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On the radio news front
There are a lot of New shows in 2013
bare with me as I endeavour to get some more samples added as we already have 2UE and a few others if you have a contribution let me know, we can share it
to pay tribute to one of the pioneers of commercial radio in Australia the late Rhett Hamilton Walker
here’s Wayne Macs Facebook article illuminating reading
To mark the passing of Rhett Walker here’s a thumbnail sketch about key moments in his life and times in radio which may be of interest to members of this group. I gathered this information in the early 2000s when researching his background.Rhett was a stand in host at least once on Johnny O’Keefe’s “Six O’clock Rock” in 1959 when JOK was recording in the USA. 2SM’s Alan Lappan also acted as a stand in. At the time Rhett was a budding singer with a cover version of “Cincinnati Fireball”. See graphic. He was also a DJ on 2UW where he was boldly promoted as ‘RW on UW.’ That didn’t last long as UW jettisoned Top 40 music in 1960. Rhett then appeared briefly on 3UZ as their ‘Teen Idol’. Following UZ I believe he lived in the United States for some years.
Rhett returned to Australia as the architect of 3DB’s ‘The Big DB’ magazine style format in 1969. When he turned up at 3AK the following year he instigated an Australian produced jingle package (rare in those days) ’1500 Friendly 3AK’ and later, while all the other leading pop stations across the country belting out power acapellas from PAMS and Big Band brass sounds from TM and Pepper-Tanner, Rhett commissioned Brian Cadd to produce a thumping, pumping set of rock ids featuring the unmistakable vocals of Doug Parkinson, Linda George and Cadd himself. This package underscored the reverb laden sound of 3AK…Where No Wrinklys Fly.
‘No Wrinkys’ was in fact an advertising concept designed to draw attention to the station’s emerging rock/pop format. I understand the concept was originally pitched to 3XY and when you think about how it rolls off the tongue, that’s entirely plausible.
During this period Rhett controlled AK’s sound like a man possessed. A friend who worked closely with Rhett told me of how he used to take the commercial logs and hand program the order of spots within the breaks. In his mind, everything had to be ‘just so’ on 3AK. Chances are he may have done same at 6PR during the superb “Gentle on Your Mind ” era. Others will know. Peter? Cherie?
Rhett was a fine details man, no question. I once saw a set of clocks he devised while consulting Brisbane’s 4BK around 77/78. I thought I’d seen a good variety of styles of formatics in my time but these things were pure art! Whether the average jock could have interpreted them remains a mystery. They were very intricate.
When Sir Frank Packer (then owner of 3AK) wanted his station to move in a new direction, circa ’73 due to the strong presence in the pop market from 3XY, Rhett explored gaps in the market then gave his recommendations to Packer. News Talk or Beautiful Music were the gaps he identified. He wisely chose the latter – based on cost and resources – and left soon after to head west, though AK achieved great success in their new format.
One time bitter rivals Rhett and Rod Muir teamed up briefly for the work previously mentioned at 4BK also at Wollongong’s 2OO during the set up of that station.
Rhett was the original GM of FOX FM. The early days of the station bear no resemblance to what it is today or even what it was after a few years on air. The whole approach on FOX was laid back, conversational presentation, eclectic music and the surprising addition of the 07:45 ABC news at breakfast. Apparently they were a commercial station chasing a ABC-type listener, so having the main ABC radio news ‘simulcast’ on FOX was to give listeners one less excuse to tune out. Assuming they were they in the first place. It wasn’t a rating success and FOX was Rhett’s final radio gig in Australia. It’s believed there were differences between him and the board on how the station should operate.
It’s well documented in other posts of his subsequent work in the academic sphere. These make for interesting reading if, for no other reason, to show us how Rhett the radio man reinvented himself. Important for those who decide that working in radio no longer fits their life goals.
As I’ve written elsewhere, Rhett was one of the first players to become a real mover and shaker as an Australian program director. And when you think about it there has only been a few exceptional PDs since in terms of widespread influence and innovation. It’s one of the reasons we remember him today.
Vale Rhett Hamilton Walker.
The Industry publication “Jocks Journal” has an always informative website http://www.newmedia.com.au/main.html
Latest uploads include:
- 4IP The Ultimate Stereo Promotion from 1975 with Gary Suprain and Jim Pike
- FM 104 Triple M A to Z of classic rock with Rod Field
- KOFM Steve “G’s” Rush Hour
- I am always on the lookout for older stuff from the 70′s particularly, if you can help check the about page here where you can now upload airchecks in wav or mp3 format