Graham Ross’ 2GB gardening show celebrates its 40th anniversary
Radio 2GB’s The Garden Clinic is celebrating 40 years on-air this Easter long weekend.
The Garden Clinic started on 2GB over the 1980 Easter break when Graham Ross was asked to front a new program on Sunday mornings.
“I had been appearing every Wednesday on Mickie De Stoop’s afternoon show and calls started to come in with no real mechanism to take them. The program manager, Sam Galea, sorted that out technically and away I went,” says Ross.
“Within weeks the show was rating well and by Spring 1980 it had full advertising support – the first real gardening show on commercial radio. Years later, Sam would go on to say in a letter, when Sandra joined me on the program, ‘If you guys keep this quality up you’ll be doing this for the rest of your lives’. He was right.”
As the show continued to rate, it went to two hours on both Saturday and Sunday, and eventually to three hours, making it the longest weekend gardening show of its kind.
“Over the years we’ve travelled a lot around Australia and the world and we were the first to consistently broadcast globally. Our commitment was to take our treasured audience with us everywhere we went,” says Ross.
“We also did the first-ever live radio broadcast using a new-fangled gadget called a mobile phone. It was the size of a small suitcase and Sandra was perched on the roof of a Manly ferry during the Great Sydney Ferry Race to get a signal.”
Ross says The Garden Clinic has always been a family affair, with his and Sandra’s children Linda and Kent growing up doing their homework in the foyer of 2GB.
The Ross family recorded interviews on the road together, and Linda and Kent have even done Christmas holiday shows to give their hard-working parents a weekend off.
“It was 20 years, 2000, before we had a weekend off. Kent was even our panel operator for years, and Linda still fills in for me if I’m away filming,” says Ross..
“We’ve taken 250,000 calls during more than 4,100 shows, running up over 8,000 hours of continuous weekend garden broadcasting. We’ve been told it’s some sort of Australian radio record, having the same presenters, same station, same time slot (mainly) and same subject matter throughout 40 years.”
As The Garden Clinic marks 40 years on-air it is making sure its history is carefully archived, with every page of 2GB caller questions since 1980 to enter the Mitchell Library archives, along with the rest of Graham Ross’s written stories.