4 weeks of ACRA’s Finalists Fever 2012 #4

Staff Writer

There are thousands of hard-working, dedicated and amazingly creative people throughout the radio industry – and every year a small fraction of those people make the short list as a finalist in the ACRA's.

The Radio Today team think it's about time to shine a brighter spotlight on the best of the best.

See all the ACRA's fever so far here

Today in #4 we spotlight one of the Best Station Promotions, Adrian Renzi from Alice Springs, one of the 4 metro PD finalists and Triple M's 'The Grill Team', who are up for Best On-Air Team.


Gus Worland, Mark Geyer & Matty Johns
Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo

Gus, it’s an all Sydney finalist lineup for this category. If you win what’s the first thing you’ll do ? If you don’t win, what will you do ?

We are thrilled to be NOMINATED and in the final. Three years ago ‘The Grill Team’ was not even formed, MG and I had done no radio and Matty was a year away from joining us. We love the job, our listeners and the fabric that is MMM and we will celebrate long and hard no matter what the result is.

What are 2 of the most memorable moments from your show in the last 12 months ?

We are very lucky to have chatted to a lot of wonderful entertainers and people from Hulk Hogan to Slash, the PM, Hugh Jackman, Marky Mark Wahlberg, world champion boxers, olympians, paralympians, captains of Australia in Cricket, Rugby and Rugby League…its hard to pick one but if we had to…..it would be helping our friend Kristian Anderson and his beautiful family during his cancer fight and the family day we had in his honour at Luna Park with thousands of MMM listeners and their families having a ball together in his honour.

You can’t make a speech on the night but let’s pretend you’ve won, here’s a chance to have your moment in the spotlight (don’t forget to thank anyone)….go for it Gus…..

Thankyou to our LISTENERS…the best and most loyal in radio……we are also a tight team and would love to thank our boss Father O”Reilly, producers Sarah and Woody, the smartest man in radio and news Spoonman, JA, Timmy, Ange and Anna….u make work fun!!!!


96FM, Perth WA, Fairfax Radio Network

Tell us about your background…

Have always loved radio and music… always wanted a job where I could get free records…. Thought radio was the best place….

From Toronto Canada, worked at CFNY FM (The Edge) on the air and a few other stations around Toronto.

Been in radio here since the early 70’s….also worked at 3XY; Gold Melbourne, 92.9 (twice) Sea and Gold FM on the GC: Lived in Stockholm Sweden, was Group PD for Scandinavian Broadcasters who owned stations all over Europe, GM of 104 in Dublin Ireland, PD of Jazz FM London UK… and 96fm in Perth (about 4 times I think)

What are the 3 things you’re most proud of about your station ?

1.   Love the 96fm new brand and our authentic music position
2.   Really proud to be working with a team that is highly energised to win
3.   Our new production values that have changed the whole tone and vibe of the station.

or hear it here

Your speech, if you were able to make one…

96fm was once the great station in Perth and for the last decade was lost and dysfunctional. The GM was sacked and replaced then… it has been incredibly difficult during the time when Fairfax tried to sell the radio group. This meant everything was in limbo…no resources to do anything. I mean nothing!!! Its almost a herculean task to compete against Austereo and DMG with nothing.

It’s a cliché to thank the team. But the team here are positively focussed on re-building the radio station and making great radio everyday. My biggest influences in my career have been David Marsden in Toronto, who showed me how to be a creative broadcaster and Greg Smith who made me read the Art of War, Thick Face Black Heart and On War by Clausewitz!!… thanks Greg.


8HA, Alice Springs NT, Alice Springs Commercial Broadcasters

Give us a quick snapshot of your radio background…

I have been in the Radio caper since I was 14 having started in 1985 with Community Radio then Commercial Radio in 1989 in Mt Gambier.

For 20+ years I have a done a bit of everything, from Sales to Sports News, Talkback to Managing a Radio Station on the Atherton Tablelands.

Nothing matters like the thrill of covering News each day and bringing Talkback Radio to Outback Alice. Alice Springs for a small town is full of News and Local issues like no other.

This is your 4th nomination in this category ?
…so I will enjoy the party and who knows? I may be a 4 time loser! I wonder what the record is?

What are your key achievements over the past 12 months ?

We are a commercial radio station but very much community based so I was thrilled to be able to do at least one great thing for the Community each month. Fundraising for Cancer, Helping out a Backpacker who had a horrible experience in town by providing fuel to keep travelling around the country, these sorts of things.

We can always do more and this year I am planning a Special Souls Christmas Party for some who are down on their luck or have lost a job etc.

Your speech, if you were able to make one…

Every morning I wake up nice and early and through the wonders of the internet I can hear some of the greatest broadcasters on offer. Alan Jones on 2GB, Ross and John on 3AW, Keith Conlan and John Keneally on 5AA, then the other talents kick in like Ray Hadley, Neil Mitchell, Greg Carey, Paul Murray and on we go in the talkback world.

In my 5 short years doing talkback in Alice I have taken a little bit from each and every one of these Announcers and have tried to make a program that would stand up under the highest scrutiny from the toughest judges.

It seems I finally got something right.


Fitzy, Wippa, Tom Ivey & the Nova Integration Team
Nova, Sydney NSW, dmg radio australia


The concept

One day back in June, Wippa mentioned on-air that he’d done a building course… and since he had so much building experience, he could probably build a catapult.

Not just any catapult, a medieval catapult… one that could throw a car. Knowing he can’t even wash his own clothes, Fitzy challenged him to do it – and so the idea of the catapult began. As did the 18 hour days and negotiations on tones of steel.

Wippa quickly branded himself as ‘Captain Catapult’… and, knowing there was no way he could do it himself, he looked to Nova listeners for help. He sketched a drawing of how the Catapult could look, put it online and asked the nation to join him in creating this car throwing structure.

The original plan was to build a catapult, get a car, throw it and sit back and marvel in all its glory in the space of a few weeks.

What happened was far greater than anyone could’ve hoped for… creating endless opportunities for engaging content and resulting not only in a Guinness World Record, but also in a significant ratings increase across the country.

The name

Once the boys launched the idea they decided they needed a name for it.

Suggestions like The Novanator, The Car-To-Pault and The Massive Tosser flowed in… but there was one stand out.

Bob Katter had just launched his own Australian Party. Fitzy & Wippa wanted to launch the Catapult. It was a match made in heaven and an instant decision – it was to be called Fitzy & Wippa’s Bob Katterpult!

Stickers saying ‘I survived the Bob Katterpult’ were created and the Nova website was instantly branded with Bob Katterpult all over it.

The ‘time in between’

From the day Wippa first mentioned the idea to the day of the actual throw and world record attempt, it took nearly three months of behind the scenes work to make the attempt possible.

Two engineering companies looked into our attempt and advised that the catapult would not be possible. It took a month of perseverance before we finally came across Partridge Partners – who not only believed it was possible, but also that we were actually a shot at breaking the Guinness World Record for The Most Powerful Trebuchet.

After a lengthy consultation, Partridge Partners also let us know that we’d need the following (amongst other things) to make it happen:

  • 14 tonnes of steel
  • a structural steel fabricator to prepare steel
  • riggers
  • mechanical foremen
  • 50 tonne crane
  • counterweight (almost 7 tonnes!)
  • semi trailer, 4 trucks and a scissor lift
  • 5 x test cars
  • a venue to throw it

In addition, to keep themselves motivated over these months and focused on the task at hand, Fitzy & Wippa decided to create Catapult themed jingles such as ‘Throw a Car’ (a parody of the song ‘How Bizarre’ by OMC) and ‘How Many Dudes’ (a parody of Scribe’s ‘Not Many’) to help build intrigue and excitement.

The Launch

On Friday, August 5, Fitzy & Wippa broadcast live from the Sydney Speedway – the site of The Bob Katterpult. The launch attracted over one thousand spectators – including listeners, clients, helpers, Nova announcers, DMG Chief Executive Officer Cathy O’Connor and Chairman Lachlan Murdoch.

To match the medieval theming, Fitzy & Wippa were dressed as Knights and broadcasted from a pair of thrones. The top 10 models from Australia’s Next Top Model came down to support – holding up branded Nova signs to indicate how long until the throw (i.e 25 minutes to go). We’ve all been to OB’s where a handful of people show up, and given the traffic we were hoping to pull a crowd of a few hundred. From the moment we opened the gates, the listeners streamed in. Final crowd numbers were estimated above 5000 (Wippa pegs it closer to 50 000).

Bob Katter arrived, dressed as a Medieval Monk and joined Wes Carr as he sang the National Anthem before the launch.

Fitzy & Wippa left their thrones to join Bob Katter at the Katterpult… giving a live on-air countdown for the launch. The boys directed the countdown “3….2….1….pull the cord Bob” and left it to the catapult’s namesake to pull the lever to catapult the car. Once launched we placed the video immediately online. The volume of traffic attempting to watch the video meant it was 3 hours before most people got to see the World Record throw.

As we basked in the glow of the smashed VW Beetle and 5000 happy fans we knew this was one hell of an ACRA entry.

The Speech

We’ll always remember jumping up and down, screaming, cheering, clapping when the car landed. Our bodies were shaking for at least ten minutes after the throw. It wasn’t because we’d broken the world record, or the awesome pyrotechnics. It was because no one died.

In testing one of the cars flew more than fifty-metres off course. We of course didn’t tell Fitzy & Wippa this.

While this was a team effort, one member in particular lead this campaign from day one. Lynsey Watchman put her blood, sweat and tears literally in to the Katterpult conception and build. She is the reason this campaign and the final event was such a success. Her knowledge of steel, rigging, rust and counterweights increased exponentially during the build. Lynsey was definitely an able foreman on this killer idea which became another shit-hot Nova experience.

On Air, the amazing producers Tom Ivey and Georgie Clarke were able to craft the content with Fitzy & Wippa in a way that held the audience over the three month build process but also didn’t exclude Females from what could have been perceived as a very blokey expedition.

We all know what we do is so much more than just what listeners hear on air. Through our awesome digital team we were able to bring the Katterpult journey to life with everything from song parodies to mockumentaries on what was going on behind the scenes.

We have to thank the listeners too, for embracing the Katterpult wholeheartedly. Their input and passion for the very expensive collection of steel gave us hours on end of brilliant radio and a benchmark for Fitzy & Wippa executions.

And finally – the self proclaimed Captain Katterpult ‘Wippa’ for giving birth to this ACRA winning idea.

Here's the mockumentary they produced to tell the story…..

See the actual Katterpult in action below….


If you're a finalist in Metropolitan, Non-Metropolitan, Provincial or Country drop us a line and we'll shine the spotlight on you.

Email Mark Hales here

Comment Form

Your email address will not be published.

Recent comments (0)
Post new comment


See all