Gary Roberts reflects on 40 years since launching 96FM

Former Assistant Editor
Phil Lear, Gary Roberts, John Hood

96FM is celebrating 40 years on air this week, and one man who was there at the beginning, Gary Roberts, joined Botica’s Bunch to chat about the launch of the station.

Roberts regaled listeners with the story of how he was told he needed to launch the station from scratch in three weeks.

“I arrived and discovered we were going to air on August 1. I went to see the managing director… and asked if I could have four,” said Roberts.

“Record companies in those days actually had warehouses in Perth, so there I was whipping around every record company that had a warehouse… getting albums, throwing them into a shopping trolley to create a record library so we had a reference point when we went to air.”

The current 96FM managing director also spoke about changing over to FM, and some of the amazing competitions and giveaways that they used to run.

He says he scored the gig “out of the blue,” and spoke about first meeting Fred Botica while they both worked in New Zealand.

“[Then] I get to go back to Perth and launch FM in Australia. I’m in!”

The station launched on Saturday, August 8 at 4pm (40 years ago), and ARN launched a special website in the station’s honour complete with photos audio, articles and videos from across the 40 years.

96FM is also giving away 40 Fender Squier guitars to listeners, one a day for the next 40 days, as well as a $40,000 cash and a Black T-Roc car.

Over the next 40 days the station is also playing back a stack of music specials from down the years, including live concerts by Prince, David Bowie, Sting, and Saturday Night Vinyl.

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12 Aug 2020 - 5:32 pm

Gary, it’s as though the only history was when you were there.

There were two great decades, plenty of other owners, staff and stories born out of that station – yet most of the history and the beautiful photos really only mention the first half decade and the birthdays in between.

12 Aug 2020 - 5:35 pm

In a year of ongoing retrenchments and redundancy, with many more to come, it’s nice to remember the good times…

But its also a reminder of what little has been done in the industry since!

12 Aug 2020 - 5:37 pm

What about the piece of history where… ARN paid Fairfax a sh*tload of money for an almost number one station, only to change the format twice and send it to Number 6 in the market within the first 6 months… ?

John Reillu
15 Aug 2020 - 2:42 pm

I wish Gary Roberts was still at 2UW


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