except for this one of course!), Twitter-less and FaceBook-less. Spent about a decade in IT and now doing a degree in my ‘spare’ time all about Media.

Teddy Bear:

His name is Athol and has seen many a cold night under the doona relentlessly kneaded by multiple cats over the years. Athol’s a little flatter than he used to be. I tried to book him in to the bear hospital shop place to have him … ‘topped up’ … but they turned him away saying something about only stuffing their “own bears”. Elitist bearist snobs…

Fave footy players:

That’s the game with the puck and the sticks right?

Fave cricketer:

I don’t like cricket. Howzat!

Fave Eurovision song:

I’m an ESC-noramous so know precious little about ESC. That’s the real reason I’ve sidled up to Andy… to elicit all the ESC-ness I can from him and then hock it on eBay.

Fave online:

www.abc.net.au (Andy stop twisting my arm, I already said I’d put the ABC in there. OWWWW!)

My University study portal (I study remotely so it’s my second home)

The local weather site – it gets cold up my way so it’s nice to see just how brisk it is.

And anything that relates to my study, DIY, chickens, animal care, living in the country or useless news…

Bizarre claims to fame:

I was once the face of an A4 glossy brochure that was sent to every customer of a ‘big 4 bank’ nationally advising them of the biggest ever increase in account fees. Ever. For shame…

I’m also the founder of Newsless, TFC’s contribution to the global pool of useless and trivial nonsensical facts. If no-one else is reporting it, it’s only because it’s just too banal for words.

Fave food:

I have a terrible weakness for chocolate although at my tender age, one must be careful…. Love my mum’s cooking (aw, shucks) and love getting a bit carried away with garlic, sour cream, chives and other fabulishousness in the kitchen at home. My other half also makes very, very good Gingernut Biscuits.

Fave tipple:

I’m a brown spirit kind of person so you’ll find me next to the man behind the man behind the bar.

Fave hangouts:

I live in the sticks so my shed is my number 1 hangout. That and across from the Full Catastrophe studio desk from one Andy Bell in the studios of Joy 94.9.

Fave movies:

My taste in movies is v-e-r-y diverse. I love a film with a lot of explosions as well as those that bring on the waterworks. Uni study has a way of making you look at stuff you wouldn’t normally think to look at so have also watched some fantastic oldies, westerns and classics too. Top five would be, Gladiator (2000), Metropolis (I love Art Deco), Citizen Kane (watch it more than once to marvel at the brilliance of Welles), Gattaca, and Se7en.

Fave telly:

My TV hasn’t been connected to the aerial since August 2009. Nothing to see here… move on. I will, however, watch TV shows off DVD if they’re good.

Fave radio:

Joy 94.9 (of course)

Highlands 100.7 FM (my local community station)

3BO FM (the unfortunate moniker of Bendigo’s ‘big’ FM station)

774 ABC Melbourne

Fave books:

Until I finish my degree, my favourite book is “the prescribed textbook.”

Fave shows:

Not having been to many shows (at all), my other half and I have seen Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, French and Saunders, and Wicked. That’s it. But we enjoyed them all.

Fave place:

With my wonderful other half, anywhere would be fine by me.

Fave geographical places:

My hometown of Kyneton and the surrounding area. Grampians, Wilsons Prom both good for camping. Sydney’s great to visit but I couldn’t live there. Scotland was a highlight of my mid-teens.

Places still to be tasted:

Apart from Scotland when I was a wee laddie, I’ve not been abroad so there’s a few places to pick from. I’d also love to waste a week (or more) on a tropical isle with poolside drink service and a punkawalla.

Usual attire:

Weekdays, casual office-appropriate attire (jeans). Weekend, casual bumpkin-appropriate attire (jeans but with added lumberjackness). Beanie mandatory on winter mornings at home.

Current appropriated motto or lifestyle support statement:

“Never eat more than you can lift” (Miss Piggy courtesy of a magnet on my mum’s fridge).

Hikaru Freeman

“So here I am, Full Catastrophe Blog-ettes, asking you to…”

Hikaru Freeman

Paraphrasing lines from a movie is always a good warm up. So, who is this person with the odd first name which sounds like it came from a spam email?

I was born in the state of Wisconsin on a cold wintry February, which means here in Australia, my birthday tends to be on one of the hottest days of the year. This is not a plus in my book, as I do love winter.

Still, the lack of winter has been a decent sacrifice for many other pluses living here in the antipodes, the biggest plus of all meeting Andrew Bell and becoming part of The Full Catastrophe.

I may have leapt onto your radar as being part of the Eurovision presentation on JOY, which was a major and ongoing project over at JOYEurovision.com.

Fortunately, I haven’t overstayed my welcome and was asked to become a full member of TFC. It’s something that I’ve happily joined in with gusto.

(Yep I’m the one behind the new TFC promos such as this:)

While our fearless leader is away, TFC is in safe hands with me, although expect Catastrophe to still reign supreme.

Should you also want to hear me in my daytime serious persona, I’m a regular newsreader on JOY94.9 on Wednesday & Friday mornings from 7-9am.

And if any of my musings grab you, you can find more at my blog: hikarublue which has been in operation in some form or another since 2005.

Related articles

TFC 150

The random thoughts & jottings of the godfather of TFC, Andy Bell. 

He meant well.

It was a chilly-ish night in March 2008 (but neither dark nor stormy) when I wandered through South Melbourne and up the wobbly stairs at the old Joy studios to “do” the first TFC – The Full Catastrophe.

As for the first track EVER played….

“The night is young and full of possibilities Well come on and let yourself be free”

And these were my first words:

Friends, Melburnians, Country men & women: lend me your ears  and a bit of your brains for the next two hours or so.

It’s time for music you love; music you’ve never heard but will love; music that must and can be loved despite all evidence to the contrary.

So fasten your seatbelts, put your tray tables in the upright position and ensure that all electronic devices remain switched ON and at full blast.

Brothers and sisters, fellow sinners: welcome to “The Full Catastrophe”. The rest is history.”

And on Saturday April 2nd 2011 TFC arrived at the landmark of 150 programs.  In addition, there have been a couple of “Catastrophic Christmases”.

“The Full Catastrophe” is a show where, hopefully, surprise is a key ingredient.

When the music is deliberately varied, you never quite know what might come next.  A moving target is harder to hit.

But variety is a two-edged sword.  The “mix”, the “flow”, the “x factor”.

Sometimes a playlist on paper will look pretty good, but to air it doesn’t quite get there.

And the opposite can be true.

So what is the “x” factor” ?

Haven’t a clue, to be honest.

I fancy it varies from minute to minute.  Listener response or lack thereof.  Presenter energy levels.  The weather.  The state of the studio.  The sudden recognition of some musical or lyrical magic.

Perhaps the latter is the most likely answer.  Aside from the discovery of something new and exhilarating, there is nothing finer than to hear a song or tune for the 183rd time and suddenly something fresh and exciting emerges.  Bliss.

That’s it.

I think I’ve got it !

The “x factor” is the presence of bliss.

In case anyone WAS wondering, TFC is definitely NOT a musical Seinfeld.  There is hugging and there is, hopefully, learning.  It’s up to all concerned to hug as much and learn as much as they wish !

Over years there have been various attempts to sum up what the heck is going on. Here are some of the choicest:

“The global musical sock drawer”

“Wide eyed and bushy tailed in the musical toy shop … keep your elbows in”

“A musical smorgasbord with an open bar”

“A musical currant cake”

“The program that puts the “eh?” into entertainment”

Or, to put it another way, this:

“It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there”

To play or not to play. That is the issue.

Where do the tracks come from ?

That’s simple … and not so simple.  No surprises there!

Simple in that ALL the tracks I play on TFC are known to me.  I have heard them and know something about them OR, often a clincher, I find out something about them after hearing them.  Hence Ting Tings or Chris Tanner’s Virus or Gotz Alsmann.

It’s not so simple when the tracks don’t soar or make the senses tingle, but they still demand to be heard, if only for a couple of bars or a telling lyrical phrase.

And  – Nota Bena – not every track makes me smile or bliss out.  Some make me grimace, but they also make me want to play them because of something within them or about them.

Musical perversity perhaps, but a bit of musical friction never did anyone any harm!

There is one rule.  “Is it worth it?”.  Whether it was recorded last week or on January 13th 1937, the question is the same.  Quality, now there’s a difficult term, is the yardstick.  And, mixing metaphors faster than I change my underwear, that yardstick is a moveable feast!

What follows what and what comes next?

When a show can include Yo-Yo Ma playing classical cello, Lady Gaga, Doris Day and the North Saarbrucken Radio Big Band in the same half hour, talk of  a “mix” may be considered a furphy.

It’s an “anti-mix” that’s a “mix”.  Stay with me.  Strange juxtaposition can take you places you least expect.  Sometimes it’s not where you want to be ! However, when the unexpected does happen you just take in the view and pause for a moment.

The “anti-mix” is a bit of an issue  for me.  I was lucky enough to get to hear all kinds of music from an early age.  In the early sixties, when I was barely a toddler, I was playing the big band stuff of the 1940s as well as rock and roll, the Beatles and classical stuff.

From then on, I have never understood why people shy away from new experiences.  There’s no harm in “giving it a go” and you might just stumble into something that changes you musical life.  It’s not even that risky.

If something is “good” or “worthwhile”, it has that quality because of what it “is”.  It is nothing to do, in my opinion, with when it was done or whether the clip is in black and white or if the track has crackles on it.

And the beauty of taking a chance, is that the track will be over in a couple of minutes.  The original investment isn’t that much, but the compound musical interest can be extremely attractive.

Tish and tosh.  Words can be useless in trying to explain things sometimes, so …

Is that a better explanation ?!!


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