Monday, April 23, 2007

Radar - The story

As an adjunct to The Whitey Stuff's coverage of the recent surge of interest surrounding the doyen of 70's Hobart Radio, Tim J "Radar" Franklin, herewith the text of the story from tome of note, The Mercury:

There's treasures in the Batcave

HE is a well-known identity in Tasmania, his beaming, bespectacled face a regular sight on television advertisements and at charity functions.
But if the South Australian native hadn't made a miraculous escape from the jaws of a savage white pointer shark in his teens, he might never have found his way to Tasmania.
The then 15-year-old was surfing at Southport in South Australia in 1971 when the predator sank its razor-sharp teeth into his thigh.
A friend dragged the bleeding youth ashore and applied a tourniquet to his leg before he was rushed to hospital.
Franklin says he is grateful he lived to tell the tale, but still bears the scars of the ordeal, which resulted in 262 stitches and the loss of one-third of the muscle in his leg.
The shark attack made front page news, and the framed clipping is one of many items on display at his inner-city Hobart home and office which have proved to be great talking points for visitors and clients.
As well as newspaper clippings and charity certificates -- from organisations including Ronald McDonald House and Camp Quality -- the walls boast countless caricatures and posters and other mostly music-based memorabilia.
Shelves and coffee tables brim with candles, trophies and trinkets collected during the DJ's many years of travel around the world, where he has worked in New York nightclub Studio 54 and interviewed some of the world's best known entertainers including Elton John, Meatloaf and Michael Jackson.
He even has ornamental guitars which were a gift from Jon Bon Jovi.
But while his tastes are eclectic -- a trait he says he inherited from his mother -- Franklin is adamant that none of his bits and pieces are junk, and he says he has a very good reason for collecting it all.
``It's for when I get Alzheimer's,'' he says. ``I'll be able to look at everything and then say, `Did I really do that?'.''
Everywhere you look in his home you are confronted with teddy bears sporting different outfits and poses -- evidence of Franklin's love of handmade character bears.
``People just make them for me and my collection keeps growing,'' he explains of his 140-strong collection. ``I reckon Tasmanian arts and crafts people are the best in the country.''
Franklin also has a collection of panama hats, and over 105 watches and more than 40 pairs of glasses.
But his main love in life -- besides his black labradoodle appropriately named Radar Junior -- is DVDs.
Thousands of discs fill floor-to-ceiling shelving in the lounge room -- with hundreds more VHS videos filling another set of shelves -- and Franklin says the lounge room is his favourite place in the house.
He has nicknamed it The Batcave -- all of the rooms in his home have names -- and with the exposed brick walls, stained glass detailing and an assortment of memorabilia, he has created a haven for relaxation and reminiscence.
Franklin says he likes nothing better than relaxing in his reclining armchair -- remote control firmly in hand -- enjoying his favourite music and movies.
He buys around 10 new DVDs a week, and counts Ray and Platoon as his all time favourite films.
The Batcave is also home to a cream couch sporting an animal print throw rug and a timber coffee table which is just one of Franklin's many furniture pieces and sculptures made from Tasmanian timbers.
There is also a rarely used pinball machine in one corner, a conga drum which the keen drummer sometimes has a belt on and a surfboard up against a wall, although Franklin says he has never been back in the sea since his brush with death.
A white kitchen with stainless steel appliances opening up into a leafy courtyard completes the downstairs area, and the amateur cook admits his skills extend only to stir fry. Or toast.
Upstairs is a bedroom and a recording studio, again dotted with mementos, and Franklin says he is quickly running out of space to store all of his bits and pieces.
But having lived in the cottage for almost two decades -- after being drawn to Hobart to work for radio station 7HT in 1977 and then setting up his advertising and events business Radar Promotions -- he says he would be reluctant to leave.
``This home is my passion because there's stuff in here from every corner of the earth,'' he explains. ``It's like a sanctuary in every room.''
And he can thank in part the shark that spared him his life all those years ago.
``If I hadn't survived the shark attack I would never have made it to Tasmania,'' he says.
``And that would have been a real shame.''

For pictures of Radar and Radar Jr, as well as Laurel & Hardy, check Whitey's page.

Here's some info on another larger-than-life former Radio DJ, Jimmy Saville.

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