How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain – Part 14.


There’s a saying in Australia, “If you want to get on in life, you have to, bite off more than you can chew, then chew like buggery”. During the six months I spent on the broadcasting course at The Australian Film Television and Radio School, twice I was sent out to live and work on regional radio stations. The first one was 2QN in Deniliquin. The town, known locally as “Deni”, is in the Riverina region of New South Wales close to the border with Victoria. All of the twelve students on the AFTRS broadcasting course were sent out to different radio stations. I’d been sending tapes and getting feedback from Tony James, the Program Director at 2QN for a little while, so I asked if I could go there.

I got on a Greyhound bus in Sydney one Sunday afternoon, waved goodbye to Julie and after a change of buses in Canberra arrived the next morning, 725 miles away in Deniliquin. The population of the town was around 7,000 but when I got there, they were working on that. There was a huge billboard on the main road that showed silhouettes of a family of rabbits. The slogan above said “Do it in Deni”.

Tony James met me from the bus. He shook my hand and said, “Welcome to Deniliquin”. Then he said, “Did you get much sleep on the bus?” I said, “Yes”, even though I’d been awake for the entire fourteen hours I’d been on the road. “Good” he said, “You’re on the air from 2pm to 7pm”. Wow, I’d never actually done an airshift on a commercial radio station before. All of my experience was in community radio. This was really exciting!

It turned out that I was staying with Tony and his wife Rhonda at their house. I dropped off my bags, had breakfast then got a ride to the radio station with Tony.

I spent most of the day getting to know everyone, writing some commercials, practicing local place names, dubbing audio and finding my way around the radio station. My first shock was that 2QN had an outside toilet. I thought this was unusual in 1993 but as it turned out the next commercial radio station I worked on had an outside dunny as well (more on that in another Craic).

2pm came and with it, my big chance to impress a potential employer. If I messed it up, there would be nowhere to hide. I’d be having dinner with the James’s later that night.

The airshift was, and still is, the worst I’ve ever done. To say it didn’t go well is like saying the Titanic had a leak. One of the many things that went wrong before 3pm has given Tony James a radio disaster story that he never gets tired of telling. I’ll tell you my side of it in Part 15. All I’ll say for now is that thanks to a combination of sleep deprivation, nerves and a complete lack of experience, it soon became apparent that I had bitten off way more than I could chew and was well and truly buggered.

Craic On!

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One Response to “How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain – Part 14.”

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