Location: New South Wales, Australia
Posted November 2010
Keith Graham, my former boss at 2GO got in touch with a bloke in Sydney
who had a lot of radio contacts. "He's like you," he said, which I took
to mean he was gay. No biggie.
I arrived in Sydney and took the elevator to the 19 millionth floor
of some tower at North Sydney. There, at the door of a small bedsitter,
I was greeted by the bloke "who was just like me". The plan was to stay
overnight and then head off to meet some of the radio people he had recommended.
He cooked dinner, plied me with lots of wine and port, and then pulled
out the sofa bed. During the night, he tried to get it on but I pushed
Next morning, he was less than impressed with my unwillingness to cooperate
in bed during the night and treated me rather coldly. I showered and ate
a small breakfast. He handed me a piece of paper on which he had scribbled
a list of Sydney radio stations and their addresses. Anyone could have
written that list from a phone book. So it was a setup.
First on the list was 2KY at Potts Point, a former nightclub. I asked
at reception if I could speak to Ray Hood, the manager. "Can you type?"
"Yes." "Can you write copy?" "Yes." "Our copywriter is going to England
for a 6-week vacation. You can fill in while she's away." A week later,
I returned from Gosford but Ray Hood had forgotten about me. He was an
alcoholic. Fortunately, the bloke in the adjoining office remembered me
and arranged for me to occupy an office. He was the assistant manager,
Alan Ireland. I organized a small furnished flat at Elizabeth Bay in a
huge 19th century mansion overlooking the inner harbor.
Alan and I became quite good friends. On one occasion, he asked me
to write a series of commercials for the Department of Public Transport
about catching buses instead of using private cars. The series won him
an advertising contract with the department
On the very last day of my 6 weeks, the station newsreader stormed down
the hall outside my office, muttering something about quitting. Five minutes
later, Alan Ireland stuck his head in the doorway of my office and asked,
"Can you read news?" "Yes." "Good, you can start Monday."
For a while, I read the breakfast news. That was when I learned to pronounce
Arkansas correctly. Then one day, the drive-time announcer quit, so Alan
Ireland installed me in the chair. I looked at the on-air log and noticed
that the hour between 5 and 6 was sponsored by a land developer but there
were no ads. I phoned downstairs to his office and he said, "Don't worry
about it, Gary. I'm working on it." During the news, he burst into the
studio and handed me a torn press ad from a newspaper. "Just ad lib around
that," he said, and then left. So I did. I ad libbed my little tits off,
and the switchboard lit up with calls from people who wanted to invest
in the parcels of land for sale.
Alan Ireland was so impressed with the response to my ad lib - reading
from a newspaper clipping about the size of a beer coaster and managing
to make it last for an entire hour - that he moved the breakfast announcer
to another shift and installed me. Sheesh, from a six week stint as copywriter
to the star of the show in just a few months! And all because I walked
in off the street one day, unannounced, and applied for a job. Any job.
Yes, I remember George Gibson. He was back in Oz after extensive experience
in Canada and had been hired as a new announcer at 2KY. When he walked
into the studio one morning to introduce himself, I said, "Let's have some
fun." So I sat him down and interviewed him on air for the job, pretending
that he'd walked in off the street like I had. Hehe. So it was me who hired
George! Well, that's what the listeners thought anyway.
By the way, another announcer there, Tony Langshaw, who was totally
outrageous, used to refer to 2KY as "the cream of Sydney radio". No prizes
for guessing why.
then was in the heart of Kings Cross. The old Rex Hotel was across the
road in Macleay St, right next door to the El Alamein Fountain, and my
favorite bar was the Bottoms Up Bar. I called it Studio B, and Alan Ireland
always knew where to find me if he needed me in a hurry - after 10am that
was. It was a gay bar, and one day I invited newsreader Graham Virgo to
have a beer with me. Graham was ultra straight... Mr Deep-Voice-Butch-Hollywood
Looks-Dimpled chin - yadda yadda. "If any of those poofs comes anywhere
near me I'll break his nose." Well they didn't, and he was soon very relaxed.
In fact, he became a regular at the Bottoms Up Bar and loved it. Graham
and I and his girl friend became pretty close mates.
One time, as usual, he came into the on-air studio to read the headlines
on the quarter hour, and I told him I'd be back in a tick... I just had
to take a quick pee. Hehe. So I stayed in the loo listening to the speaker
in there and heard him saying things like, "Gary's taking longer than I
thought but he should be back any second now..." He was sitting at the
side of the broadcast desk so he didn't have access to the turntables or
any of that stuff, and he just had to sit there yabbering away until I
returned. Yes, that was really cruel.
This is how the old pub looks today, converted into apartments. One
time, back in the old days, I was sitting at the Bottoms Up Bar chatting
to a young bloke when he said he had to go and change for work that night,
but that he would be back a bit later to have another beer with me. So
after about an hour, as I waited for his return, a very attractive young
lady sat beside me, ordered a beer, and then started chatting away like
an old friend. Took me ages to realize that "she" was in fact "he"... the
same bloke I'd been talking to before. Hehe. He was a female impersonator
who worked at a local club. The transformation was amazing and I was totally
There are a million stories I could tell about living in Kings Cross
but if I did this page would be about 3 miles long.
The station organized a big concert at the Sydney Opera House, and
guess who they selected to MC the show? But they didn't tell me until the
last minute. Bloody hell.
I was so nervous before I stepped on stage at the Sydney Opera House
concert hall that I didn't have a clue what I was gonna say. Literally.
Then, as I took a few paces toward the front of the stage the spotlight
hit me. I was blinded and couldn't see a damn thing! But as I shaded my
eyes with my hand, I thought of something to say. I asked the spot operator
to move the light slightly away but he didn't. So I said, "Okay, leave
the spot where it is and I'll step out of it." When I did, I scanned the
huge audience and said, "So that's what you look like!" That broke the
ice and I was away, chatting incessantly all night. "Get off the stage!"
"Shuddup, I haven't finished yet."
When I introduced the first act, he came rushing out from the wings,
tripped over an electrical lead, and fell flat on his face. But, like Frank
Sinatra, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and carried on with
Meanwhile, I'd moved from my little flat in Elizabeth Bay to share a
penthouse with a mate, formerly Chris Kearns at 2GO, but now a big star
at 2UW in Sydney known as Christopher John. The flat looked along the length
of Manly Beach, from Queenscliffe, perched on the rocky cliff just above
the saltwater pool and surf club.
Hey! I even got featured in a Sydney newspaper as part of a series
about the city's breakfast announcers!
Well, I might have been a Sydney radio star but I certainly wasn't
getting paid like one! Mind you, it was more than twice what I'd been earning
Ratings? What the hell were they? Alan Ireland called me into his office
one morning after my shift and showed me the results of the latest survey.
Survey? I hadn't experienced any of that kinda stuff in country radio.
There were no ratings in country radio! Not back then, anyway. So there
was only one thing to do... create a bit of free publicity.
Free quote on erections? How interesting. I'll give 'em a ring and
see if they're still there.
Well, that little stunt stirred things up a bit.
Yes, you're quite right... I was very naughty to have caused such unnecessary
anxiety to the listeners. But then I got another bright idea! Being a resident
of Queenscliffe, near Manly, I thought it would be a wonderful thing if
2KY could organize outside broadcasts at the beach.
One of the station announcers? Now who could that be?
Well, Alderman Clarke had a point when he said my remarks were "the
greatest load of rubbish I've heard." Hehe. After all, I WAS a radio DJ,
and rubbish was my stock in trade. However, while other Sydney stations
were paying a fortune for their publicity, we were getting ours for nothing.
Actually, I hated outside broadcasts (OBs). People stare at you. This
one was at the Sydney Truck Show. How butch. But all good things come to
an end. I hadn't taken a vacation for about 18 months. Knowing 2KY's predilection
for swapping shifts around when people were on leave, I asked for a guarantee
that my job would be waiting for me when I returned. The boss of the trade
union (I think it was Barry Unsworth) wouldn't give it to me, so I said,
"Seeya later," and resigned. Yes, like 2HD in Newcastle, 2KY was owned
and operated by the Trades and Labor Council.
By the way, while I was at 2KY, the "indecent assault" case raised its
ugly head again. Someone somewhere found the original court hearings and
realized that the case had not been finalized. So I was summoned to appear
at Darlinghurst Court, that imposing sandstone building you saw in the
last chapter. It's a bloody good thing I wasn't too famous in Sydney because
my appearances (and there were a couple of them) didn't make the press.
I told Alan Ireland about the situation but he shrugged and said not to
worry about it. As it turned out, he was right. The case was declared a
"no bill" and dismissed. I remember the judge looking at me in court and
saying how "curious" he thought it was that the prosecution evidence had
disappeared. Meanwhile, the Liberal state government in New South Wales
had been replaced by a newly elected Labor government, and homosexuality
My craggy-faced Jewish lawyer sent me a bill for $350 and I was never
so pleased to pay a bill in my entire life. It was all over.
Return to Home Page