Ra­dio’s ‘naughty’ DJ bows out

TOY STORY: Jeremy Mans­field is one of the voices in the new Pixar an­i­mated film, on cir­cuit now, but he’s leav­ing SA ra­dio.

Weekend Witness - - News - MARIDA FITZ­PATRICK

HIS voice is on the big screen now for the an­i­mated film Toy Story, where it is used for the char­ac­ter of Lifer, a chat­ter tele­phone who has spent his life in the toy box at a chil­dren’s nurs­ery school, but from next month Jeremy Mans­field’s ra­dio greet­ing “Good morn­ing, bun­nies!” will go off air.

Mans­field, of The Rude Awakening fame, has de­cided to hang the mike

He is sad about that, nat­u­rally, but also very re­lieved to be leav­ing The Rude Awakening (RAW) on 94.7 Highveld Stereo.

“Thir­teen years is a long time. Peo­ple don’t ap­pre­ci­ate the pres­sure un­der which one works. They think you rock up there at 6 a.m. and push off again at 9 a.m.

“But on a good day I get up at 4.30 and get back home at 2.30 in the af­ter­noon.”

And ev­ery sin­gle day he has to be funny, witty and cheer­ful.

“You’re un­der enor­mous­pres­sure from lis­ten­ers, the ad­ver­tis­ers, the share­hold­ers ...”

Even when life gives him a rude awakening, such as when he heard last year that he had can­cer, he has to be the usual old Jeremy on the air — the one who gives peo­ple their en­ergy shot, their dose of laugh­ter, for the day.

“You can­not imag­ine how dif­fi­cult it is to go through a week of chemo­ther­apy and get up the next morn­ing hav­ing to be chirpy en vibey and amus­ing. It was in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult,” he says.

But his ill­ness is not the rea­son for leav­ing RAW. On the con­trary, it was dur­ing the chemo­ther­apy that he just had to “keep my fo­cus”.

But now the can­cer is in re­mis­sion and he sim­ply de­cided: it’s time.

“And you know, one has to know when that time has ar­rived.

“I don’t know quite how to ex­plain it, but I just know,” he says with a wink, “that time is now.”

His pop­u­lar pro­gramme wasn’t called The Rude Awakening for noth­ing.

When he was in his el­e­ment, Jeremy and com­pany could be quite rough and rude.

At one stage, Mans­field says, more than half of the com­plaints re­ceived by the Broad­cast­ing Com­plaints Com­mis­sion came from his break­fast show.

The worst trou­ble he was ever in (he says as he sits back, folds his arms and smiles) was when they did a story about singer Carike Keuzenkamp and “a black man’s *****”.

It was in the early 2000s and they cre­ated a make-be­lieve “TV pro­gramme” in which Carike sup­pos­edly par­tic­i­pated and had to guess what the sub­ject un­der dis­cus­sion was.

Of course she didn’t re­ally take part, and the im­pos­si­bly naughty RAW team mim­icked her — “then she sued us,” adds Mans­field with a wry smile.

But over the course of the 13 years Jeremy’s rough edges be­came in­creas­ingly softer and nowa­days he is bet­ter known for how eas­ily he weeps on air. The big teddy bear of ra­dio. It was­espe­cially dur­ing the Christ­mas wish-list time, when the RAW team made peo­ple’s dreams come true over the fes­tive sea­son each year, that Mans­field could be heard sob­bing and snif­fling openly over the ra­dio.

“Oh yes, I’ve shed many tears on the air,” he says. “Hun­dreds.” “I don’t have many left.” “I be­lieve we cul­ti­vated a mind­set of car­ing in peo­ple. And if I want to leave any­thing as a legacy, it would be that.”

Last year the shoe was on the oth- er foot: the lis­ten­ers wept about Jeremy; they shed tears over his strug­gles.

He still re­calls the day he was sit­ting in the on­col­o­gist’s con­sult­ing room and he said to him, “Jeremy, you have leukaemia.”

“It hits you hard.” Hein­ter­locks his fin­gers on the ta­ble and shakes his head.

“Those were prob­a­bly the worst six months of my life. I knew I had to keep on work­ing, be­cause I had to fo­cus, but it was in­de­scrib­ably dif­fi­cult.”

The only way he could get through it was with the help of his wife, Jac­qui.

“The third day of the fifth treat­ment I was in the Don­ald Gor­don Clinic. I was on a drip and at one stage I just burst into tears and asked Jac­qui to re­move this thing [the drip].”

He starts weep­ing again. “It was ter­ri­ble.”

Then laughs away heavy moment and wipes away the

he

the tears. “See what you’re do­ing to me,” he says crossly.

The can­cer is cur­rently in re­mis­sion.

“Yes, it lingers in the back of your mind, but I go for a check-up ev­ery three months and if they find some­thing they can whack it quickly.”

Mans­field is 47 now, too young to die, still too many plans and dreams to ful­fill.

He wants to go salmon fish­ing in Rus­sia, mo­tor­cy­cling in Mon­go­lia, ex­plor­ing the cold in Antarc­tica.

“Good­ness, there are still so many things I want to do.” He smiles. “And now I have the time.”

More chil­dren are not a part of his plan. “No, no ways,” he laughs.

“My daugh­ter has just turned 18, af­ter all.” All sorts of ex­cit­ing things await him: his voice can be heard in Pixar’s an­i­ma­tion film Toy Story 3, there is talk of TV pro­grammes, over­seas con­sul­ta­tive work, a new cook­ery book … There is life af­ter 24 years in ra­dio, af­ter six months’ chemo, af­ter 13 years of ex­pla­na­tions to the com­plaints com­mis­sion.

He doesn’t know whether the medium will ever see him again.

“I re­ally am not sure.”

But he in­sists that he will be con­tin­u­ing with his work in the me­dia, “which brings an­other form of in­ter­ac­tion.”

He also in­sists that he will al­ways re­main out­spo­ken.

“It’s no longer nec­es­sary for me to be ‘rude’. Ac­tu­ally, I don’t think I ever was.” He smiles mis- chievously.

“Maybe just a lit­tle bit naughty.”

PHOTO: HER­MAN VER­WEY

Jeremy Mans­field who’s voice stars in Toy Story 3 he did the voice record­ing.

The pho­to­graph was taken in the 94.7 stu­dio where

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