The Legend of Toby of Newport
One of the joys of talkback radio is that you never know what the next caller will bring to the program. None of us had any idea what would happen the night I answered a call from a caller named "Toby of Newport". This is the full and complete story as best as I can recall it. The only person who can add more to the story is Toby himself, yet he still stubbornly retains his anonymity to this day.
As a bit of background, since landing the job of producing Bruce Mansfield and Philip Brady's Nightline program in 1995 I learned very quickly that the best formula to taking calls was NEVER to ask them what they wanted to talk about. That way the audience would hear a genuine reaction from the host. So all I ever asked from the caller was their name and suburb.
It feels like it was 1997, but the evidence points to this event taking place in around 2004.
I answered the phone in the studio...
Me: 3AW, calling to talk to the boys?
Me: What's your name?
Me: Where are you calling from?
Me: No worries, hang on mate, won't be too long
That's pretty much the conversation I had with everyone who called in.
But when Toby got to air, this happened. Click below to hear the call.
Now I hasten to add, the call never made it to air. 3AW operates on a ten second delay which means what happens in the studio gets heard 10 seconds later by you at home.
When Toby used his colourful word Bruce, Phil and I ALL hit our dump buttons.
This means that we suddenly go "live" and the last 10 seconds that we have heard, but you at home have not, just vanishes.
The reaction from Bruce and Phil is priceless. It's really what makes that moment so much more special. Of course the callers on hold waiting to go to air are hearing the live program so Carmen and Queenie DID hear the offensive language.
So after the show I lifted the unedited audio and shared it via email with a few other 3AW staff. They shared it with other friends and it spread like wildfire. It was eventually written up in the Herald Sun's gossip columns and was shared (uncensored) on youtube and has been heard over 200,000 times.
The call became so legendary that it often popped up on Melbourne's Triple M Hot Breakfast show. Eddie McGuire and Rosemary Walton loved nothing more than finding an excuse to play it. In fact in February 2017 Eddie launched a search to try to find Toby.
Sadly, Toby doesn't seem to want to be found. This has lead to many suggesting that Toby may well have been another radio or TV personality who can't reveal himself for reasons unknown to us.
Note: At the time of writing this article, Queenie, who was mentioned by Bruce and Phil in the wake of Toby's call had just celebrated her 100th birthday. Rosemary Walton attended and Eddie made a special video appearance to congratulate Queenie in which he mentioned Toby's call.
The celebration of Toby's call doesn't stop there though. Currently available through the redbubble website, you can purchase tee shirts with "Toby's Anchovies - Newport's Finest.
I wish I'd thought of it first!
So up until 2019 we thought that was it. Toby had called once only, Eddie had searched for him, and he was never to be heard of again. Until 26 September, 2019.
3AW's Nightline program had been axed. Nightline had started in 1970 with Don Taylor, Bruce and Phil had taken the reins in 1991, and I joined Philip as host when Bruce sadly passed away. But the show had been axed by owners Macquarie Media in favour of networking John Stanley's program from 2GB in Sydney.
So Philip and I were on air hosting our last ever "Nightline". Bron Robinson had come in to answer the phones for the program and I saw the name "Toby - Newport" appear on the screen. Then it disappeared.
A little while later it happened again.
This wasn't unusual, many people had called over the years claiming to be Toby of Newport.
Bron knew it and just brushed them aside.
Then I received this untraceable email.
And sure enough, attached was a photograph of the laminated Herald Sun article
So after fifteen years in hiding the real Toby of Newport was on hold. I let Bron know, double checked that we were in delay, and she put him on the screen.
We were ready to talk to Toby again.
Click below to hear his second call.
Toby, wherever and whoever you are. Congratulations on becoming 3AW's most talked about openline caller. But in the words of Bruce "You're old enough now to stop that filth. That's really scraping the bottom of the barrell".
Note: Cover pic for the article "borrowed" from TES Education.