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The 2SM web shrine was last updated on Monday, 26 December 2016
From 1975 to 1982 Sydney radio station 2SM played an intrinsic role in my life. Actually, that's an understatement. To a degree, 2SM was my life. There were lots of other things going on, of course, but while for most of my friends radio was just something going on in the background, for me it was very much in the foreground. The jocks were my pals who got me through each day, and my visits to the station became more frequent as I got older.
It was surprising to me, when I started putting this section of my website together in 2002, that there was so little available on-line about the glory days of 2SM. So if you are a former 2SM junkie like me, this is the place for you!! Settle in for a long trip down memory lane and please be patient as the page downloads it's worth it!
A note about the audio on this page. Wherever you see this little animation, it means there is a nifty 2SM promo, jingle or some other kind of snippet for the savouring. Depending on your browser, these clips might take you to a new page, but once you've finished listening, just hit the "back" button on your browser and it should return you to where you came from. You don't want to lose your place on the page, after all! If you do, hopefully the menu bar to the left will help guide you back to where you were.
Alternatively, open the link in a new tab or window so you can keep reading while you're listening. I'm sure you will work it out!
The longer tracks, which are usually compilations of different segments or excerpts from programs, are embedded and won't require you to leave the page, so you can keep reading while you listen.
There is quite a huge selection of audio in my archives, and I might even change some of the clips now and then. For instance, if you click on the big 2SM denim logo at the top of this page, you'll hear one of the hundreds of old 2SM ID jingles, and that will change now and then. So come back when you can to have another listen. Enjoy!
A 2SM day always started with the madcap Ian MacRae, the best and highest rating breakfast announcer of his day. He did the 5am-9am slot solo for several years before the seriously demented and irritatingly amusing Hon Nick Jones, a crazy self-appointed local government councillor who initially did the odd guest segment on the show, became Macca's regular sidekick.
Ian MacRae was audacious from his beginnings on Melbourne radio and then joined the pirate radio crusade in the UK, returning to Australia to join 2SM in the late 1960s. Which meant that by the time kids like me were tuning in, Macca had already refined his wacky delivery to perfection. There's some interesting info on Macca's pirate days at the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame, including an audio clip from 1966.
Having done his madcap breakfast thing on 2SM for five or six years before I started tuning in, there were many on air adventures that I have no personal recollection of but which avid pre-1975 2SM listeners often reminisce about. One is this record that he released in 1970, with the not-too-modest title of "Mac Mac Mac MacRae". Is it musical genius? Methinks not. But to satisfy MacRae Maniacs, here it is. Mac Mac Mac MacRae
One of the first things I noted when I did start tuning in was that MacRae had a thing for chickens. He brought new meaning to the Aussie chook raffle. His take on Rick Dees' 1976 hit "Disco Duck" was of course "Disco Chook." After years of pining to hear it, a very very kind site visitor sent me the song to share with you. Click on the chooks at left to hear the classic parody, "Disco Chook"!
2SM was a promotion-heavy station, doing whatever they could to lure listeners and entertain them as well. As MacRae was on air at dawn and set the tone for each day, he was often the master of promotional events and stunts. Paying the Harbour Bridge toll became a regular Rocktober promotion. If you click on the pic of Macca and the Hon Nick (which rhymes, incidentally), you can hear a snippet of the broadcast from the north pylon of the Bridge on the day they paid the toll in 1977.
The most famous was the Rocktober 1978 competition to win a trip on the jumbo that was going to go under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Here are a couple of on air promos for the much-hyped event:
And here's a complete package with the promos and the actual audio from the morning, featuring MacRae's live coverage of the event and 2SM's news reports. Thanks to Ian MacRae for supplying it. When the Jumbo went under the Harbour Bridge
And just so I don't spoil the surprise for anyone who doesn't remember it, or heaven forbid was not even around yet (it still amazes me that some people weren't born in time for the seventies), I offer a photo of the jumbo as it approached the Harbour Bridge. Just click on the thumbnail of the bridge on the left to see it in all its glory.
Ian MacRae was one of the funniest men I ever heard on radio. He also knew how to be serious when the occasion called for it. I remember vividly sitting at the breakfast table on August 17, 1977 (it was still the 16th in the USA), listening to 2SM when a song was interrupted and Macca announced the death of Elvis Presley. "I can't believe I have to annouce this," he said. "What a shocking start to the day."
Macca took the breakfast show on location at various times throughout his years on 2SM. From the north pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Hong Kong to London in 1977 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee and Alaska for a series of Christmas broadcasts in 1978, tied in with the famous Christmas Wish promotion, and later on to Bulgaria, he was here there and everywhere.
Actually, as it turned out, Macca never made it to Alaska; at the last minute he got sick and had to send Gordon O'Byrne to Santa Land with the Hon Nick instead. Here are a couple of different promos for that event:
One can assume that the chooks did their best to get to Alaska, too, if only to provide O'Byrne with a daily supply of googy eggs.
Macca and the Hon Nick were often joined by various characters, such as The Kid (played by Macca himself). Then there were the real people who called in regularly, such as the Phantom Joke Teller. They all kept us well entertained.
Early in 1979 Macca celebrated his 10th anniversary on air at 2SM with a big birthday party at Luna Park where the Hon Nick jumped out of the birthday cake. Obviously not the cake Macca is pointing a lance at in this photo.
The Hon Nick recorded a special Macca's 10th Birthday promo to tell us all about the celebrations and how you could win tickets. Which I did not.
2SM ran a trade ad which they did regularly during their peak run in B&T magazine congratulating the breakfast king for being such a good egg (but not a googy egg).
Click on the thumbnail to read it.
When Muhammad Ali came to Sydney in March 1979, two of his biggest media appearances were the infamous Logie Awards where Bert Newton unfortunately uttered those words, "I like the boy", and a visit to 2SM (photo of which is in the Jocks Gallery) where he got into a verbal stoush with the Hon Nick. Ali knocked the Hon out in one round.
Click on the photo of Ali looking emphatic (no doubt telling the Hon what was what) to hear a clip of that encounter.
And if you were ever unsure what day it was, this song would always set you right: Today's Friday
And as nothing really was sacred, here's a three-minute sampling of Ian MacRae and the Hon Nick talking nonsense about ongoing strikes in Australia and Prince Charles's new girlfriend in November 1980:
Even more nuttiness prevailed when Charles and Di got engaged in February 1981, and Macca decided to call Sydney socialite Diana "Bubbles" Fisher on the etiquette of royal weddings, should they be invited. One thing about Macca and the Hon Nick they always amused themselves. Program Director John Torv did not sound so amused:
Macca and the Hon Nick then hit the charts, both in Australia and the UK, with "The Ballad of Lady Di", an entertaining ditty featuring the Hon Nick Jones on lead vocal. Recorded in 1981 in honour of Lady Diana's engagement to Prince Charles, it was incomparable in its rhyming elegance, with the chorus: And Lady Di Di Di said "stick it in your eye! The only man I'm gonna marry is Prince Charli." You can hear the entire song by clicking on the cover image on the left.
There are no chooks singing on "The Ballad of Lady Di"
By the time of Charles and Diana's wedding in July 1981, 2SM was already losing ground in the ratings and most of its top personalities had departed for other stations. Despite the success of "The Ballad Of Lady Di" and other zany promotions such as "Plovdiv", which involved broadcasting breakfast from Bulgaria, prospects for any future ratings reigns looked bleak as bleak as the conditions in the communist state, as Bulgaria then was. Click on the ad for the Plovdiv promotion, which was printed on the back of that week's chart in May 1981, to see a bigger version.
And below is some audio from Macca and the Hon Nick's broadcast in Gabrovo, Bulgaria. Outrageous for its time, ludicrous, and classic.
Long before Sydney Tower was known as such, it was called Centrepoint Tower, and when it opened in September 1981, it was a big deal in a city still growing up, literally and figuratively. Of course Macca gave some focus to it on his show, as evidenced by a silly audio clip that you can hear if you click on the tower on the left.
It was a credit to MacRae that he stuck it out at 2SM as long as he did, finally leaving in April 1982, with a memorable last program, a copy of which I would dearly love. I was in the car driving to university at the time and only heard some of it. I'm hoping that one day, when he digs through his boxes of archives, he'll find the tape and share it with me. Meanwhile, here are a few of the very last moments of that show:
Macca returned to 2SM twice in later decades, but they were brief stints because it was never going to be the same. And no matter how famous and funny and well-paid some of the 1980s breakfast stars were,there never was another breakfast jock like Ian MacRae.
It was too easy to forget, after 2SM was outshone by the new FM stations in the 1980s, and Triple M's Doug Mulray became the most successful breakfast presenter in Australia, just how groundbreaking Ian MacRae was in the 1970s. Macca's foray into television in the late '70s with Thank God It's Friday at the Zoo was a dismal failure. Catch Us If You Can in 1981 fared somewhat better, but never repeated his radio success. Lukewarm responses to his TV career did little to diminish his legendary status as a radio icon. In 1981 the Australian Women's Weekly ran a nice feature on Macca, which you can read here.
Macca moved on to other stations and other adventures including founding and running the Ian MacRae Radio School, but he will always be remembered most fondly for his days ruling the Sydney breakfast airwaves on 2SM.
I caught up with Macca in 2012 for a lengthy interview, and he kindly posed for this photo, holding the framed staff photo he was given when he left "More Music 2SM" as it was then called. Check back soon for the transcript of that great interview, where Ian shares the stories of his lengthy career, especially the glory years as Sydney's best breakfast DJ.
In my early days listening to 2SM, the 9am-midday shift was occupied by Bob Rogers, a radio veteran who had notched up many firsts on Australian radio (including being the first DJ to play "Pub With No Beer" in 1957). This was Bob Rogers' second time at the station, having been one of the original Good Guys in the early to mid 1960s, and having famously toured with the Beatles for 2SM in 1964.
Bob Rogers' talkback program on 2SM was great listening (even though Bob has admitted he hated that period back at 2SM, feeling like a fish out of water). There were a few days in early 1976 when I was glad to be sick at home from school so that I could listen to Rogers followed by Bob Maumill and George Moore in the noon-3pm shift.
But mornings on 2SM really made their mark when Bob Rogers departed, Mike Gibson arrived, and the Gibson and Moore show began midway through 1976.
Gibson and Moore became the pre-eminent celebrity interviewers on radio in the late 1970s in Sydney. All the overseas stars were lining up to be interviewed by them. They were an interesting pair; Gibson the ocker Aussie bloke and Moore the mild-mannered straight guy. The combination really worked like magic, and I had to find even more reasons to stay at home from school during the years Gibson and Moore were on air together.
As well as interviewing, they offered opinions sometimes controversial, usually with some humour on the news issues of the day, and they took requests and general calls from the great unwashed of Sydney. Ably supported by their executive producer John Brennan (a radio legend who deserves a whole website to himself) and secretary Maureen, they were the best morning team in radio anywhere. Here's a Gibson and Moore medley for you to enjoy:
It was a shock when Mike jumped ship in November 1979 and headed for 2GB, but perhaps it shouldn't have been. 2SM was more music and less talk by then, and Gibson was a talker. He went on to become one of Australia's top sports commentators. He's still on 2GB to this day.
George stayed on and did the morning slot alone. Of all the DJs from my 2SM era, George Moore was the one who hung on at the station for the longest. But more on that later. He's on 2UE these days, which you can read about here.
Gordon O'Byrne (aka Googy O'Byrne, aka Gordon-I'm-a-personal-friend-of-ABBA-O'Byrne) hosted the early afternoon shift doing requests from noon-3pm from 1976 for three years. He was jovial, a good interviewer (especially when it came to ABBA) and just a real nice guy. When he left 2SM as part of the mass exodus in 1979, it was quite a loss. Googy went over to 2UW for a while, and ended up on radio in Perth which is actually where he'd originally established himself as a jock.
You can hear one of Googy's ABBA promos here.
Here's a sampling of some of Googy's request line magic from 1977 and 1979, working those callers, sharing the love...
The Googmeister taking your request
Gordon can be heard on 6IX any time you feel like hearing those dulcet tones. It was great also to see him turn up on TV in 2007, in the Foxtel History Channel documentary Thanks For Listening. He waxed lyrical on his memories of those heady halcyon days at 2SM, recalling the constant stream of stars coming into the station and what it was like to be broadcasting with the best view in Sydney.
And then there was Ron E Sparx, who did the afternoon drive shift, initially from 3pm-6pm, and later from 3pm-7pm. Sparxy was and still is a total legend, one of the most dedicated and professional rock music jocks in Australia ever. And he didn't even need those King of Pop Best DJ awards to prove it!!
He did some terrific interviews, my favourite being a lengthy special called The Saga of the Little River Band. I was looking for that special for years, after my tape collection had been stolen in the mid-1980s. Thanks to the National Film & Sound Archive I eventually got a new copy of it on CD. Hooray!
Here's a promo for that LRB special just to jog your memory (although it's not Sparxy doing the promo; I think it might be Barry Chapman).
And here's another promo for the Saga Of The Little River Band special.
In July 1979 another Little River Band special aired, on the release of the band's First Under The Wire album. Was it Sparxy's last 2SM interview? Or was it done by someone else at the station? I'd love to get hold of a copy to find out.
At any rate, here is the First Under The Wire promo, which sounds like it was spoken by Gordon O'Byrne.
Sparxy became a hero to me initially when I wrote a silly letter to him in 1976 asserting my musical tastes and he wrote back without being in the least bit patronising. I still have the letter and you can read it by clicking on the envelope on the left.
It was Ron E who taught me that I was an "active" radio listener as opposed to a "passive" radio listener. I used to call him regularly on the boogie phone, as he called it, and argue with him about what songs he should be playing, berating him when he made anything resembling a derogatory remark about one of my favourite bands (he dared to suggest that Heart was a one-hit wonder after "Magic Man" so I gave him an earful. No doubt "Barracuda" sorted him out!)
Everyone loved calling Ron E. Most were less active and certainly less intelligent than yours truly. Sorry, but it's true. The only person on the end of the phone who sounds smart in this 1976 sampling of Sparxy's sometimes politically incorrect listener interaction... is his mum. Love her Perry Como review. I do wonder what Ron E was about to ask her when this clip got clipped at the end.
Of all the jocks on 2SM, Ron E Sparx was the one who it seemed would stay forever. When he quit in July 1979 to take the position of program manager at 2UW, it was a tragedy of epic proportions. For me, anyway. Much later on he ended up at Sydney's Triple M and I started calling him during 1992 to have lengthy, and perhaps more adult, discussions about music and radio. Then he had a long gig at 2DAY FM, where he was famously sacked in December 2001 for scrawling an angry message to smokers on the studio monitor... in indelible ink. Go Ron E!!
Sparx then resurfaced as Sparks, presenting mornings on WS-FM, where he's been for so long he will probably never leave. There is a nice story from the Sydney Morning Herald on the surprisingly reclusive jock which you can read here. And if you click on the banner below, you can check out the details of his show on that station.
Ron and I met for a cuppa a few years after my 2SM web shrine had become established and known through the industry; in fact he had done a lot to promote it behind the scenes, spreading the word to many people, which was very kind. He had lots of great stories but it was all off the record! Must catch up with him again one of these days. Perhaps he would do an on-the-record "Sparxy Speaks" interview.
Alan Steele. Ahhh... he was a spunk, wasn't he? Alan's star shone brightly for two years from 1976 to 1978. He was only 18 when he started on 2SM, his nervousness evident in the constant laughter that permeated his announcing. Such a spunk.
Alan hosted the 6pm-9pm shift, and many a night I sat in my bedroom hanging on his every word.
Fortunately I didn't have to content myself with his voice only. Alan was an excellent self-promoter and managed to turn up on television quite regularly, even hosting Sound Unlimited once or twice in Donnie Sutherland's absence. At the age of 19 he was jetting off to America to interview top rock stars. And of course it was Alan who went to Sydney Airport to do the first interview with Sherbet when they returned from their first overseas trip in December 1976. And posed for photos with them, of course.
Photos by Bob King
So many spunks...
Alan Steele throws the hard questions at Sherbet's Alan Sandow and Tony Mitchell
I went into the 2SM studios in the old Clarence Street building in January 1977 with the sole intention of meeting Alan Steele. I awkwardly tried to flirt while he played with a rubber band, trying to look cool. He put three kisses at the bottom of the autograph he signed for me so he cannot have thought me too much of a dag.
Alan was the hottest DJ in Sydney in 1977. But the point was missed by no-one when Skyhooks lead singer Shirley Strachan dedicated "Ego is not a Dirty Word" to Alan in front of 80,000 people at the Summer Magic free concert in February 1978.
Here's a very young Alan Steele keeping the status quo, as such, hosting a couple of the Status Quo guys Rick Parfitt and Alan Lancaster in the studio one night in 1976, taking a call from a female listener. A veritable gaggle of intellectual giants!
In May or June of 1978 Alan took on a second job, becoming the host of Channel Ten's afternoon TV pop music show Right On, taking over from Kobe Steele (no relation, but they were apparently flatmates). Alan was very groovy even when he had his hair permed, embarrassingly making reference to it on camera one day. I preferred his hair straight.
Sadly, the strain of two high profile gigs must have been too much for him. One night in June 1978 Alan seemed to fall asleep on air. I was listening. The song finished and then there was just dead air. For about 20 minutes. The music eventually came back on, but soon after Alan disappeared from 2SM. Barry Chapman sacked him, and word is Alan might not have actually been sleeping, but playing Space Invaders in the jocks' playroom. Regardless, Alan was undeterred and continued with Right On for a couple of months until the show was finally axed.
And then he was gone, vanishing into obscurity for some time. But happily he's resurfaced and nowadays you can hear his voice all over the place as he is one of the advertising industry's top voice over guys. Check out some interesting sound grabs and see a more recent photos here.
After Alan Steele's departure, there was a bit of movement at the station, but eventually Sparxy took on an extra hour in the afternoons, and Grahame "Durry" Rodgers stepped into the new 7pm-10pm shift. I thought Durry was urbane and quite handsome. He'd been floating around doing late nights and weekends for a while, and I'd met him when I paid my first visit to the new 2SM glass tower in February 1978 one day after school. Durry and I sat on the studio carpet and he shared a beer with me. I was in my school uniform but it didn't seem to worry him, so it didn't worry me, either.
Durry was an Eastern Suburbs Rugby League supporter, which I could forgive him for, because he seemed to have quite good taste in music. Someone must have been trying to stir him, then, when he was allocated this interview in 1978.
Googy and Durry
Grahame had the nickname of "Durry" probably because he was fond of the odd cigarette. I guess he was a real hard rock 'n' rollin' DJ. He was a man of few words, really. His intros and outros were brief and to the point, but always always enthusiastic, revving the listener up for a great night. It always sounded like Durry was having a party, or at least a very good time. Here is a compilation of Durry discourse a flurry of Durryisms from 1978 and 1979.
Hard rockin' rollin' party boy notwithstanding, I still thought he was urbane and handsome. I'd sit in my bedroom doing my homework in the evening, hanging on his every word. I couldn't wait for the song to end, to hear him speak. I was completely devastated when he suddenly left 2SM in April 1979, and I called Ron E Sparx immediately. "Where's Durry???" I wailed. "He's in Newcastle on 2NX," Sparxy replied.
Fortunately Newcastle is close enough to Sydney that I could pick up the 2NX frequency on my little transistor radio, and was able to keep listening to him in the evenings, as he was doing the same shift. I called him several times while he was on air and he invited me to visit the 2NX studio if I was ever in Newcastle. At the end of 1979 I was, so I did. I think by then the hard rockin' life combined with the Newcastle air had done something to him because he didn't seem so urbane any more. Or maybe I was just getting older...
He became a radio celebrity in Newcastle, where he ruled the evening airwaves, and this article from the Newcastle Herald filled in a few gaps about Durry's background and family life.
I still have a soft spot for him. I understand he is no longer on radio, but is in touch with some of his old 2NX cohorts, and might even have seen this page at some stage. Durry, dear Durry, just know that you are still remembered fondly.
As for the other guys in the caricature with Durry, above, they were all first-class jocks doing their stuff on various evening and weekend shifts in the late '70s. Peter Grace migrated north from sister station 3XY in Melbourne some time in late 1977 or early 1978 and followed Durry in the 10pm-1am shift. He already had a good fan base from Melbourne. Some Geelong girls who came along with me to the Concert on the Corso Concert at Easter 1978 loudly squealed "1420 3XY!" when Gracey was on stage introducing Richard Clapton.
John Carroll was always most memorable to me because he was (and still is) a Chicago fan, and earned my enduring admiration for that. He equipped himself quite well in interviews with Chicago members, and wore his red and white Chicago t-shirt proudly. He says it matched his Ducati motorbike, which I presume lasted longer than the t-shirt.
His moustache lasted longer than both.
John went on to become Music Director at new Pay TV music channel, MusicMax, when it was launched at the end of 2000. He managed to dig up and air old Chicago videos occasionally, but eventually he quit the big city for the mid-north coast, living for some time in Port Macquarie. Now he is in Newcastle, where on Sunday mornings he can be heard on 2HD and across the Super Network (which also includes 2SM in its current incarnation).
He still loves Chicago and he still loves bikes. I'd say he loves bikes more, if this 2012 drawing by illustrator David Green is any indication. Thanks to JC for use of this great pic.
Trevor Sinclair was a smooth young guy who rose to prominence in late '78/early '79 when most of the other 2SM jocks were running away.
Trev himself was gone by the end of 1979 and, like some of the other SM guys, he went to 2UW and ended up on FM radio, talking smooth on MIX 106.5, doing inflight radio programs for Qantas and running the Travel Voice Magazine. These days he is presenting Drive on 2CH, which plays the best classic hits on air in Australia.
A couple of the other DJs on 2SM whom I listened to, met and enjoyed were the affable Mal Hedstrom, above left, and the really nice and really tall six-foot seven-inches Mark Smith, above right. Click on Mal's pic to hear an audio grab of him from early 1978, around the time I met him and got his autograph. Must have been the same day I drank beer with Durry. I cannot recall if Mal was sipping with us, too. Sorry Mal, but you know I was all eyes for the Durryman.
I met Mark at one of the Chequers free gigs, and the arrow in his name, if you can see it, signifies his extreme tallness, which left a lasting impression on me.
Everyone loved the perennial Mike Drayson, who had been with 2SM in the early '70s and returned in 1979. He had and still has one of the biggest voices in the business and you can see and hear about what he does these days here. His son Zac played Will Smith on Home & Away. Which makes Mike a cool dad, too.
Another jock who came, left and then came back was Keith "Wally" Williams. That's him looking jubilant on the right. The story was that he had been sacked from the station for some reason but then they "kissed and made up." Keith made a big impact in 1979 but left in October that year for the strangely alluring 2NX.
Of course he was back in Sydney and riding the FM airwaves through the 1980s and 1990s. He was the top-rating drive announcer in Sydney on 2DAY FM, a station he'd stayed at for 13 years, when he decided to bow out in October 2000 and move to broadcast software company RCS Australia, which he manages to this day.
In a class of his own hopefully not economy class, considering how much he travelled was David White. Whitey was the guru. Whitey was slick. Suave. Deep. When he wasn't producing world class "rockumentaries," hobnobbing with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago and Peter Gabriel, he was making award-winning documentaries such as The Global Countdown and choosing the music in his role as Music Director of the station.
Whitey was a Manly-Warringah football supporter, too, so I thought we were even possibly soul mates.
My favourite David White rockumentary was The Chicago Years, first broadcast over two mornings in late 1977 and repeated again in January 1978 after lead guitarist Terry Kath died. This was the documentary to end all documentaries. Whitey was a champion. I taped the special and treasured those tapes like precious jewels. Alas, I should have made copies. In 1985 my tape collection was stolen, and The Chicago Years (and the Ron E Sparx Saga of the Little River Band special) along with it. I was broken-hearted. I called 2SM by then staffed by strange people who had no understanding or empathy for my cause and they refused to even look for the original masters, let alone make copies for me.
Forward to 1991, when I was living in London, about to fly home to Sydney for a three-week visit. Inspired by a recent trip to LA, where I saw three Chicago concerts in a row, I wrote to David White, by this time News Director on Triple M, and explained how badly I missed the Chicago rockumentary and asking whether he might perhaps still have the tapes. Shortly after my arrival back in Sydney the phone rang, and it was David White. The next day he drove his car into my parents' driveway and presented me with my very own new copies of The Chicago Years. We sat in the garden, sipped iced water, talked about music, and I felt I was in the presence of a true radio legend.
As Chicago is my favourite band, let me also share this promo from back in 1976, which was voiced by Keith Williams. Regardless of the inaccuracy at the beginning of the promo ("10 years, 10 albums"... well, not quite, because Chicago formed in 1967, so it was in fact "9 years, 10 albums, one of which was a Greatest Hits album... but who am I to be picky?), I would dearly love to have a copy of this special. Keith doesn't have it. Anyone out there have it?
And while we're on my favourite bands, there was a nice interview with Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles on the release of the ultimate seventies album, Hotel California in late 1976. Whitey admits that he never got to interview the Eagles; he thought it had been Sparxy. But on listening to this clip, Whitey now reckons it was John O'Donnell. It sounds like Whitey to me, all earnest and direct. But it doesn't really matter; it was all about Henley
Whitey interviewed Bev Bevan from Electric Light Orchestra when he was travelling around for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, and they became very friendly. A great ELO special ran to coincide with the band's tour to Australia in February 1978.
While Chicago and the Eagles were my great passions, Whitey's was actually Led Zeppelin. He flew with them on the Starship, interviewed them at length more than once, and in 1979 was more than excited about their new album.
Check out the promo for the Led Zeppelin In Through The Out Door special.
When an on-air promo needed to be recorded at short notice, to plug a new free concert, special or competition, Whitey was often the go-to guy because, well, how could you not be persuaded after hearing him plug something? Here's a great pic of him in action in the production studio reading a script he's just whipped up.
Whitey stayed at 2SM after most of his contemporaries had ankled, taking over as program director in the early 1980s, and then eventually moving over to Triple M, where so many of the 2SM jocks worked in the 1980s. It was there that Doug Mulray dubbed him "The Mighty Whitey".
He made various forays into television as well, in particular the Seven Network's current affairs program Real Life, always looking debonair, interviewing the likes of Barbra Streisand and other Hollywood types. Then he was doing news at 2DAY FM but I didn't hold that against him. Now he is semi-retired, living the good life in his Sydney home, affectionately known as The White House. But he's always looking at potential new documentary projects and we definitely haven't seen or heard the last of the Mighty Whitey. Oh, and he still follows Manly-Warringah, too.
David White in 2011 holding a picture of his 2SM team in 1982.
Yes, it's the same picture Ian MacRae was given when he left earlier that year.
Click on the photo to see the picture up close.
In May 2011 I sat down for a three-hour interview with David White about his career in broadcasting, and much of it focused on 2SM. It was a mighty monster interview that I've called Whitey's Wisdom. He is the most articulate and thorough interviewee I think I've ever sat down with and does not have a bad word to say about anyone. No dirt but plenty of suds. His recollections are mainly about 2SM of course but there's also plenty on the other radio stations he worked at and his significant dip into TV current affairs.
Last but not least was Barry Chapman, who curiously avoided having his caricature done for the1978 2SM Top 100 poster from which the illustrations on this page are taken. Barry was the Program Director for 2SM during its heyday in the late 1970s, devised many of the revolutionary promotions and free concerts, and basically had the Midas touch.
Originally a DJ like everyone else, Barry still did the occasional on-air slot while he was PD. Here is a rare clip of him filling on on drive some time in either November 1977 or October 1978, pinpointed because of the reference to Graham Bonnet coming into the studio.
But most of his genius was effected behind the scenes, taking over from where the earlier 2SM mastermind, Rod Muir, and Muir's consultancy Digamae (which included John Torv, Trevor Smith and for a while David White) had left off.
And then in 1980 Barry left 2SM suddenly and controversially as the programming took a different direction. He hopped over to Triple M, where Rod Muir had already taken up residence, repeating his success on an FM scale.
After Triple M Barry moved to the ABC and ran youth network Triple J, taking it to unprecedented heights, before joining cable music television with Channel V and MusicMax. He has now "temporarily" retired and is playing the golf courses of Scotland until further notice.
I only met Barry Chapman for the first time in October 2000 at a music industry conference in Sydney, when I first started working with APRA. I told him he was my hero, that his work at 2SM alone, without any of the other remarkable feats he had managed, rated him as my number one radio person of all time. Seeing him around regularly after that, I kept reminding him of my love for the 2SM of his era, and he probably thought I was just a crazy stuck-in-the-'70s 2SM obsessive nutcase.
Who am I to argue?
But in actual fact, Barry was and is quite chuffed about this page, and in 2002 we sat down to a long conversation about the old days. The Chapman Chat his personal recollections of the glory (and sometimes gory) days at 2SM, delivered in Barry's frank and unabashed style is available for your reading pleasure.
It needs pointing out that during this period 2SM's commitment to news and current affairs was unstinting. Despite its focus on music and mayhem, the station had a news team that delivered serious news and incisive commentary unparalleled on music radio. Long before he was the cool calm collected host of Channel Nine's Today Show, Steve Liebmann was part of a great news outfit. Ian MacRae's breakfast craziness was punctuated by the Liebmann-White report, with the late Brian White's intelligent opinions providing much food for thought, even for teenage school girls breathlessly waiting for the next Sherbet song to come on air.
John Tingle was also an integral part of the crew, having been at 2SM originally in the early 1970s (and along with Rod Muir, he tells me, helping to form radio consultancy Digamae and coming up with the original denim logo) and then returning in 1978 to join Brian White as Sydney commercial radio's greatest editorial news heads. I don't recall him talking about guns in those days. (He founded the Shooters Party in 1992.)
Other news guys I remember were Steve Blanda as the ever-reliable roving reporter and floating news reader, and Terry Mabb, who liked hanging out at rock concerts.
The late great Frank Hyde called the Rugby League every weekend, famous for his catch cry "It's long enough, it's high enough, and it's straight between the posts!" 2SM was always involved in big Grand Final promotions, with free entertainment and Frank's legendary broadcasts. You can hear promos for the 1977 and 1979 Grand Finals.
Frank died in 2007 at the age of 91. He had called the League matches on 2SM from 1953 to 1986 and was the greatest football commentator of them all. During the years that I was an avid Manly-Warringah supporter in the late 1970s, I often relied on Frank's commentary. When he died, the Nine Network's Footy Show aired a nice tribute to him. See it here.
The ever-dependable Alan Wilkie gave the weather reports. It may surprise Sydney-siders who watched Alan on television for 30-odd years to learn that on radio he was quite audibly animated. He retired from Channel Nine at the end of 2001. I still miss his calm quiet authority. If you ever meet him and mention a special date, he can usually tell you what the weather was like that day temp, wind direction and speed.
And Shane Stedman's surf reports were essential on a station that was as much a part of Sydney's beach culture as Coppertone or Sea & Ski suntan lotion (we weren't screening the sun in those days, oh no). My friends and I would lie for hours in the sun at Harbord on the weekends; I'd take the transistor of course, and 2SM was mandatory. I remember first hearing Queen's "We Will Rock You" on 2SM in 1977 lying on a towel on Harbord Beach. I never surfed, but Shane's deadpan reports were still useful for planning our beach days.
There is a seriously great 10-minute compilation feature on 2SM's top news, sport and weather team, put together for a pitch to potential advertisers in 1979. You can listen to it right here.
There is a less-serious 2SM Tourthat was aired one night that gives little insight into the workings of the station, but lots of chuckles.
And here's a cute promo for 2SM's Specials of the Week that gives a really accurate picture (yeah, right) of how interviews were allocated to the different jocks.
If you need more DJ eye candy, click through to the Jocks Gallery where you can check out portraits and promo shots of some of the old 2SM announcers in living black and white.
There are also some fantastic trade ads that ran in media magazine B&T in the late '70s featuring the cast and crew of 2SM in photos or artist Peter Ledger's impressions. As a school-age listener back then I had no knowledge of these ads, but since putting this page together I have come across them and they are a real hoot! Click on each thumbnail to see wide-screen versions and see if you can put names to all the faces.
Our Recipe, 1977
The 2SM Show, 1978
The Remarkables, 1979
Speaking of remarkable, which was the catch-word for 2SM in 1979, do you remember the remarkable radio station TV ad? It featured model Virginia Hey, who had a remarkable mouth, and thanks to the National Film & Sound Archive, which has a remarkable collection of 2SM material, I can share that ad with you here. Just click on Virginia to watch it.
At a party in June 2003 a few of the old 2SM on-air and off-air folk found themselves together with yours truly. All were very complimentary about this website and we all posed for a photo. Click on the thumbnail for a bigger version.
L-R: Alan Steele, Debbie, Barry Chapman, Jeanette Johnson,
Keith Williams, Mandy Maier and Mike Drayson
I am hoping for more get togethers and more photos... I just need the jocks to come to the party! I'll keep you posted on that.
2SM was at the leading edge of radio promotions in Australia. There was always something going on usually many things going on at the same time and so much to hear, see do and win! By the time I became a 2SM junkie in late 1975 the station was gearing up to ensure its profile was the highest for the rest of the decade. And the higher the ratings, the more people were trying to call and win things, so it wasn't easy. Here are some of the fun things going on that I still have tangible evidence of.
ROCKwords was a competition that ran at least twice in the 1976-77 period. You cut something out of the newspaper that had a grid with words going across and down. The words were from song titles, and if you heard at least three songs in a row on 2SM then you called in and could win something. The biggest prize was for five in a row that was a very rich $500 cash. Four in a row was $100, also a nice chunk of cash back then. Click on the thumbnail image here for a sample ROCKwords game.
And if you heard three songs in a row that connected with the words on your ROCKwords grid, then you won a $55 diamond love ring from Diamond Traders. When I got through it was to Keith Williams, and I remember very clearly the day I went into the Diamond Traders city store at 15 Park Street in Sydney with my voucher from 2SM to select my ring. You can imagine how large the diamond was for the princely sum of $55!! Even in 1977 that didn't get you a lot of diamond!!
Check out this ROCKwords promo and relive the wild rush for diamonds and cash.
Of course every summer was big for radio promotions. Kids were on school holidays so there had to be lots to keep them tuned into 2SM while they were on the beach, making sure advertisers and sponsors like Coke, Tab, Stud Cola and Moove Flavoured Milk reaped the benefits of their hefty spends. In the summer of 1976 the "127 Days of Summer" theme gave the impression that summer went on and on. In 1977 2SM was "Takin' it to the Streets." The jingles flowed thick and fast, providing a sountrack to my life. You can hear a couple of them right here and another by clicking the 127 days of summer logo on the right:
Once back at school, some lucky kids even got to cover their exercise books in groovy 2SM denim.
As usual, the station was keeping the other media and the advertising industry apprised of all their goings on with trade ads in B&T. Here's one where they congratulate themselves on the promotions in early 1977. Just click on the thumbnail at left.
In 1977 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the release of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," 2SM and its sister stations, 3XY in Melbourne and 4IP in Brisbane, put out a re-make of the song with a host of stars doing the vocals.
Glenn Shorrock, Shirley Strachan, John Paul Young, Daryl Braithwaite, Renee Geyer and Frankie J Holden rocked around the clock and I still have my copy in mint condition.
Anyone out there have a Rocktobie? Anyone remember the Rocktobies? These illustrious awards were held in Rocktober 1977. I am dying to find some pictorial evidence of this, so if anyone has a Rocktobie, please send me a photo. Meanwhile, here's a snippet from the Rocktobie Awards.
At the end of 1977 2SM held its Christmas Wish promotion. The winner was a girl whose wish was that Sherbet who had moved to America for a year or more to really try and make it there could come home for a concert.
The result of that was what I still refer to as Victoria Park Heatwave in January 1978, which I will come to later.
1978 was a huge year for 2SM, its most successful in the ratings, in large part due to the non-stop promotional activity of the station. It was also the year that the biggest-ever musical film was released. Starring our very own Olivia Newton-John, Grease was to become an enduring worldwide phenomenon, and when Livvy came to Sydney for the Australian premiere at the Paramount Theatre on 3 August 1978, 2SM had secured the rights to the premiere party. Tickets to the Grease Ball at Paddington Town Hall were the hottest item in Sydney. Alas, I didn't win any tickets, but my memory of the event is so strong I might as well have been there!
Harvey and Tony from Sherbet greasing it up at the ball
There were four different on air promos for the Grease Ball. Click on each of the four pictures below and you can hear them all. Grease is the word!
Sparxy looking spiffy at the ball
Livvy looking so lovely at the ball.
Macca and the Hon Nick doing their thing at the ball
When the Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Band film opened in Australia, 2SM did it all again. Peter Frampton was in Sydney (he was in fact touring Australia with Sherbet as his opening act), so he was available to be the special guest at the film premiere and the Magical Mystery Tour party that followed. Winners of tickets to the event on 17 November 1978 didn't know where they were going to end up; they were transported by bus from the theatre after the film. It turned out the party was a disco at Channel Ten. I didn't get to that, either, but I hope it was more successful than the film. Here's a Sgt Peppers promo, anyway.
There were many entertaining Rocktober promos played through the most fun-filled month of the year. Click right to hear one of them.
Rocktober was 2SM's biggest promotion each year a whole month of non-stop competitions, prizes and always a free concert. I deal with the free concerts in a moment, but even aside from that, Rocktober rocked. More than a month of craziness in radio, Rocktober was a state of mind. Some of the major promotions ran each Rocktober for successive years in the late '70s, but here's a list of the major promotions and giveaways in Rocktober 1978, and if it's in bold it means you guessed it there's a promo to listen to:
And I didn't win any of it. The only thing I won from 2SM in 1978 was a copy of Steely Dan's Greatest Hits. But I wasn't complaining.
After the mightiest of Rocktobers, what does the top-rating station in Sydney do to stay on top for the rest of the year? They bring back their Christmas Wish promotion, of course. Click on the Christmas decorations below to hear a few of the on air promos for the Christmas Wish at the end of 1978.
At the end of 1978 2SM produced a poster featuring the Top 100 of the year. It was a strange list because it combined singles and albums, which is how their weekly charts were compiled at the time, and I never quite worked out why.
It didn't really matter, because the best part of the poster was the caricatures of all the DJs and the general impression the drawings gave of a happy fun-filled sunshiney chook-crazy place.
If you click on the poster image you can see an even bigger version.
And if you click here you can hear the promo for the 1978 Top 100.
My 2SM Top 100 '78 poster is framed in glass and hanging on my office wall. I wonder how many other people still have theirs. Probably not as many as still have their copies of Bat Out of Hell and Saturday Night Fever. Ahhh... 1978. It was a very good year.
As an aside, the whole chart compiling business seemed very random to me, but decades later it is fun to look back at them and recall just how great the music was. Click on these thumbnails to check out some chart action from 1977 and 1978.
The amazing promos kept going in 1979 and beyond. The "Airway to Heaven" competition to fly to London (with David White, of course) and see Led Zeppelin in Knebworth on August 4 was very cool. I was not into Led Zeppelin so I didn't try for it. (I think I was a bit busy with my HSC Trials, too.) I finally got into Led Zeppelin twenty years later. I did go to the Knebworth concert in 1980, starring the Beach Boys and Santana, but that's not a 2SM story.
So let's stick to the 2SM promos. For those of you who love Led Zeppelin, here are four great promos for the "Airway to Heaven" comp.
If lucky Matthew from Newport is out there, or any of the other winners of "Airway to Heaven", I'd love to hear about how that trip was back in 1979.
Next was Mike & George's Great Supermarket Raid. Really! Do you remember this one? I have no personal recollection of it but the audio evidence exists. Prize offering included prime meat. "2SM beefs it up!" Really! $2000 worth of meat and groceries from Grace Bros supermarket.
Did you win? Were you a star "grocery grabber"? Please please let me know if you won this and send me a photo, too! Meanwhile, click on each of the trolleys to hear the promos.
There could hardly have been a more exciting promotion than Rocklift. And no, this wasn't about listeners competing in some heavy lifting competition. This was about sending no less than ten lucky winners on the trip of a lifetime, to five destinations in the USA to see five concerts The Cars, Little River Band, Bee Gees, Earth Wind & Fire and Bette Midler all expenses paid for two weeks. Taking place as it did just weeks before my HSC, I guess there was no way I could go. It probably didn't stop me from entering, though! Click on the Billboard magazine headline to read all about it (and the other promotions going on around that time).
If you click on each of these rocks, preferably going from left to right, you can hear all the Rocklift promos as the promotion was slowly unveiled to listeners. Awesome stuff - rock on!
After all the excitement of the 1979 winter promotions, including some great concerts which you will read about below, 2SM geared up for a ton of interviews, specials and more for Rocktober and the rest of the year,
as this promo makes clear.
One of the Rocktober promotions in 1979 was "Win 2SM for a day" (or something like that.) The Elliott family of Haberfield were the winners, and the station broadcast from their home all that day with special guests such as John Paul Young. Here's a few snippets from that day; It's mainly from Keith Williams' drive show. Mrs Elliott sounded very unfazed by the whole experience. If you are one of the Haberfield Elliots (or know them) please get in touch and tell me about the day. Did Macca take the chooks with him? There must be photos and great memories!
So the seventies came to an end, and a great end-of-year and end-of-decade series was The 1270s Recalling 10 Years of Music. It covered significant events of the decade, too, and of course there was a competition to encourage us to listen, offering cash prizes.
If you remember the '70s, remember the 1270s. And hear the promo.
Of all 2SM's promotions, though, the most exciting and interactive were the free concerts....
Free rock concerts were already a part of the 2SM way of life before I became a full-time devotee of the station. On 26 May 1974 on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House - possibly the first rock concert staged on that hallowed ground - AC/DC supported Stevie Wright at a 2SM freebie. In September 1975 AC/DC headed a free gig at Victoria Park supported by Stevie Wright and Ross Ryan. And in late 1975 the Ted Mulry Gang and John Paul Young & the Allstars performed the famous gig on the floating stage on the harbour at Bradfield Park. That was the gig when the girls jumped in the water and swum to the stage to embrace Ted, only to be tossed back into the harbour by burly roadies (immortalised in the "Jump in my Car" clip). I believe it might also have been one of the first public sightings of JPY in his too-tight sailor suit. I have always believed it was a 2SM concert but am not completely sure. No one has ever told me it wasn't.
At any rate, I wasn't there. My first 2SM free concert was on Sunday 13 February 1977 at Victoria Park.
Victoria Park was the main venue for many of 2SM's free gigs. On this occasion the lineup was Sherbet, Dragon - only recently transplanted from New Zealand but already kicking butt - and Air Supply. There were some 40,000 people there, including me, my date Colin, my school friend Alison, and some other school friends who amused themselves by setting fire to an unsuspecting girl's hair.
At the Royal Easter Show in 1977 2SM presented a free concert on the Friday night starring JPY & the Allstars supported by Billy T. I remember it, so I must have been there, but I have no photos.
And then, in an extremely clever ploy to win the undying devotion and adoration of school kids, the August/September school holidays of 1977 were filled in with free daytime concerts at Chequers nightclub in Goulburn Street, starring acts both famous and up-and-coming. You needed a ticket to get in but they were easy to get, and because of the intimate layout of the venue, it was easy to meet the rock stars and hang out with the jocks. A 2SM junkie's dream!
Sponsored by Cheezels, the 2SM Mighty Rock concerts at Chequers live in my memory to this day. Dragon, TMG, Ol' 55, Windchase, Finch, Jeff St John and Feather shared the stage with Rabbit, Scandal, Supernaut, Mother Goose, Moonlight and Punkz. I have to say I have absolutely no recollection of Punkz, but my friend and guru, Glenn A Baker has reminded me that it was a band he put together and managed in the wake of Ol' 55's success.
The Chequers gigs were fun not only for the music, but because we could hang with the DJs in the room. Mark Smith was very friendly. News man Terry Mabb was happy to mix with the chicks, too. Fun times.
There were seven different on air promos for the Mighty Rock concert series, and they're all linked in this montage below. Just click on each pic - including the ticket - to hear a different one and be transported back to those rock-filled school holidays.
Some of the mighty rockers at Chequers.
Clockwise from top: Dragon, Feather, Scandal, Mother Goose, Finch, Jeff St John.
The 1977 free 2SM Rocktober concert was at Victoria Park on October 23, sponsored by Stud Cola (grouse, mate!) and starred Dragon, Stars and The Ferrets.
The Ferrets in action
My friends Emanuel and Mark digging the scene at Victoria Park, Rocktober 1977
Dragon digging the Rocktober sun in Victoria Park.
Well, okay, it was overcast...
As previously noted, 1978 was 2SM's biggest year. The free concerts started with a bang and kept on going. Life was good.
The first of the year was the free Victoria Park gig supposedly arranged as part of the Christmas Wish competition that had been won by a pining Sherbet fan who wanted them to come home from overseas. Truth was, Sherbet were homesick and 2SM and 3XY made it worth their while to come back for a couple of big shows.
JPY & The Allstars sweat it out at 2SM's
Victoria Park Heatwave
The 2SM gig starring Sherbet, John Paul Young & the Allstars, Cold Chisel and U-Turn was scheduled for Sunday 8 January 1978. It poured with rain all day. My friend Alison and I were walking through the long underground tunnel from Sydney's Central Station to Victoria Park when we saw streams of kids walking in the opposite direction. The show had been cancelled due to the weather.
Sherbet had to extend their stay in Australia so that the show could be rescheduled the following Sunday, and everybody prayed for sunshine.
The gods must have heard 40,000 prayers, because on Sunday 15 January 1978 the mercury hit 44 degrees celcius (that's 116 degrees farenheit, give or take a degree). Luckily Victoria Park is the location of one of Sydney's Olympic-size pools and Alison and I took turns all day to swim while the other guarded our spot in close proximity to the stage. The heat never subsided, even after dark, so we all screamed in delight at Sherbet as some kindly organisers hosed us down with power hoses from the front of the stage.
Sherbet... heat... summer love... ahhh...
There were some really cool promos made for this concert, a bunch for the originally scheduled January 8 gig, and then a bunch more when the date was changed to a week later. Have a listen to Daryl Braithwaite, JPY, Ron E Sparx and more talk up the concert that was always going to make us melt, no matter what the weather.
Four weeks later, 2SM staged what was possibly my favourite of all their free concerts. The "Rock at the Opera Summer Magic" gig was held on the Opera House forecourt on Sunday 12 February 1978 starring Little River Band, Skyhooks, Stars and Finch. Stars were riding high at the time, playing at several 2SM free gigs, and in view of the fact that guitarist Andy Durant wasn't around much longer, I'm glad I got to see all those performances.
Stars at the Opera House
Little River Band making magic
The best thing about "Summer Magic," though other than Shirley Strachan's aforementioned dedication to hot DJ Alan Steele before "Ego is Not a Dirty Word" was Little River Band. LRB was the best live band in Australia during the 1970s, and this was the best concert I ever saw them do. They also had a special guest, John Hartman of the Doobie Brothers, joining Derek Pellici on drums. There were 80,000 people on a balmy Sydney night, and me with an unrestricted view from atop my friend Peter Dixon's shoulders... It was bliss.
And of course there were on air promos... always great promos. There are three for the Rock at the Opera Summer Magic free concert, linked to from three of the photos below. Start clicking!
There was a TV special made by Channel 7, which only featured the Little River Band performance, called It's A Long Way There. I don't recall how long after the actual gig the special was broadcast. In fact, I don't remember seeing it... but I'm sure I did! I knew the footage was out there, but only recently did I discover that I actually had the special on a DVD that someone had given me. It was beautifully produced by pioneering Australian music video maker Stephen Priest (who died in 1989), and as I am unable to share the footage here, I can at least offer you a gallery of photos, so click on through to my Little River Band It's A Long Way There page. I guess the "Rock At The Opera / Summer Magic" moniker didn't work for the programmers at Channel 7, but it's good to see the 2SM logo all over the monitors on stage.
I love my memories... I love my photos... I love knowing that I was Rocking at the Opera, experiencing the Summer Magic. But what I really want is this t-shirt. Anyone got one?
At Easter in 1978, 2SM held a very laid-back free concert on the Corso at Manly Beach. It was on Monday 27 March and it featured Richard Clapton and Ray Burton. Who? Well, I was having trouble remembering who he was, too, but some research reminded me that he is the guy who co-wrote "I am Woman" with Helen Reddy. I'm pretty sure he didn't sing that song at the Corso Concert that day. Ray wrote to me at one stage and pointed me in the direction of his Ray Burton Music website, where, among other things, I learned that he supported Queen on their 1976 Australian tour... and I hadn't remembered him from that either. And I thought I had a great memory. Tsk tsk.
In the absence of any photos from this event, even though I definitely was there...
Rocktober 1978 was already a blaze of promotions and craziness... all of Sydney breathless with excitement waiting to see the jumbo go under the Harbour Bridge... and to cap it all off, the Rocktober free concert, again at the Sydney Opera House, was a stunning event. 2SM decided to import a couple of hot bands from overseas. One has gone on to maintain legendary status, the other proved to be a blow-in-the-wind one-hit wonder.
But on Sunday 29 October 1978 when Thin Lizzy and Wha Koo took the stage along with Jon English and Sports in front of 100,000 people, it was an event befitting the greatest month of the greatest year in the life of the greatest ever radio station.
Clockwise from top: Thin Lizzy, Wha Koo and Sports rocking the opera for Rocktober 1978.
But in fact Jon English was the hottest act of the day.
(And these awesome photos are from my own little 110mm camera!)
Rob and Deb rocking at the Opera
I went along to this one with Robyn, my musical soul mate and frequent concert companion in the late 1970s, and my two best school friends, Peter (on whose reliable shoulders I always had a reservation) and Marcus. We were such a cool bunch, weren't we?
Robyn and Peter
Check out Pete's strong wide shoulders
Marcus wearing a famous set of puka shells
and me wearing my traditional concert-going
black felt hat
Turns out I was cool enough to have my two seconds of fame in a video from the Thin Lizzy portion of the program. Click on the still of yours truly, below, to be taken to a clip of "The Cowboy Song" where, to my own surprise, I find myself sitting not on Peter's shoulders, but on another school friend, Wayne's. I hadn't even remembered Wayne joining us that day. Another memory lapse tsk tsk but thank goodness for Youtube, hey? (I appear at 0.07 seconds so you don't have to wait long to find me!)
If you'd rather watch the rather fabulous clip of "The Boys Are Back In Town" from this gig, then here it is!
The mood seemed to change with the advent of 1979. 2SM still rocked way above any other radio station, but my favourite DJs were drifting away, and the first free concert of the year took a subtle but noticable change in direction. The date was Sunday 18 February at Victoria Park, and the line-up was Dragon, The Angels, Split Enz, Kevin Borich and Sports. There were parachutists landing on the stage and amongst the 60,000-strong crowd there seemed to be a lot of safety pins through noses and some scary-looking people.
The Angels, taking the 2SM freebie
from pop to punk
Split Enz at Victoria Park. You can't see their faces but you can see their costumes.
The rougher crowd didn't mean we didn't have fun. By this time I was such an old hand at 2SM free concerts that my friends knew they didn't have to get there until the last moment. I'd be there early in the day with Robyn to grab our space, and Marcus, Peter and anyone else who wanted to join us would get there before show time, make a bee-line for the front centre of the stage, and then walk in a direct line into the crowd. Just far enough back for a good view and good sound they would find yours truly.
Deb and Marcus and matching puka shells groovin' to the moovin'... and the Cinzano
Clearly Marcus and I were keen to plug Moove, but did Moove plug me?... Check out this clip and see if you can find me in the crowd!
1979 was a busy year for me as I was doing my HSC (final year high school leaving certificate) but 2SM concerts seemed to alleviate some of the stress. Two smaller-scale freebies held at the Hordern Pavilion that winter were good fun. Tickets were given away for free through fairly easy-to-win phone-ins.
On Saturday 28 July 1979 the English History concert (apt seeing as I had just finished my HSC Trial Exams) was held starring Jon English, Air Supply and Gillian Eastoe with King Dog. Jon English was having great success with his double album greatest hits set, English History, and the back of the stage was draped with a huge Union Jack. Don't know that he'd get away with it in today's republic-focused patriotic times, but it seemed okay then.
Hear an English History gig promo
It was also the time when The Knack were sweeping across the world with their huge hit "My Sharona," and 2SM got them to Sydney for a free show, again at the Hordern Pavilion, on Sunday 19 August 1979. Sydney-siders might be amused by this entry from The Knack's tour diary, which used to be online but is no longer there, and which seemed to have its dates mixed up:
August 22, 1979
We checked into the Seaville Townhouse, which is the hotel in Queens Cross where all the rock groups stay. We were amazed to read the welcome sign on front of the building, The Seaville Townhouse welcomes Jim Nabors and The Knack. It was like we were being billed as his backup band! We met him and hes a nice guy. When we run into him, all of us go Shazam! or Gaaawleee!
Here are three different promos for the free gig and the on air special on The Knack:
Rocktober 1979 ended on Sunday 4 November with the Concert of the Decade. This was I believe the most momentous concert that has ever been staged in Australia. Ever. It was Barry Chapman's concept, to bring together all of the Australian artists from the 1970s who had had major hits, on one bill, on two stages, in one day. Apparently everyone told him he was mad, that it couldn't be done. But Barry didn't become my hero for nothing. He pulled it off, and brilliantly, as 180,000 people could attest.
This was also stress relief at its most potent, scheduled as it was smack bang in the middle of my HSC exams.
The fact that I did not do so well in my General Studies exam the next day could possibly have been due to the fact that my mind was still on the steps of the Opera House forecourt.
The scene at 6.30am
Settling in for a long day's waiting... Oh well, we'd been waiting a whole decade for this concert!
Not right up against the stage, no. Because the people on the steps at the front
were raked down, not up, we chose to place ourselves at the foot of the steps.
It gave us a better view of both stages, anyway.
Even though a few of the major Australian acts of 1970s were unavailable, including Little River Band, JPY and AC/DC, this was a line-up that no Big Day Out has yet equalled:
Mental as Anything
Ted Mulry Gang
• Neale Johns
Aunty Jack Team
Jo Jo Zep & the
John Paul Young
As always there were some fantastic on-air promos to fire up the excitement leading up to this event. I was excited. Beyond excited. Too excited to worry about the HSC.
Click on each of the photos of the hundreds of thousands of excited people below to hear a different Concert of the Decade promo. Click on the 2SM logo, too.
There were many many highlights of the day... having Marc Hunter back on stage with Dragon (he'd left the band at that stage)... Hearing Mike Rudd sing "I'll Be Gone" in one of the more poignant performances... Neil Johns' amazing delivery of his Blackfeather hit "Seasons of Change"... Colleen Hewett's astoundingly powerful voice commanding us to "Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord"... Stevie Wright's most memorable performance of "Evie Pts 1, 2 and 3," immortalised on film and shown regularly these days on ABC-TV's Rage... and the last major performance of Sherbet, who quickly and sadly fizzled out after that, before resurfacing a year or so later as The Sherbs.
The finale was an all-star salute to Johnny O'Keefe with"Shout" and "Move it Baby, Move it." As Moove Flavoured Milk was the sponsor of the gig, it was the least all those rock stars could do to thank them.
Pretty good snaps for a little 110mm camera, hey?
"There will have to be a TV special made of this!" declared Barry Chapman at the end of the concert. "Now let's get the hell out of here!!" He, the 2SM jocks and all the stars of the concert cruised around the harbour on a boat and partied into the wee small hours.
The rest of us picked ourselves up, and went back to our lives, our HSC exams, whatever. The TV special obviously went to air, because I have a Concert of the Decade TV special promo to prove it.
But I must have been overseas because I never saw it on TV, one of my life's biggest regrets until recently. Happily, after years of asking around about it, a few former 2SM junkies have sent me some precious footage which I will now treasure forever. With Mike Drayson's masterful narration and historical footage incorporated into the program along wtih tributes to bands and artists who could not be there, it's a wonderful filmic record of the event. It is quite something to re-live some of the best moments of one of the best days of music that ever was.
Click through to my Concert of the Decade page to see images from the special. They're better than those snapshots from my 110mm camera! You can click on the image strip below to go through to some awesome visual memories.
This is not commercially released footage and I am not in a position to pass it on, however if you go to Youtube and do a search there are many clips from the TV special available for you to view and I do share some of those clips on the Concert of the Decade page.
And at least in those long intervening 29 years before I had the footage, I was able to re-live some of the better moments of the concert on The Concert of the Decade album for posterity.
Some time after the concert, at least a year if not longer, maybe many years later, Barry Chapman spoke about it, maybe for a documentary on radio or something. I will endeavour to find out where this clip comes from, but meanwhile, enjoy a grab of Barry remembering one of his greatest-ever achievements. Always my hero, Barry!
I always look back at the Concert of the Decade not only as one of the most amazing days in my life of music, and not just as a celebration of the most wonderful decade that ever was, but as something that signalled the end of an era. 2SM never rode so high again as it did in the early summer of 1979. Go on, click on that gorgeous summer denim logo for a summery jingle from 1979.
The late 1970s saw 2SM flying high on the airwaves, in the ratings, and in the clouds having moved from their long term home at 257 Clarence Street in the city, over the Harbour Bridge and into the beautiful glass tower on Blues Point Road in North Sydney. I so loved to visit there after school on many a day, and admire it from a distance as I took the train or drove over the Harbour Bridge.
Blues Point Road
It's worth pausing to reflect on just what a statement that glass tower was, its neon "2SM" sign beaming across Sydney Harbour. Back in the late 1970s, that seven-story structure was a sign of opulence and success that no other radio station in Australia had been audacious enough to flaunt.
When the station moved into the "palatial palace" a groovy promo was devised to celebrate. Click here to hear all about it.
There was an amazing 15-minute promotional film made about 2SM when they moved into the glass tower in 1978. It might have been for advertisers, or just for historical purposes. Either way, it is an absolute treasure, featuring many of the jocks, the news team, the support staff, the creation of promotions and the excitement of the free concerts.
I add it to the 2SM web shrine with great excitement. After making it this far down the page, you've earned the right to see it. It will rock your world!!
The 2SM sales team was in overdrive in 1979, determined to keep advertisers, and put together some great audio presentation pitches. One was a 10-minute compile just devoted to News, which you might have listened to on the way down this page.
Another presentation was this "A normal day at 2SM" compilation. Macca and the Hon Nick, Gibson and Moore, Keith Williams, John Carroll, Peter Grace, news, promotions and more are featured. It's worth a listen; even though some of my favourite DJs had left the station by then, it still captured the excitement of a radio station riding high in the ratings. For a while longer...
I can't resist giving you more jingle joy - 12 jingles from the 70s!
Every one of these denim logos links to a different 2SM jingle.
But by 1980 things had changed, and continued to change. I'd graduated from high school and started travelling overseas. By the time I got back to Sydney in late 1980 the radio scenario was quite different. Two new FM stations had joined the fray 2MMM FM and 2DAY FM and many of the top DJs who had left 2SM already started turning up on the FM airwaves. I resolutely ignored the new FM stations for as long as possible. Particularly as 2SM put in a fine effort in 1981, due largely to Ian MacRae and the Hon Nick and their Royal Wedding hijinx.
In came Charlie Foxx (who later, wisely, dropped the extra "x"), Ian Grace, Frank Fursey, who all stepped from 2SM into FM radio later in the eighties. They were great, but they were different. Everything was... different. Maybe that was only discernable to a 2SM junkie who'd been living and breathing the station through my teenage years when it just mattered so much. Maybe it sounded the same to everyone else. Here's Charlie Foxx doing his thing:
The 2SM of the seventies was well and truly gone, and along with it the much-loved denim logo. The new "More Music" format was all about music and less about personality. The loss of a distinctive identity was noticeable, but I'm not sure I would have been able to pinpoint and articulate that at the time. It was just... different.
Still, the rock stars continued to come in and plug their wares. A 1981 Christmas Party broadcast hosted by Charlie Foxx sounded very festive and on the ball musically. Click on the More Music logo to hear Charlie chat with Richard Clapton.
During that 1981-83 era, Charlie Foxx was the big on-air star at 2SM. He even managed to get Elton John to co-host with him as EJ the DJ. Have a listen here. (NB. Human League personify everything I hated about music in the early eighties!)
Charlie is now the Program Director for ARN, the Australian Radio Network, overseeing content for all the Mix, Edge and Classic Hits stations around Australia, including WS FM, where Ron E Sparx has been doing mornings for so long. There is a touch of 2SM everywhere in Sydney, even to this day.
By the time I was ensconsed at the University of NSW in 1982, I found myself dabbling in a bit of 2DAY FM, mainly because one if its announcers, Tim Webster (who had done his own stint at 2SM in 1975), was a huge Eagles fan and constantly played and talked about "the boys."
I was still a 2SM girl at heart, and hung on tenaciously. But then Ian MacRae left at the end of April 1982 and the only ones left were David White and George Moore. I wrote a long letter to George, sharing in great detail my history of 2SMaholicism, my experiences and memories, and told him that if he were to leave the station then I would have to give it up, too. I still have my original draft of that letter, six A4 pages of impassioned handwriting, and in reading it 30 years later, what comes through is that I was taking this personally. All my favourite DJs had left me, and I didn't want George to leave me, too. Unashamed, I share excerpts of this letter now. Just click on the "Dear George" clip below to read more.
He later confessed my letter had struck such a chord that he had been carrying it around in his suitcase for months. Nevertheless, in April 1983 George Moore left 2SM and almost immediately started on air at 2DAY FM. Sadly, reluctantly, I went with him.
(I only stayed there until I realised 2MMM was the place to be, but that's another story a much shorter one than this which you can read about here.)
After the demise of 2SM as I knew and loved it, the Hon Nick Jones wrote an article for the Sydney Morning Herald Guide which I have hung on to all these years because it said it all. If you don't mind the yellowed paper, click the image at right to read it.
Through the 1980s and 1990s 2SM underwent many transformations talk back, country music, you name it. There was a period in the mid-'80s when 2SM experienced new glory with the "Rock of the '80s," (which then Program Director Ian Grace pointed out to me in an email you can read here on the Feedback page), but by then I was long gone.
Jaan Torv, who as John Torv was part of Rod Muir's Digamae team that programmed 2SM in the mid-70s and became program director during its struggle to retain an audience when FM had arrived, also had some perspective on 2SM's fortunes in the 1980s, which you can read about here on the Feedback page.
In 1996 Rod Muir took over management and programming of 2SM with the intention of reviving the 2SM of the 1970s, denim logo and all. At that time rock historian Glenn A Baker wrote a media release with a decent history of the station that beautifully encapsulates all I have related here and more. There was a lot of goodwill for 2SM's revival, but it didn't work. FM radio was too entrenched, and times had changed.
Muir offloaded 2SM and moved on again. Today 2SM is part of the Super Radio Network with a mix of talk and music, but languishes at or close enough to the bottom of the Sydney radio ratings.
I'd like thank Wayne Mac, that walking encyclopaedia of Australian radio history, for finding my 2SM page back in 2002 when I launched it and loving it enough to offer help and advice. Since then the page has been getting bigger and better all the time thanks to a wonderful audience of fellow former 2SM junkies who've shared their treasures or pointed me in the direction of where to find them. You never know when something new will appear so keep checking in. If you have any memories or artifacts from the glory days of 2SM I'd love to hear from you, so drop me a line.
Because I have been receiving so much wonderful feedback, I have published it on the 2SM Feedback page. Check out what visitors to my 2SM page have had to say. Not only have prime movers like Ian MacRae, Jaan (John) Torv and Ian Grace written in to give their insight, but also some of the jocks including George Moore, Mike Gibson, John Carroll, Mark Smith, (the Hon) Nick Jones and even the elusive Alan Steele have written in to say hi, as have news men Steve Liebmann and Steve Blanda. Plus several of the behind-the-scenes 2SM staffers engineers, producers, admin staff have offered their recollections. And of course I've heard from many former 2SM junkies like me.
Some people want to know more about Mad Mel, the Good Guys, and the period in the sixties and earlier seventies that preceded my time as a 2SM junkie. Others were big fans or, like Ian Grace, contributors of Rock of the 80s. But that was after my time. I am very specific that the time I pay tribute to on these pages is the time I was listening to the station, mainly from 1975 to 1982. So please don't give me too hard a time if I don't focus outside those years.
In most cases as I have told the story of these golden years at 2SM, I have relied on my memory as a listener and fan, that's all. Since launching the site in 2002 I have uncovered more information, corrected some things I had wrong, and am always fact-checking and asking the DJs (whose own memories tend to be fuzzy) what they remember about this or that. If you see something here that you think I have wrong, please let me know.
Every email I have received is fascinating reading and while, ten years on (as I update this page in 2012), I am slower to add feedback emails to the page or to reply personally to all the emails, I am appreciative of every single person that takes the time to look at my site and write in to share their thoughts and memories with me. Thanks and keep the feedback coming!
(Yep, you can hear this promo, too. Click the logo.)
Even better - check out yet another fantastic video clip!
This 2SM online shrine became just a bit more famous in March 2004 when I was interviewed for The Guide. Click here to see a copy of the article.
The excellent Milesago website has a detailed page on 2SM here. It borrows extensively from my glorious page but also provides some good historical information about the station before and after the period I celebrate.
For a less detailed but also enjoyable rundown of other radio and music television that has inspired me through my life, check out my Australian Music and Media page.
Then you can find out about my own humble on-air efforts on my BAY-FM page.
If you want to connect with other former 2SM junkies, and some of the jocks who like their social media, head on over to the 1270 2SM group on Facebook.
And how about liking the 2SM web shrine so all your friends on Facebook or your other favourite social media sites can find out about it too. Spread the word, let everyone enjoy the memory of the best-ever radio station!