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.
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
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.”
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