Jim Mortimer – SAFM 35 year reunion Part 3

Last September, a collection of some of the finest Australian radio minds celebrated the 35 year anniversary of SAFM as reported on Radio Today here

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, Jim walked us through the montage of archival audio he put together for the years 1980 – 1984 and 1984-1989.

Before we dive into the next audio montage – years 1990 – 1995, I asked Paul Thompson, what he recalls of the early days of SAFM.

Paul Thompson:

The recurring reality, and often frustration of those creating history is that they are so engrossed in the process of its creation that there is no time, energy or foresight to  record these events with accuracy or at all.

This is why Jim Mortimer’s audio reflection of the birth and evolution of SAFM is significant.  And why I was pleased to be part of SAFM’s 35th Anniversary Reunion last year.

I have been more than fortunate to be associated with the launch of so many new radio stations in both regional and metropolitan towns and cities over a number of years.  All were unique and have an important place in radio history but two, in my radio life, had exceptional significance.

One was Nova Sydney which, coincidentally, has its 15th anniversary this week.

The other was SAFM.

As Jim’s tape conveys, many of the initial SAFM elements were ephemeral…aggressive promotion of FM’s benefits over AM, for example, had relevance only to a moment in time.

But other innovations…Skyshow, music research, the Black Thunder concept…were radio cornerstones for years, nationally and in some cases internationally.      Long time SAFM Breakfast Jock John Vincent was the author of the Black Thunder name which was used in many countries.   He didn’t get a cent in royalties!

And SAFM was the birthplace of Austereo.

Thank you, Jim, for taking the time to record history.

Paul Thompson

The historic photo (above) is the first is of the initial eleven staff at SAFM in 1980.  We called them Thompson’s 11…hence the cricket symbolism with the bats, ball and pads.

They are, from back left:  Bill Page Music Director,  Sally McIntyre Record Librarian, Colin Harman Technician, Jeff Warden Program Director, David Cox Technician, Brian Bickmore Finance/ Company Secretary.

Front row: Rick Wheeler Sales Manager, Des DeCean Chief Engineer, Paul Thompson, Michele Kennedy PA, Phill Stewart Creative Director.

Photo Above: Greg Rees Sports, Chris McDermott then Captain of the Adelaide Crows, Greg Anderson Crows player, Trevor Smith the Rock n Roll Roadie.

Front: Sean Murphy Jock,  not sure about , Adam Hills.

Now back to our interview with Jim Mortimer.

Daryl: Jim, talk us through this next montage…

Jim M: The early 90s was a challenging time for Austereo and SAFM.  In its 10th year it was no longer the only FM commercial player, with KAFM launching on New Year’s Day 1990, and 102FM  launched in September 1990 targeting older FM listeners. At the younger end Triple J came to Adelaide.   Economically it was tough too, with the collapse of the SA State Bank and the national recession taking their toll on advertiser confidence. In 1992, a group of former SAFM announcers and staff were poached and launched X102 – a direct SAFM targeted rock station. In 1993 this threat was eventually seen off by SAFM and X102 closed, with its signal simulcasting AM station 5AD.  Having two established radio stations broadcasting the same program turned out to be a major advantage and 5AD began to beat SAFM or the first time in a decade.

Meanwhile KAFM was being sold to Village Roadshow, who at that time were Austereo’s main competitor. KA bought the 5 Triple M callsign from a local public station, and thereby completed the Village Roadshow National Triple M network in January 1994. Within a year though, the Austereo and Village networks had merged.

I was still living in Cairns and preparing to launch Hot FM. But I began to visit Adelaide more frequently each year to aircheck what was happening in this ever changing market. There was so much to listen to, and so many great national stars of the future were coming through SAFM’s doors.  Local mutli-person night time shows, local weekend shows, big teams on breakfast shows, stars, cars, cash and concert giveaways.

There was a lot to cram into this short montage of SAFM in the early 90s. Apologies to the many great people who didn’t make it into this audio set.

Here is the track list: 1990 – 1995:

  • 30 mins of R&R sweeper with movie grabs – Ray McGregor
  • Bernie Brittain 107 Card cash and morning reaction line plug
  • David Day introduces a ‘thunder storm’ 4 street crosses from the Black Thunders  incl thunder pilots Greg Messenger, Clayton, Adam and Mike Evans 1991.
  • Hot 10 Dec 1991 James O’Neill and Irene K, Kate Economou
  • 1992 Skyshow 8 promo
  • 1992 Scott McBain Morning Crew promo
  • 1992 Adelaide Grand Prix after race concert promo
  • Dec 1992 John Vincent and a caller with a joke about Morning Crew
  • SAFM 1 million dollars of work promo – Ray McGregor
  • SAFM Gulf War News 1993 – David Bruce
  • WOMADelaide 1993 SAFM promo voiced by Scott McBain
  • 1993 Sean Craig Murphy nights intro
  • 1994 Adelaide’s Best Rock promo
  • 1994 Adam Hills breakfast promo with Flacco
  • 1994 Jason Stevely and Zoe Sheridan  – Night time Revolution
  • 1994 or 1995 Steve Bedwell breakfast with Craig Bruce
  • Adelaide Life In The Summertime jingle summer 1995.

A special thanks to Jim Mortimer for not only taking the time to share his story but to allow us to hear this unique historical and at the time, ground breaking audio footage of what was a pivotal time in Australian Radio.

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