How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 25.

08Jan14

When I finally got my first professional broadcasting job, things started out OK but by my third week on the air, I was convinced that I was going to get fired every single day I worked there.

In August 1993, “Hits and Memories 2PK” in Parkes New South Wales were looking for a new Breakfast Show host. Their previous host had moved on to a bigger station and the Program Director was filling in until they found a replacement. They approached the Australian Film Television and Radio School, who recommended me for the gig. 2PK were impressed with the demo tape I’d edited together from the night-time shifts I’d done at 6KG Kalgoorlie and after an interview, I got the job.

It was a real leap of faith for the management at 2PK, my commercial radio experience could have been measured in days rather than years and I was a Pom and sounded that way. I was beyond excited, six months earlier, the only way I would have been invited into a commercial radio station would have been to fix the air-conditioning. And my first professional gig on commercial radio was going to be the Breakfast Show? I thought I’d have to wait years to be given a shot at the most high profile program.

2PK covered the Central West region of New South Wales. The total service area had a population of 33,000 people. Parkes was the biggest town in the area with a population of just over nine thousand. We found a one bedroom flat at the end of the main street, Clarinda Street. The radio station was at the other end of the street. We booked a movers to transport what few possessions we had and hired a car because now that I’d given up the air-conditioning game, I didn’t have a van.

Parkes is a five hour drive from Sydney and living there was a very different experience to living in Australia’s biggest city. We noticed that as soon as we got there. We off-hired the car at the local lawn mower shop. In Parkes the lawnmower shop is also the local Hertz car rental. There must have been an influx of people moving to Parkes at the time because when I handed the keys over to the proprietor, he looked at the only other two Hertz cars he had parked at the back of the shop, scratched his head and said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of these bloody cars!” It felt like we were in that film “Doc Hollywood”.

They put me on the afternoon show 2pm to 7pm and told me as soon as they thought I was ready, they’d switch me to Breakfast. Things went well in the afternoon and after two weeks I was told to set my alarm for 4:30am.

The first thing you had to do when you did the Breakfast Show at 2PK was check the fax machine to see who’d died. The local funeral directors paid for announcements to be made to let people know where they could go to pay their respects. At 7:45am you played some orchestral string music that sounded like Mantovani on downers and read from the scripted fax live on the air while the music played underneath.

The first morning I attempted this, the deceased had an unpronounceable name. I’m not sure if it was Greek, Slovak or Aboriginal but there was no way I could get it out. After a couple of attempts, I took a run at it but still didn’t get anywhere near. I started sweating and felt really bad for the surviving relatives. I didn’t know how this person had died but I knew that the family and friends heard their loved one’s name being murdered by some idiot with a funny accent and the entire shambles was set to music.

I didn’t get to do another breakfast show on 2PK. I was demoted back to afternoons the next day. The Program Director went back to filling in on the Breakfast Show. I knew he hated having to get up that early and that 2PK still needed a breakfast presenter. Where did that leave me?

You can listen to some of the stuff I did at 2PK here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw3BYk04wCs

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