The Prison Show

· Wednesday February 15, 2012

Listening to community radio satisfies the same masochistic curiosity that urges you into a garage sale; though you’ll be forced to sift through a lot of shit, you occasionally stumble onto something magic. With this in mind, I usually keep my dial tuned to 93.7FM, home of the always-unpredictable Three D Radio. Though I’ve run into doo-wop presented by a charming fanatical German named Carmen, brain haemorrhaging yodelling, and demos that sound like they were recorded in a mouldy tin can, nothing is quite as mind-bending as the Prison Show, on every Sunday at 6pm.

The Prison Show follows the same format each week: hosts Helen and Baz read out messages both to and from inmates locked away in the various prisons in SA. The presenters bring new levels of endearing amateurism to community radio, providing a running commentary of their various cock-ups, from playing the wrong song to being unable to read the messages sent in.

Though Helen and Baz bring cringe-worthy entertainment, it’s the messages and requests that really make the show something else.

There are shout-outs to cellblock mates, expressions of love unbound by locked doors, chastisements for falling foul of the law (again), incitements to fight the power. In one show I counted kisses to four different girls called Skye. To cap off the experience, the messages all come with song requests: Ice Cube’s ‘Penitentiary’; Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’; NWA with ‘Fuck The Police’. You get the idea.

It’s simultaneously hilarious, depressing, and touching. Though it might be a show for those who’ve fallen foul of society’s rules, if you look through the grime, there’s gold in there.