ACRAs Finalists Fever – #8

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.

Just like we did last year, over the next few weeks, Radio Today will shine a spotlight on the best of the best.

Today we feature Craig Annis & Mandy CoolenDan Ginnane and Drew Chapman 

Let’s Roll Out the Red Carpet….The ACRAs Finalists Fever – counting down the days to the big event on October 10 by profiling the finalists across all categories. You can get involved by emailing us here.



Craig & Mandy; Craig Annis & Mandy Coolen, Star FM, Gosford NSW, Nova Entertainment P

Where did you get your break…

CRAIG: I started at SYN FM in Melbourne doing breakfast with my best mate Stefan (our first producer was Leon Sjogren who now produces Dan & Maz), from there we managed to sneak in to Triple M and under the watchful eye of Rex Morris did late nights to Brisbane for many months. I was lucky enough to be offered SAFM breakfast and moved to Adelaide for two wonderful years until the opportunity arose to do breakfast radio in my home town – the Central Coast where I’ve been with Mandy ever since. We were joined by Rabbit and Julie Goodwin in late August this year.

MANDY: I volunteered at Radio Adelaide (formerly 5UV) a community station when I was a new mum and soaked up as much as I could (in between breast feeds). I hosted Adelaide Fringe Shows from pubs and clubs, produced a 10 episode radio play (complete with cameo by Bruce McAvaney), trained indigenous kids to produce their own show and much more. After pestering Jeff Burzacott at Triple M to give me a go I got a gig doing a night request show, weekends and floating shifts.
I met some radio greats (think Sheridan Stewart, Michael Tunn, David ‘Daisy’ Day) and worked hard to learn my craft. A couple of years later I got a call from Nova Entertainment (at that time DMG) asking if I wanted to be a morning announcer and creative writer on the Central Coast, where I’ve been ever since. I’ve done almost every shift on this station and am now in my third Breakfast show incarnation (Neil ‘Wilko’ Wilcock was the first, Craig Annis the second and now Craig and Rabbit). I’ve just dropped back to three mornings a week to focus on my kids a little more and am thoroughly enjoying sleeping in on Monday’s and Fridays.

About your entry…

We love having guests that aren’t necessarily the biggest names on the planet, we were Captain Risky’s first ever radio interview and we caught up with him in a campervan deep in the Californian desert. He send us a photo of him kissing Mandy’s portrait. Mandy also went to painstaking lengths to track down the lady who does the voice of the Woolworth’s self-checkouts because Craig said he has changed super-markets because her voice is nicer. She even recorded a Christmas greeting for us.

We’ve always tried to create a show that’s real and somewhat shameless. That being said, we aren’t into doing nudie runs through Westfield Tuggerah, we’ve just come to a point where we are able to share some of the embarrassing truths about life and we’ve found that the everyday honesty connects with our listeners in an endearing way and also reminds them, they aren’t the only ones who get into weird situations.

Finally, the Central Coast is a wonderfully tight community and after seeing the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Gosford Hospital and knowing they needed help, we decided to do the Central Coasts first 24hour broadcast live from a McDonalds car park to help raise much needed funds and awareness for what they do. 24 hour broadcasts aren’t new to radio but what we really wanted to do was to focus on the community involvement and break down the 24 hours into 1 hour ‘mini-shows’. We had a cavalcade of guests; local MP’s, Kyal & Kara from the Block, Julie Goodwin, the mayor did late night love songs, Greg Gould (AGT) sang purple rain upside down on a Velcro wall, we had a sideshow alley for the kids, there were fire works, a treasure hunt from midnight until 4am where listeners raised $100 by bringing one item from the list. It was a huge success with 1000’s of people joining us over the 24 hours including a number of families who had used the services of the Family Room, there was a constant flow of donations from Coasties and even Peter Overton from the Channel 9 news room called the show and donated $500, it was a fantastic experience and in the end we were able to raise $91’000 in the 24 hours. I think I speak for Mandy and myself when I say it was one of our proudest moments in radio.


You get the ACRA, what’s your speech..

CRAIG: A huge thanks to everyone who makes the show possible – Alice Worthy, who’s now moved on, is one of the countries GREAT producers, Cassie Grentell is without doubt the greatest Integration Manager in a Provincial market, Hannah Schadel, Shayne Sinclair (it’s weird when your old morning announcer is now your boss), Paul Moltzen – our GM, he never borks when we ask him if we can do crazy things (he probably should…), Tony Aldrige at Nova 96.9 who’s been such a great mentor to me this year and throwing back to my SCA days, Craig Bruce and Rex Morris who believed in me and taught me how to make great radio. My wonderful fiancé, Jess, who’s moved three times for my crazy dream and apart from Perth, is happy to go wherever this ride takes me.

MANDY: Shout out to Jeff Burzacott!


Dan Ginnane; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M


This is Dan’s second nomination for an ACRA. He was the 2011 winner of the Brian White Memorial Award which recognises sustained achievement and effort across news, current affairs, entertainment and sports reporting. This was the first time the award had an international fellowship attached, where Dan is to undertake a two week fellowship at one of Asia’s premier media companies Singapore’s MediaCorp at the time of his choosing. Dan looks forward to the 2015 ACRA’s and celebrating the industry’s achievements this year with his peers. 



Drew Chapman; River 949, Ipswich QLD, Grant Broadcasters P

Quick spiel on you and where you have worked..

Started while at school on the Sunny Coast in 1999, then Sea FM Townsville (MD/Drive), Triple M Sydney (Mid dawns, floater), Triple M Brisbane (Drive, APD), Triple M Sydney (Brekky anchor, mornings, APD), Triple M Brisbane (Workday announcer, APD), Mix 106.3/104.7 Canberra (PD), now River 949 Ipswich (PD) 

Best PD…. congrats on being a finalist… tell us about your entry Drew..

I wanted to capture River 949’s big point of difference. We are one of the very few completely live and local stations left, and I wanted this to really come across in my entry.

Here’s your moment… the speech.. let rip

Would keep it very short, as everyone is there to have a drink, not listen to me! But first and foremost would thank the awesome team we have at River 949.   



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.




Comment Form

Your email address will not be published.

Recent comments (0)
Post new comment


See all