How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain; Part 83.


A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I had a boss who I thought was going to fire me on first sight. He turned out to be the best boss I’ve ever had.

In February 1997, I moved back to Britain after living in Australia and New Zealand for fourteen years. While Julie and I were on the plane on our way over, the Program Director I was about to work for at 2CRFM in Bournemouth quit. It’s usually very bad when the person who hires you leaves, because the new person has no commitment to you at all, they weren’t even in on the decision to employ you in the first place.

The new boss was Tom Hardy and I think I speak for everyone that I worked with on the Breakfast Show at 2CR at the time when I say, we LOVED him. I think it’s because he was a bit of a rebel like we all were. To us, he was a wise old sage who’d seen and done it all, taken on authority and won. He’d worked on the air on the pirate ship Radio Caroline and on land based pirate radio stations in Ireland. Tom Hardy wasn’t even his real name, it was an on-air name he’d used as a pirate in case he was caught and it had stuck (I found out his real name is Brian Johnson many years later at his wedding).

Tom not only totally understood commercial radio but he understood people. I remember being called into his office one day with my side-kick, Richie Firth and being told by Tom that sales weren’t at all happy with something we’d done on the air. He told us that he thought the bit was very funny. Then he told us to get out of his office, walk out into the open-plan sales office and act as if we’d just been properly told off.

Presenting the 1997/1998 Breakfast shows on 2CR with Richie Firth, Martyn Lee and others including a tall Canadian we picked on called The Eight Foot Canuck and Sweet Caroline The Exotic Fan Dancer was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on the radio and not just because we had a bar in the studio, catering and a live audience every Friday!

We broke all of the rules and Tom ran interference. He kept a lot of what we were up to away from the owners. It worked because we consistently had the number one rated show in all demographics in the area.

We saw ourselves as young Jedi knights learning from an old master. Between us we referred to Tom as “Obi Tom Kenobi”.

Craic on!

You can listen to what it sounded like back then, here;


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