What is it like to be a radio announcer?
Remember cheeky John Blackman from Hey Hey It’s Saturday? These days you can hear Blackman on radio on Magic 1278.
His Magic 1278 colleague Gareth McCray OAM, is a former teacher based on the Central Coast near Terrill Beach which he calls “a little touch of paradise”. McCray is currently juggling doing a Doctorate with his on air duties.
Q. What is life like when you are a radio announcer?
John: Constantly sleep deprived (a bit like permanent jetlag). Alarm set for 3.40am each morning and arrive at Magic at 4.40am. Prepare show, broadcast from 6am to 10am, then from 10am to 11am sign autographs for adoring fans waiting outside studio. Go home, check emails for any corporate and voice over requests, play golf occasionally, mess around until dinner, retire at 10pm. I live in Camberwell with my gorgeous wife Cecile and beautiful 41 year-old daughter Tiffany.
Q. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
John: Be nice to people on the way up because you know you’ll meet them on the way down.
Gareth: I was told by a very wise high school teacher many years ago that it’s easy to pick out people’s faults. We subconsciously keep track of all the flaws of all the people in our lives. Whether someone is vain, self-centred, arrogant, petty, bitter, or obnoxious. We can easily slap a label on every person we meet. However she told me to find the good in everyone. Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Q. What is the most common request as a radio announcer?
John: Get off! (only joking) How did I get into radio? Can I play a favourite song?
Gareth: It’s either – “can you play this for me” or “who is the most famous person you have ever interviewed” – for me it was His Holiness Pope John Paul II who I spent two weeks with as the publicist for the beautification of Mother Mary MacKillop.
Q. What are your favourite feel good songs?
John: Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks and You’re a Lady by Peter Skellern - played on radio everywhere in 1972 when Cecile and I were honeymooning in Manly in Sydney.
Gareth: Bob Carlisle Butterfly Kisses.
Q. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t on radio?
John: Riding my bicycle daily, playing golf, watching golf, football, cricket and tennis.
Gareth: I enjoy doing my routine with Karate for the past 25 years. I enjoy spending time helping out in my local community and spending time with my children.
Q. What are your favourite musical memories?
John: Falling asleep with jetlag in the front row of an ACDC concert in Melbourne after just getting back from an overseas trip.
Gareth: In the 1970’s spending two weeks with Led Zeppelin as my father’s company did the Security – it was awesome! Also, seeing The Beach Boys, 10CC, Led Zeppelin; Billy Joel, Back Sabbath, Stevie Wonder, John Denver live – the list is too long!
Q. John, what are your favourite memories of being on Hey Hey It’s Saturday?
John: A trip to Hollywood in the 1990’s, meeting Chevy Chase, taking the mickey out of Molly Meldrum – the laughter – the camaraderie, actually getting paid to have fun with your mates!
Q. How did you get involved with Hey Hey It’s Saturday?
John: Back in 1971, I got a job announcing on Saturday mornings between 6am and midday. That’s where I met Daryl and struck up a professional and personal friendship that has stood the test of time for over 45 years. I see Daryl (Somers) occasionally and Wilbur (Wilde) often – he’s my golfing buddy. Red and Russell (Gilbert) hardly ever although I see Livinia (Nixon) every night – when she’s presenting the weather on Channel 9.
Q. Gareth, you are a former teacher. How did you make the leap from teacher to radio announcer?
Gareth: Teaching the Higher School Certificate English course I found that one of the aspects was understanding the media. I had plenty of theoretical experience but no practical. I wanted to broaden my knowledge so I rang radio 2CH and asked could I come in and observe – they said yes. While I was there the then manager – a brilliant man – Chris Brammall got talking to me and before I knew it he offered me a job and here I am some 30+ years later still enjoying sharing my love of life with a wonderful family of listeners. The moment we stop learning we stop living. I love discovering new things and understanding things I have never come to grips with in the past.
I am also working on a Doctorate. Still progressing slowly as work keeps getting in the way but I am look at the use of imagery in the works of my favourite author Charles Dickens. It only enhances my love of life and learning and hopefully it enriches my skills as a broadcaster!
Q. Gareth, you received a OAM for your services to Radio, Education and the Community on Australia Day 2015. How did it feel to be honoured in such a wonderful way?
Gareth: It was one of the great moments in my career to know that what I was doing was making a difference in the lives of so many others. It also made me appreciate the help that so many other people gave me in enriching the lives of others. We are a family and no one person does it all – it is a group achievement.
What do you like listening to on radio? Join the conversation below.
Written by Editor. Republished with permission of Wyza.com.au.