That time 96FM’s major prizes, two Ford Lasers, were stolen.
“Oh God, the Lasers.”
This was all 96FM Managing Director Gary Roberts could say when reminded of one of the most bizarre situations in the station’s prizing history.
For the Bicentennial year, 96FM had huge plans in place for the Skyshow which included a laser show, and Roberts had approached Centre Ford, “a very good client”, for not one, but two, Ford Lasers to give away.
But not just any two Lasers, two custom Lasers.
“He looked at me like I was a lunatic, as usual,” Gary recalled.
“We had two specific Lasers which was part of what was on offer from Ford, except there weren’t a lot of them but we could have both of them to give away.
“So, we had the twin Lasers and we were on air talking about how you could win a Laser, that sort of stuff.”
Everything was going well.
Then the phone rang.
“I got a phone call early on a Saturday morning saying ‘Gary, um, we need to meet you at Centre Ford’,” he said.
Gary asked why.
A couple of blokes had broken into Centre Ford and had taken off with the Lasers.
“The upside was that one of them had just a very small amount of petrol in it, so it didn’t get far,” he said.
“So when we saw that one it didn’t look so bad, had a few scratches but it wasn’t going to take much to clean it up.”
But the second one was a different story.
“It was found a little further away as it had more petrol in it,” Gary said.
“Except that was the one they used to drive through the gate at the front of the car yard.”
The news was then broken to listeners.
“We had to go to air and tell people exactly what had taken place and the fact that the damage wasn’t actually that bad and that we were going to fix it up and we’d have them back ready to be given away as a prize.”
Gary said that telling people what happened was actually pretty important, not pretending that something hadn’t… when it very much had.
“Then everyone was talking about the two Lasers being stolen and what happened, and it just built the whole thing into a bigger event than what it actually was,” he admitted.
“But no, wasn’t the best phone call I’ve ever had in my life.”
At least now he can see the funny side, albeit more than 30 years later.