ACRAs Finalists Fever – #5

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 ACRAs. Today we feature, Anthony “Thomo Thompson, Tom Whitaker, Carly Portch and Dane McGuirk  Let’s Roll Out the Red Carpet.

The ACRAs Finalists Fever – counting down the days to the big event on October 8 by profiling the finalists across all categories. You can get involved by emailing us [email protected] 


David Bowie A Tribute;Anthony Thompson, 3HA, Hamilton VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C 

Where did it all start.

It’s easy to class my 15-plus years in radio as an “Immersion in Australiana”. Having started in Broken Hill, each station I have then worked at has been in an area I never visited previously; Berri SA, Nowra NSW, Traralgon VIC, and, now, Hamilton VIC. I’m constantly on holiday, just with a handy solution for all the bills.

Having the privilege of working with so many great radio brains, I’ve always been keen to re-impart all the information and knowledge I have had access to, to the next generation of budding radio professionals. Now, 18months in to my first gig as a Program Director, I find the teaching element is just another great part of being in an industry I wouldn’t be without, and getting paid for it, too.

Tell us about your entry…

My entry is one of the many that could’ve been in their own “Best David Bowie Music Special” category this year. Yep, one person had a brilliant, individual idea…and so did the rest of the country. However, when our musical heroes depart this mortal coil, it’s only fitting to take the time as a music station to mark their accomplishments. Bowie, obviously, was the biggest headline departure of the period. Get set for the “Best Prince Music Special” category at next year’s ACRAs.

Bowie’s musical career was testament to the type of artist he was, so the special was as much about the person as it was the music. Limiting the sheer number of compelling parts of Bowie’s life for the music special, was almost as hard as choosing what songs not to play.

Your speech, if you were able to make one…

People often greet me with “What do you know?” I reply, “Not much, I’m still in radio”, or “Do you need an extra on your table for a trivia night?”

One thing I do know, and the ACRAs is wonderful proof, that there are people, stations and networks across the country, and the planet, proving the radio industry’s versatility and relevance in a fast-paced and ever-changing technological landscape.

The search for instant gratification from our entertainment is stronger than ever, but radio continues to show its strength in providing compelling entertainment that our fans continue to be drawn to and love; even if it’s “coming up in two-hits time”.

Whether it’s talk or music formats, our influence is not diminished, but only gets stronger, as we compel, entertain, inform and journey this shared experience of life with our listeners. Show me a Spotify playlist that can do all that, and only then I will quit



Tom Whitaker;Bree & Gawndy, Sea FM, Gosford NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM 

Your Career so far…

When I was in High School I started in Community Radio at Eastside Radio In Paddington. After a brief radio stint in the UK, I started at 2GB working on The Alan Jones Show as a producer and phone op. I worked there for almost 2 years with Alan, and also on several weekend shows. At the same time, I was studying at AFTRS. When I graduated AFTRS, I went to NEWFM in Newcastle and then after 18 months, moved up the road to NXFM. I worked at NX and KO for 2 years both On Air, and also producing Off Air. During that time, I started doing On Air Weekend shifts at 2DayFM and working with Shazam Top 20 and The Hit 30. Last year I started at SeaFM on the Central Coast on air from 9am-12pm and also producing the breakfast show “Byron + Kristie” which this year turned into “Bree + Gawndy”. In April I moved to Sydney to start full time as a producer on The Hit 30 with Angus and Emma and that is where we are now

Tell Us About Your Entry…

With my entry, I tried to showcase some of the most entertaining and engaging local Central Coast things that we did at SeaFM in our breakfast show. A man’s house burnt down and he lost everything, so we joined with the local community to help him and his kids get back on their feet with new beds, toys and other things for their house. We helped a local girl with Cancer see her idol Ed Sheeran front row in concert… To celebrate the Newcastle/Central Coast A League Soccer team rivalry – we joined up with NXFM to simulcast an on air challenge to determine which place is better to live, and we also had a MASSIVE female proposal involving Central Coast TV star Fletcher Pilon for the February 29th Leap Year tradition. #LocalWins

Your speech… let rip.

Thank you God and Jesus and Oprah. I couldn’t have done it without you.




Carly & Dane; Carly Portch & Dane McGuirk, Star FM, Griffith NSW, Southern Cross Austereo C 


Your Career so far…..

Carly: I started as a station floater/reception at Star FM Port Macquarie and did a bit of casual producing work at the ABC in Port Macquarie from there I went to drive at ZZZFM in Lismore for around 9 months then to Power FM Nowra for Breakfast for nearly two years to Star FM Griffith Breakfast for two years and now I am at Hot FM CQ doing breakfast.

Dane:  started at Nova 106.9 in Brisbane on the street team and slowly worked my way up to learn how to panel and announce. After a couple years there it was time for my first full-time announcing gig in Parkes, then to Power FM in Muswellbrook where I won best new comer on-air in 2013 and now Griffith where I’ve been doing breakfast for the last three years.


Your Entry… tell us about it

Carly: With the on air entry with Dane we just wanted to highlight bits from the show that show us mucking around and having fun because that was what basically made up our show, we are not afraid to laugh at ourselves or each other so I hope that came across.

With the 9 inch sub bit with Mike it was apart of a story arc we did. I was at subway one day and was like I don’t want to commit to a whole footlong but a 6 inch isn’t enough *cue double entendres  I thought everything comes in small, medium and large why can’t we have that option at subway the “9 inch sub.” 

We actually got in touch with subway and they were hilarious about it and we also had our local subway guy on the show he was on board but sadly subway rejected it at the last minute but I will always hold out hope!

Mike produced this bit I can’t tell you how many times we have sat together and he has listened to my crazy ideas and come on board and used his amazing production skills to make them sound great even the bads ones lol not only does he produce them but he also puts in his creative genius to!

Dane: Carly and I’s entry for best on-air team was all about fun and highlighting the relationship Carly and I had with each other, our guests and most importantly our listeners. It’s always hard to get a minute of highlights from hundreds of shows but that’s the challenge I guess.


What’s the best part of your job?

Carly: The listeners hands down because you are given this amazing platform into their world and you have the power to make them think, laugh and feel and nothing is more satisfying to me in this job then to hear someone say they were having a crap day and you made them laugh.

Dane: Not knowing what the day is going to bring and the fact that every day is different. You don’t know what your listeners are going to say, you don’t know how your guest will react to a question – it keeps you on your toes. I also love the immediacy of it all, if it happens now – you can talk about it.


Your speech, if you were able to make one…

Carly: I would reference the fact that five years ago when I was working in reception and trying to get into the on air side of things I remember sitting in the audience and decided on that night that one day I would return here as a nominated radio announcer

It may have taken five years but if you are persistent and passionate things will happen for you!
And I would have to give a shout out to Fifi Box who I used to listen to everyday and laugh along to she made me realise radio is a moment to connect and enjoy with perfect strangers.

Dane: Firstly to Carly for putting up with me. I’d have to thank everyone who gave me my initial start in the industry, without them I wouldn’t be in radio – Dee Curtis, Jason O’Grady, Ryan Rathbone and Jay Walkerden. Phil Bradley, Peter Yiamarelos and Mickey Maher for the feedback and direction and continually pushing me to become the best announcer possible and finally the listeners. Without them we wouldn’t have a show.

Are You an ACRAs Finalist?

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 Blair  here.


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