A Top Night at the Ark
Saturday, September 26th about 150 people who used to populate the Top Room at the Arkaba on a regular basis, returned for the first time in a while, and for some for the first time in a very long while. The reason for venturing out, the 35 Anniversary of SAFM (with the focus on the Paul Thompson years 1980 – 1995).
Many came from interstate for the occasion while Bernie Britain and Age McCann made the long trek from USA to attend the night.
It was the first time a reunion of its kind has been held.
The atmosphere was set with music from the early years of SAFM with a dip of the lid to SSA.FM (the original call sign) and an AV presentation featuring publicity shots, TV commercials, random staff photos, press and TV footage, etc. Jeez those people looked young.
As with all great music stations, stop downs were kept to a minimum. Grant Cameron, long time Morning Zoo member, delivered the show opener.
A heartfelt recollection of what it felt like to wake up a city that over time SAFM came to own. A reciprocated “zoomance” where the station loved the audience and the listeners loved them back. He paid tribute to John ‘Vinnie’ Vincent and David ‘Daisy’ Day two larger than life larrikins who weaved themselves into the fabric of Adelaide…. some nights featuring a lot of weaving and fabric not so much. (Sadly both are no longer with us Adelaide and radio are poorer for their passing).
Grant recalled the joy of playing music that up until that point while popular had not been heard much on the radio and thrill of playing new tracks passionately curated by Bill Page
The set up for the benchmark feature came from Bill Page, a humorous comparison of the only three bosses he has had in his long career Lewis Bennett (3UZ) Paul Thompson and Michael Gudinski (Mushroom)and his tongue in cheek recounting of his involvement in early research studies for the station. Plus, a personal perspective on programming music on what was a unique and innovative FM music station.
Then came the ‘spike in the hour’ Paul Thompson. He talked about the three eras of SAFM. The original station as a stand-alone starting in Adelaide the second the first Austereo the expansion years and the second Austereo the duopoly years (Today and Triple M networks). Among the laundry list of amazing achievements. Paul recalled a few unique and pivotal moments that the staff could be proud of like the idea of the station being ‘listener driven’, the concept of an 80 song current playlist in a time when most Adelaide stations had 30 odd, the introduction of Skyshow with 80,000 people in attendance, where local experts had predicted no more than 5000 would turn up and its ultimate transition to Sydney where today it is thecentrepoint of that city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. The campaign that forced the building of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Paul also made reference that the 50th anniversary will be in 2030. He’ll be 86 years old then and said he has every intention to attend that reunion.
A quick winner’s call with the presentation of a brick irreverently acquired from the demolition of the original studio’s in Greenhill Rd presented by Andrew Peters and Helen Moyes (the originator of the name Austereo)
Next up Bernie Brittain, a special guest all the way from Los Angeles. Bernie who during his time with the company had been famous for his ability to do impressions of every senior executive in the company reeled off a cameo ‘PT’.
Last Sean Craig Murphy took the crowd back to 90’s the era that saw SAFM successfully osmose to a pop format
In the early hours as the crowd struggled down the stairs and into the street we reflected on the great camaraderie, the great music, great times, the special bond… Well that’s our memory of it