Memories of 2UE Sydney
Author: Tom Crozier
Hi! My name is Tom Crozier, long retired from commercial radio in
Australia but still interested in the business.
2UE 'Technically Tops' 1952
© Broadcasting, Cleve Costello Collection, Radio Heritage Foundation.
A friend of mine forwarded your "long-lost radio stars" of January
10th this year to me. Maybe you have gone past that by now, but many
of the names on the list were well-known to me, from my period at 2UE
Sydney in 1949/51, and then a 20-year stint with the same station
You ask for any stories about these people. I have fond memories of
many of them - not-so-fond memories of others - a minority. Here are
three from the 1949/51 years.
First comes ERIC WRIGHT, 2UE breakfast announcer who started his
program at 6am each day with a recording of the song "Start the Day
Right" (of course). Every one of his listeners was a "pal" or "gal",
and when it came to a special kids' spot each day it was "Li'l Pals
and Li'l Gals".
Eric had a great deal of difficulty waking up each day, so much so
that his wife organised an alarm clock in a tin can to ensure that he
wouldn't be late for work. The radio station also gave instructions
to the taxi driver who picked him up each morning to ring the
doorbell until there was evidence of life. He always made it by 6am,
but who wouldn't in those circumstances?
His was a really old-fashioned show. There was a brass band spot, a
Louie Armstrong spot, a hit of the day spot - and so it went on.
While he was doing his busy show, he found time to train would-be
announcers, who would come into the studio - probably without the
knowledge of the management - and got real experience on the panel by
working it to air.
Most of these hopefuls made it into the business. One of them, Graham
Bunyan, became the Macquarie principal news reader in the days when
it was really big time, taking over from James Dibble when he left to
become the ABC's main evening newsreader on their new fangled
television station. Another named Ron Camplin eventually gave away
announcing in favour of owning radio stations.
Hold that Lift!! At 9 o'clock, Eric would race for the lift so he
could get over to AWA or some other recording shop where he would
spend the rest of the morning doing voice-overs. He also ran a
suburban lunchtime variety show once a week at Eastwood, Sydney. It
wasn't part of his job - it was another Wright enterprise. If any of
us made the horrible mistake of going to see what it was like, we'd
get hauled onto the stage to make a contribution.
Later, Eric went to 2KY where he told me that it was "just great" -
you get to free-lance on your own station".
One of the other names that brought back memories was TONY McFAYDEN.
Tony had come from Victorian country radio and was the "Chief Night
Announcer". While himself not always a terribly cheerful cherub, he
came across as happy-go-lucky through the simple stratagem of smiling
at the microphone just as the operator switched it on.
The first announcement he would have to do each evening after Rumpus
Room with Howard Craven finished on the time pips. "This is Radio 2UE
Sydneeeey. McWilliams Wines announce the time as ---- 6 o'clock". The
last two words were spoken in an almost triumphant shout. It became
quite a saying among the younger staff members.
I remember walking one of the panel operators around Central Station
in Sydney after a Christmas Party in order to help him get fit enough
to go home. He persisted in saying, in true Tony McFayden style "This
is Radio 2UE Sydneyite. McWilliams Wines announce the time as ---- 6
o'clock". This, without ceasing for about an hour. Amusing for the
travellers, but not for the good Samaritan.
HEATH BURDOCK was 2UE's main newsreader from the time commercial
stations were permitted to run their own news services after several
years of carrying the official ABC news. The owners of 2UE were also
the proprietors of the Sydney Sun afternoon newspaper, and they
figured that if they were to run their own news, it'd better be good.
So they got hold of Heath, who had been the ABC's principal
newsreader throughout those years.
Heath had a healthy sense of humour - and just as well. We had a
control room operator named Bill Adams who was a great practical
joker. He would spend hours planning a way to induce announcers to
burst into laughter. Little gags like setting fire to the copy just
at the start of an item didn't work. Heath would hand the burning
paper to Bill and end the item with "... furher news is expected".
Bill's "piece de resistance" required careful setting up, and the
co-operation of an off-duty panel operator. When Heath arrived to
read the 7pm "country news"- the main 2UE news went to air at 6:45 -
he found that the usual set-up had been changed. The desk had been
placed in the middle of the room, and the microphone was hanging by
a cord from a hook in the ceiling. There was a step ladder apparently
left here by accident. However, the set of chimes used to tell some
of the relay stations to resume their own program were sitting on the
desk as usual.
Heath soon found out that this was going to be a different evening.
As he started the bulletin, he noticed that the microphone was slowly
but surely moving in short bursts toward the ceiling. Heath lifted
his face so he was still talking to the microphone, but in about a
minute, he had to stand up to get near the microphone. It was then
he realised what the step ladder was for. He put his foot on the
bottom step, only to note that the microphone was still heading
celingwards. So he followed it, never breaking the continuity.
There came the time when the news script required the chime on the
table be hit. Heath headed downwards, and found that the microphone
followed him to pick up the sound, then moved quickly back to the
ceiling. He moved back onto the step ladder and completed the news,
without even a smile in his voice. But when he read the last line -
"That completes this news bulletin read by Heath Burdock", a Chinese
gong at the back of the studio miraculously struck itself with a
mighty muffled "clunk".
This was the last straw. Heath could take no more. He broke out into
loud laughter - he couldn't hold it back any more. He found out later
that there was no likelihood of that bulletin going out to the relay
stations - they got a recording of the 6:45 bulletin.
How did Bill do it all? A complicated series of pulleys, set up in
the hallway outside and a couple of mirrors angled so he could see
what was happening. The panel operator who worked in a separate room
and made sure the country stations got the right bulletin was Don
Neilly, who many years later was Manager of McNair Anderson, the
major radio survey organisation in Australia.
(This story has been told many times, and in differing ways. I was
there as duty announcer).
Listen to Tom Crozier at ScreenSound Australia.
"Tom recalls his first broadcast when he was 16 at 2KA and his first job at 2GZ Sydney studios before moving to 2KM, where he helped promote Slim Dusty's career.
Tom also worked at 2LT Lithgow, 2LM Lismore and 2UE Sydney. At 2LM he worked as assistant station manager.
In later years he became increasingly involved with sales and marketing at 2WL, 2KM and 2UE before becoming involved with the Radio Marketing Bureau and more recently with 2RPH."