Amazing person: Stein Halvorsen

We hosted the radio show “Midnight Magic” together for 3,5 years back in the late eighties. We made radio history with “Role-Playing” on the air and managed to become the second most popular local radio show in Norway (after Coca-Cola Top 30). It was a blast. Check out a website with many recorded episodes: Midnight Magic

In the beginning we spent a whole Sunday creating the program. There had to be a background story, like “You are a valiant knight called upon by the King to rescue the fair Princess from the fire-breathing dragon. The monster will toast her and have her for evening snack in 10 minutes. After picking two items out of a choice of 5 (a sword, a shield, a horse, a pouch of gold pieces and a rope with a grappling hook), you head for the hill with the dragon cave.

Four different people would get a chance to pit their wit against different sets of obstacles on the way to the dragon – “Tidemann” the troll under the bridge, elves in the forest, thieving leprechauns, an old witch, a hostage situation where two soldiers have kidnapped another beautiful woman, etc. Each player would be on the air trying to talk/fight/outwit their obstacles and rescue the princess in the dragon cave before she was turned into an over-sized French fry.

Stein or I would take turns as the narrator or “Games Master”, while the other would play the various encpunters. Stein was excellent as “Tidemann”, I was great as the goblin “Ole”.

With Steins total chill and ItWillBeOK-attitude, it went from much planning and hoopla-hoo to much better improvisation and better experience for the thousands of listeners. Stein infused and inspired in me a confidence in improvisation, in always being able to land on my feet in a public situation. Midnight Magic is the only show in Norwegian radio history that had a black trading market of recorded cassettes – with the usual street price of USD 70 per tape. Every show was a crazy storm of listeners – from ages 13 to 55 – that wanted to get on the air and play a crazy adventure. The adventures ranged from Fantasy and Sci-fi to 1500’s pirate settings, James Bond and cartoon’ish adventures. Anything that we could come up with.

Toward the end, we spent less than 10 minutes putting the background story together – usually while the audience listened to a couple of Eurobeat songs. We had perhaps Norway’s most technically advanced show at the time – with two turn-tables, CD players, three reel-to-reels, one cart-machine, an Amiga effects machine and often the “double-trouble” where two players tagged in the adventure. All this mixed at a fast pace. There were only two or three technicians that managed to handle the running of the show. While Stein was as relaxed as always and inspiring me to be the same in the cozy studio.

We went on inter-rail together in the summers of ’89 and ’90. Great fun all through Europe. We traveled neatly dressed and with suitcases. Without looking like backpackers, we received much better service wherever we went – Istanbul, Paris, Zürich, Milan, Venice, Budapest, Ibiza, Madrid… I miss the times 🙂

Maybe, just maybe, in the future there may be a reunion and a come-back for Midnight Magic.

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