How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain Part 72.


I loved living in Australia and never thought I’d ever move back to Britain. That all changed after a phone call in the early hours one morning.

In 1996, I was presenting the night-time show on 2GO on the New South Wales Central Coast. I’d been working on the air in commercial radio in Australia for three years. I found out that an old mate of mine from my time at 5SE in South Australia was now working on the air in the UK. Damien Carbon was doing nights at Ram FM in Derby.

I tracked him down and called him one night after my show just to catch up. He told me that Ram was owned by a big radio group in Britain called GWR. I was surprised when he told me that a lot of the senior management there were Australians. They also used Australian consultants. I couldn’t understand why that would be but he went on to explain that although Australia has had commercial radio since the 1930s, it was illegal in Britain until 1973. British radio was heavily regulated and dominated by the BBC, so commercial radio there was a long way behind Australia.

At the time in Australia, commercial radio was consolidating and networking shows on multiple stations, so there were fewer and fewer job opportunities. In Britain the opposite was happening, brand new commercial radio stations were going on the air every month.

Damien said to me, “You understand commercial radio and formatics better than most jocks here because tight formats are all you’ve known. Some of the presenters here don’t even know that you have to say the name of the radio station every time you open the mike”. Then he said something that really got my attention, “Before Sam Phillips from Sun Records discovered Elvis, he said, ‘If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.’ Over here they must be wishing they could find an Australian jock that sounds English, that’s YOU!”

I know Damien was exaggerating for effect (he’s a radio presenter after all) but maybe there was something in what he had to say.

Craic on!

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