Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Fans relive DJ's funniest pranks

Former DJ Kevin Black has been fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues.   Photo / Steven McNicholl
Former DJ Kevin Black has been fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues. Photo / Steven McNicholl

The humour of trail-blazing broadcaster Kevin Black is again filling New Zealand's airwaves in tribute after his sudden death.

Radio Hauraki, where "Blackie" reigned supreme as the country's top radio DJ, has been playing some of his most-loved prank calls since the 69-year-old died after a suspected heart attack on Monday night.

Listeners called in throughout yesterday to recall their favourite Blackie parody calls, which set the standard for radio humour.

Black went on to work at Solid Gold and The Sound. MediaWorks announced yesterday that a special tribute to Black would be broadcast on The Sound from 7pm this Friday.

His friends and former colleagues yesterday said that recalling his best work today showed how influential he had been.

Former Radio Hauraki colleague and friend John Hawkesby said, simply put, Black understood humour.

"The thing he understood was he knew when the joke or the prank had gone as far as it could.

"He was generous with his listeners in that very often he never got to the punchline. But he strung you along so you knew what the punchline was."

Hawkesby said Black was extremely well read, knowledgeable "about everything", and extremely quick-witted.

But his sensitivity and generosity of spirit meant that despite being a pioneer of the prank call, his humour was never cruel, banal or silly.

"He analysed radio and understood it ... and was one of the first to figure out that breakfast radio needed to make people laugh," Hawkesby said.

Phil Gifford, who also worked with Black at Hauraki, said his old friend was the same on and off the airwaves.

"How I will remember him, is somebody that there was almost a perpetual party going on.

"He managed to transfer that sort of feeling on to radio. And that's much harder than it seems. He managed to convey that sense of joy of life."

Blackie's greatest hits

* Called the Ministry of Mines to report that after finding readings for uranium in his backyard, he and his friend dug a 100ft hole, and thought they had better inform the authorities. A concerned and overwhelmed official, muttering "my God", asks him if he has any professional qualifications to do such a thing. "No. I have an uncle who was a coalminer down in Westport," Black deadpanned.

*Told a woman in Papatoetoe that her garage remote was suspected of interfering with planes flying over her home. The woman went outside and confirmed to Black that the remote was closing and opening the garage. "Now point it at the plane above you," he instructed. "Oh, no, I don't want to do that," she insisted.

*Called a rental car company and asked for some modifications to be carried out before picking up his car. "I don't want any doors, could you take them off?" he asked. "Could you also take out all the seats except the driver's, and the bonnet, too?" Finally, the attendant asked what he would do with the car. Black explained he would race it in the stock cars on Saturday, and wanted it as light as possible.

- NZ Herald

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