Location: New South Wales, Australia
Date: 1978-1979

Posted December 2010

When I arrived at 2GB in Sydney, and spoke to Barry Augustus, he told me that he was impressed by the fake ads I'd included in my ABC demo tape. WHAT??? I thought I was a applying for an on-air shift. Ads? So he asked me to write a couple of scripts for a brand of coffee, and then showed me to a vacant office nearby. "You can write the scripts in there." But I declined. I wouldn't feel comfortable in a strange office, so I told him I'd go to the pub across the road instead, The Criterion, and write the ads over there. He gave me a pen and writing pad and off I went. Two beers later, I'd written a couple of scripts and took them back to Augustus.

I offered to type them but he said they were okay as they were, and hired me. I went back to the ABC in Kempsey and resigned. It was cool. The boss quickly found a replacement in Sydney, Tony Langshaw, my old colleague from the 2KY days who had described that station as "the cream of Sydney radio". Hehe. Kempsey was in for a major culture shock with Langers at the mic. Actually, the ABC's covereage area was much bigger than Kempsey. It stretched from Grafton in the north all the way down to the Great Lakes and Taree in the south (where I live now).

That's a pic from the web. The elevated mono-rail wasn't there in '78. The corner building is where the 2GB studios are still housed on one of the upper floors. The curved building across the road far left was where the old Criterion pub was.

The red brick building just to the left of 2GB housed a Spanish restaurant, which is where my former ABC boss treated me to lunch one day when he visited Sydney. He told me that the local ratings had just been released. In the 6 months I was there, I lifted the ratings from 10% to 40% of the total listening audience on the north and mid north coasts. Not too shabby!

Meanwhile, I was installed as 2GB's Creative Director, responsible for writing and producing all the commercial content. But I also read news, did voice overs, and a bit of this and that... including being a regular at the Criterion. Very regular. I became great friends with Maz, the lady in charge of the scheduling department. She always called material instructions "tamerial instructions". She was a hoot, and very good looking, I might add, tall, with prominent breasts and long hair. But ours was a strictly platonic relationship. It suited both of us.

For a while, I lived in a flat at Ashfield, sharing with Kurt's by now ex-girlfriend who had also come to Sydney to work for the stock exchange. The flat was strewn with real estate ads and brochures. She was in the market to buy a house.

One of 2GB's advertisers was a real estate company that specialized in buying old run-down inner-city houses for chicken feed, renovating them and then selling them. Inspired by Kurt's girlfriend's interest in buying a house, I asked the advertiser if I qualified. After all, I'd had a thousand jobs and lived in a million different places. "Yes, but you've been in the same industry all that time," he said. So I qualified.

The advertiser took me to Balmain and showed me a dump that fronted a narrow lane. "Why are we going in the back way?" I asked. "No, this is the front way." "Well, if that's the best you can show me," I said, " forget it." So he drove me to Hegarty Street, Glebe (pictured above). I fell in love with the old Victorian fireplaces and bought the little 19th century terrace for $31,000, which at the time I thought was a fortune. My deposit was my '69 Valiant. When I went back to the flat in Ashfield, I said to Kurt's ex-girlfriend, "I just bought a house." She was as stunned as I was. Hehe. It had all happened so quickly. 33 years later, that same house is worth $700,000.

UPDATE June 2011. My ex-neighbor in Glebe emailed me the other day to let me know that my old house in Hegarty St was back on the market after a makeover. It's expected to fetch around $800K. This is what it looks like now:

After about a year at 2GB, I heard that a bloke named Sommerville was about to be installed as manager. He was the dreariest, lamest person in the biz as far as I was concerned. So I phoned my ex-2GO boss, Keith Graham, who was now manager of Sydney's newest radio station 2WS out in the western suburbs and said, "Sommerville's coming to 2GB. You gotta get me outta here."

That's a pic of 2WS after the new studios were built back in the early '80s, sent to me by Kim Wilkinson, marketing manager. When I was there in '78/9, the offices and studios were housed in an old cottage. The announcers' rec room was a large caravan in the backyard. It was very basic to say the least. Anyway, I lasted 3 months. Driving from my little house in inner-city Glebe all the way to Seven Hills and back each day was too much. My dad was very ill in a nursing home at the time and my mother gave me his old Holden. It was a wreck. My dad had always been ultra fastidious about car maintenance but he was too old and frail now to bother. And I had no money.

I was one of a team of three writers at 2WS. The head writer was a tall, good-looking bloke who strutted around in cowboy boots all day but didn't really do much. However, he knew how to play the corporate ladder game and eventually landed a plum job with a leading Sydney advertising agency. I'm pretty sure it was run by John Singleton. The other guy was Jonathon Coleman who spent all day on the phone. He later became a roving TV reporter for an afternoon kid's show and eventually a most successful TV presenter in both the UK and Oz. He was a much better talker than writer. So there I was, humble and diligent little Gary pumping out copy on the manual Remington all day - the only one of the trio who did any work!

My immediate boss at 2GB had been Chris Maitland, sales manager, who had since moved to 2UE. He phoned me and said, "I'd like to buy you a beer at the Menzies at Wynyard in Sydney." Oh? So over a beer, we discussed my moving to 2UE as Creative Director, which is basically a flash title for someone who can type and throw a script together.

I resigned from 2WS. Keith Graham offered me more money but I explained that it was more to do with the long drive back and forth every day. He looked at me and said, "Now we're even." He still had the guilts about having sacked me back in Gosford. Meanwhile, my mother decided I didn't need the Holden anymore so she gave it to my niece who drove it into the side of a bus. She escaped injury but the old Holden was a write-off. 

Oooowaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! My bad old days imbibing at the Criterion have come back to haunt me. Yesterday, outta the blue, I received an email from Gregg Sinclair (above right): Hi Gary. We worked together at 2GB in the mid - late 70s. I was a Panel Operator. Drop me a line if you remember me. I'll forgive you if you don't, after all, it was over 35 years ago!!!

I answered, saying I couldn't remember him so he sent me his Facebook page where I got the above pic. He went on to say: I remember you'd been at 2GB about a week and asked me if I was gay. I said 'no', you said 'pity' ! Very funny. I've often wondered where your path took you. Last I heard you were at (I think) 2UE.

I asked him if he was gay? I don't remember that! How embarrassing! It must have been after a long lunch. No wonder he remembers me. Sheesh. I was worse than I thought. Anyway, Gregg is now married with a son: I'm familiar with your scrapbook. My son works at SEA fm/2GO and emailed me the link yesterday. That's how I got your address. He asked if I knew you. I said of course - and regaled him with the 'are you gay' line. I've been dining out on it for years!!

Well, that settles it. I'll have to move to another country.

Update from Gregg, December 6, 2010: Just a 'technical' point regarding the 2GB page. 2GB are no longer in the Sussex street building. They moved to Pyrmont in 2003 - not far from the Fish Markets. Great job on the scrapbook - very well written and soooo funny! I wish there were more guys like you still in the business. Thanks, Gregg, for such a sweet comment. You've made my day.


Scrapbook Part 10a
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