Partners In Crime: Grubby & Dee
Peter “Grubby” Stubbs and Diane “Dee Dee” Dunleavy have been part of each other’s lives and part of the Melbourne radio scene for almost 30 years.
Thrown together in 1988 as part of the Fox Morning Crew, they enjoyed 10 years at 101.9, before moving across the dial to Gold FM. They hosted the breakfast show for 13 years before controversially being given the flick in 2011.
Now happily working weekends at 3AW, the pair reflects on their friendship, their partnership and making good radio with each other.
Both admit it wasn’t exactly ‘love at first sight’ and it took a while to develop a rapport.
Grubby: We were literally thrown together. She was at Fox, and I was at 3XY. XY was going adult-contemporary; trying something that was never going to work.
I’d had a call from Fox, and I was a bit in awe of going over there. The XY Zoo was a bit of a part-time job, and I had very little idea of what I was doing.
I met Dee Dee, and it was a rather uncomfortable few months. I think my assertiveness was probably taken as arrogance on her behalf, which didn’t endear her to me very much.
But then all of a sudden, we blossomed into great friends. She said something nice one day, and I thought ‘oh yeah, she’s not a bad girl after all’ and away we went.
What grew out of their professional time together was a deep and affectionate friendship.
Dee Dee: We’re very close, and we feel linked. We do have this weird yin and yang balance in our lives. I’m sure there are radio duos, who walk away at the end of their shifts and have nothing to so with each other.
That’s not to say that Grubby and I socialise all the time because we don’t. But we ring each other once or twice a week just for a chat, which is crazy because you’d think we’d have enough of each other on the weekend!
Grubby: We’re really good friends, who have great respect and we have each other’s back. It works well knowing that there’s someone that you can trust implicitly; whether you’re on or off-air. There’s always someone to catch you when you’re falling.
Given how close they are in ‘real life’, there is an assumption that the friendship has crossed the line into something ‘more’. It’s an assumption that amuses them both.
Grubby: We talk about intimate stuff without doing intimate stuff, if you get my drift. I think we’ve put genders aside. She often describes me as a girlfriend with a penis.
But all jokes aside, a lot of people have said ‘oh, you must have slept together at some stage’. No, we never have.
I think she’s lovely and gorgeous, and I’m proud to be seen with her, but it’s never been that sort of relationship.
Dee Dee: I don’t want to be glib, because everyone says it’s like marriage without the sex, but we’re both in long-term marriages and happily married to our partners. So it’s never been anything near a romantic relationship.
We’re just two people, and it doesn’t matter if we’re male or female. We’re just two people who think alike on a lot of things and are ferociously proud of how loyal we are to each other.
That loyalty made them formidable when it came to contract negotiations and their dealings with management. They both got the same deals, and there was never any thought that one deserved more than the other.
Dee Dee: The beauty of our working relationship is that he and I have been ‘solid’ with all that stuff. Without question, I know that he has my back 100% and I have his, and we will always protect each other.
Grubby: When they (Gold) told us that our contracts weren’t going to be renewed, they then offered me drive. The first thing I said was ‘with or without Dee Dee’, and they said ‘without’. I just walked out. I think I said ‘no thanks’ in an impolite way.
That was their level of understanding of our relationship. I wouldn’t work without her in those circumstances. I would have lost one of my best friends. The audience would have thrown rocks at me. It would have been the end.
Despite a career mostly in FM radio, Grubby and Dee Dee have transitioned to talk-back on 3AW, working the weekends during the footy off-season. It’ a challenge both enjoy.
Dee Dee: With the Weekend Break Show, we’re on-air for six hours on both Saturday and Sunday. You think of your friends. Do you sit opposite for six hours and talk? No one does that!
But, I’ve opened myself up a whole lot more, and you need to in talk back. The hardest thing for me was having an opinion that may not be popular and to even argue with people – something we weren’t given the room to do in FM breakfast. It’s a whole new territory, and I’m feeling the freedom to express myself
But let’s not pump ourselves up. We do not have to come up with 12-hours of talk all by ourselves. We have contributors who bring in topics, and we have a brilliant producer; Jessie Aiton, whose father Doug is one of the greats of radio.
Grubby: We had great periods at other radio stations. The first few years at Gold were fantastic. But then we were constantly being told to do things by a large man in a black t-shirt, who’d never done it himself or failed at it.
But at AW, they’ve said ‘you’re the guys with 60 odd years of experience between you. Go and do it, do it well. Hope the listeners like you, and we’ll see you later.
And we love that because we’re each other’s biggest critics as well and you can’t slacken off. You just can’t.
As one of the longest on-air relationships in radio, Grubby and Dee Dee acknowledge a comfortable chemistry and a deep understanding built over many years.
Grubby: As far as working with someone else, I could not do it. It just wouldn’t feel right. I’d be thinking ‘oh God, this is a bit weird. Where’s Dee Dee? When’s she going to come through the door and break this up’?
Every time I see her, I feel happy. I think ‘here’s fun, here we go. We’re here to have fun. This is good’. I just light up.
Dee Dee: I think if we weren’t working together, we’d be two people who’d be very good friends. And I’m happy with brother-sister. I think that’s probably the closest to what my feelings are. And in radio, you do have to know the person beyond who they are when they walk into the studio.