After the closure of the offshore stations in the UK, some continuity announcing on the ITV network and a little bit of work on the BBC on Radio 2, I returned in 1968 back home to Australia, staying for 5 years.
Just after I came back I met up with Sydney jock Phil Haldeman, who I had known when he was Tech op for Tony Withers/Windsor at 2SM in the 50s. As an ex British offshore DJ, he invited me to join him as a guest on a charity telethon one Saturday on Channel 7 TV. I was auctioned off by Athol Guy of the Seekers fame for a massive one dollar!
After a bit of news reading in the city, the first full time station back down under was 3BO in Bendigo, Victoria which was part of the AWA network. Alf Skoen the manager and I discussed the fact that it did’t really make much sense to keep my British offshore name of Ian Damon, as in reality nobody knew me as that in Australia anyway, so I switched back to Ian Davidson.
I did the weekday breakfast show mainly, but also some Saturday afternoons. Here is a clip of my last Saturday show at 3BO (taken straight from the panel). Yes we very may well have borrowed some Big L Jingles from the reel I made on the last night I was onboard the Galaxy, copying all the on air carts in studio 2 one by one…
After a short time at 3BO, I was off to the Macquarie Broadcasting Network to be the breakfast announcer at 2WL in Wollongong, NSW – 50 miles from Sydney. My wife Janice joined me from England and we lived in the city for a few years.
Essentially 2WL had much more of a community all service radio feel than top 40 and apart from the Sydney stations, which could be received with a good radio albeit not as clear, it didn’t really have much live competition during the day. It also had a massive signal all down the coast, as the transmitter was in the Illawarra valley in an old swamp. That meant that during the day and at even more at breakfast the station had a captive audience and the most commercials I’ve ever had in a single show (sometimes over 25 minutes an hour, including live reads) which, with all the different audio sources, proved to be a busy self tech op job. Here’s a clip of one breakfast show I did to hear for yourself:
Whilst in Wollongong I also did some announcing on WIN-4 TV in the city, eventually moving to be full time there hosting the main weekly Sunday review news programme. During this time I remember having to be the standby guy in full make up and suit when the moon landing was taking place, in case it fell off air! Sadly (or thankfully depending on your point of view) no film of me doing work to camera seems to exist today!
Next I was back up to Sydney to work for the AWA Network again at 2CH (joining Phil Haldeman who by then was breakfast announcer and a member of the “Snob Mob”). While there I worked on sales, read the news, did some some overnights and I hosted the Sunday stream of programmes for the NSW Council of Churches.
Here is a quick snippet of me reading the news and my last 2CH Saturday ‘midnight to yawn’ programme:
AWA then asked me to head up to North Queensland and the state’s second city Townsville, to be the weekday breakfast announcer at 4TO.
While at the station I also helped to compile and read the news, produced many of the station’s commercials and did a number of outside broadcasts while wearing the standard very Australian tie, short sleeve shirt and shorts with long socks – ideal for the tropics!
I kept a couple of tape reels from my time the station, here are some clips including parts of some shows and local adverts I made while there.
My son Bruce was born in the city in 1973, the arrival was announced on air with ex Big-L jock Norman St. John’s Saturday show. After a few months, Janice and I decided to come back to the UK, not only so she could be nearer her parents but for me awaiting the start of of Independent Local Radio.
On arrival, I went to meet the Capital Radio team (after being introduced by ex Big-L jock Dave Cash) but positions had already been filled by the time I got back to England. So via contacts I got a job working for Southern Television in London for a few months, until such time in 1974 I could get back into my first love – radio!
onto Capital Radio