How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 61.



In 1995, the thing that frightened me the most when I started doing nights on the air at 2GO was ratings. At my first two radio jobs, 2PK and 5SE, they only did ratings surveys every few years and I hadn’t been at either station during a ratings sweep. I THOUGHT I was pretty good and usually got a good response from some very loyal listeners but what if I only had a cult following? In commercial radio your appeal has to be wide not deep.

As well as being the first time I’d be rated, it was also my first time on an FM station. That might not sound like a big deal, but I found FM very different to AM. At first, I couldn’t believe how clear my voice sounded in the headphones.You could hear everything, breathing, swallowing, even thinking! On FM, you can’t hide behind any kind of effected delivery, you have to be ‘real’. I’m pretty sure that FM is the reason that all of those “larger than life” DJs from the 60s and 70s died out. Their ‘acts’ just didn’t translate to FM radio.

The other thing that doesn’t work on FM is dipping music beds while you talk. Actually on FM, you don’t really need music beds at all but you sometimes have weather or travel beds. On AM you have to dip the bed to cut through but if you do that on FM, it just sounds terrible. You end up sounding like a cheesy ‘Dee Jay’ at a wedding. Luckily the 2GO Program Director, Graeme Stone picked this up after my first couple of shows and spent time with me in the studio teaching me the right way to do it using the radio station’s processing to do the work. Every time I hear radio DJs in Britain dipping a bed or even worse, dipping a song intro to talk over it (which listeners hate by the way) I always wish they could spend half an hour with Graeme Stone.

The day of the rating results finally arrived. At 2GO, they took them very seriously. A bonus of $1000 per full percentage you went up on the last survey was paid to each presenter. At the time the Central Coast was the most competitive radio market in Australia. As well as our local competitors, all of the Sydney Stations got in and so did all of the Newcastle stations. A large percentage of our potential audience commuted to both cities daily. There were more than twenty commercial radio stations listed in our ratings book. 2GO had been number one at night with a 19% share before I arrived, a staggering figure especially considering the competition. Fortunately, the ratings gods smiled on me. In my first survey at 2GO, I had a 24.3% share.

I’d got the hang of FM and had survived my first ratings test. My next challenge was going to be how to do a radio show without playing any CDs, vinyl or cartridges. 2GO was about to get a computer play-out system called Wizzard for Windows. As it turned out, I got this brand new technology to do a few things I couldn’t do the old school way and even managed to fool the boss with it. More on that in another Craic.

Craic on!

You can hear what I sounded like in 1995 on 2GO here;

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