“I just want to be good at what I do.” Higgo’s golden journey to #1


Dave ‘Higgo’ Higgins is – in his own words – feeling  bloody stoked.

The Gold 104.3 favourite – who this year clocks up 25 years in radio – is enjoying the view from the top as Melbourne’s outright #1 Drive host, going up from 9.7 to 11.3 in Survey 1 of 2024.

Gold had a terrific book right across the board.

Not only was it Melbourne’s #1 FM station overall, The Christian O’Connell Show, Craig Huggins and Toni Tenaglia were all #1 in their respective shifts, with Nights and Weekends finishing on top as well.

Higgo says if he’s being brutally honest, his own result came as a surprise:

“Gold had a down book to end 2023, and personally my family has gone through some extremely serious medical upheaval since the start of February, so I didn’t know if I was at my best on air.”

Higgo was assured that he sounded fine.

“Nonetheless, my head was truly all over the shop, as the day to day possibility of losing my father was clouding everything,” he says.

When Radio Today caught up with him, Higgo was still wrapping his head around his ratings result.

“I mean, it’s preposterous, isn’t it? Me? Doing a solo Drive show with no producers – and it’s #1?”

“Just proves how amazing Gold 104.3 is. ‘Coz it’s not me, let’s be honest, I’m just a cog in the bush who’s catching a rolling mossy bird.”

“Melbourne loves Gold 104.3, not me.”

Many would disagree with the last two words of that sentence, not least Higgo’s long time mate, Triple M’s ‘Dangerous’ Dave Williams:

“Higgo wears his heart on his sleeve,” says Williams. “And I reckon that’s his best quality.”

As far as Williams is concerned, Higgo is a music champion.

“From nurturing the local metal scene to belting out a Queen classic, his knowledge of music is incredible.”

“When I was doing drive on The Fox in the early 2000s, Higgo would host the Top 6 at 6 listener party in the burbs where he’d cook the sausages (and probably ate a few), entertain the listeners and do live crosses which usually went off the rails.”

“He was so much fun to work with and we’d try to outdo each other with dumb stuff on air, which still happens now with him on Gold and me on Triple M.”

Having moved around the country at various times, Higgo – who hails from the Melbourne suburb of Mulgrave – now resides in the same neighbourhood where he grew up.

“I came back here mainly because my friends and family are all nearby.”

Higgo’s radio career came about later than most.

Like many from his era, he grew up listening to the American Top 40 with Casey Kasem on Sunday nights.

“That to me, as a kid, seemed like a magical job – playing music, interviewing artists, going to concerts. But it really did seem like a ‘someone else’ job.”

“I remember thinking, ‘There’s no way I could do that! How do you even do that?’”

In 1998, Higgo enrolled in Gary Mac’s Melbourne Radio School.

On completion of the course, one simple question decided Higgo’s fate:

“I asked Gary ‘Do you reckon I can do this?’ He said yes, so I made a demo, wrote some commercials, added a cover letter, and packaged up 42 of these into VHS cassette boxes.”

He even covered each cassette with coloured vinyl, so they’d stand out from the rest.

Then he posted them to stations all over Australia.

“I did get a lot of the standard ‘We’ll keep your resume on file’ responses,” Higgo says.

Some didn’t reply at all.

“But I did get one that asked me to come in for a chat,” says Higgo.

That station was 2LT/KISS FM in Lithgow.

“I drove the eight and a half hours for that chat, stayed overnight, and drove home eight and a half hours again,” Higgo remembers.

Offered a copywriting gig, he grabbed it with both hands.

“I just needed a foot in the door, and I got it.”

More than two decades on, Higgo is in his element: unassuming, unpretentious – and well loved among his radio colleagues.

In terms of his standout radio moments, the good certainly outweigh the bad.

Gold 104.3, he says, is an environment in which he thrives.

“I never get told to pull back. I’m only ever encouraged to be MORE me.”

Higgo says Content Director Sue Carter has championed his cause.

“Sue deserves every accolade bestowed upon her. I really appreciate her guidance and support.”

“God, this sounds like a bloody Logies speech,” he laughs.

Meeting and interviewing artists – and travelling overseas to do it – are among his greatest highlights.

“Becoming friends with record company reps, promoters, publicists, musicians, TV hosts, and absolute lifelong friends in the people you work with on air and off is pretty special.”

“You never stop learning from people you work with, and I never stop looking up to certain announcers because they’re great.”

Higgo doesn’t sugar coat the bad moments.

He says he learnt a hard lesson in 2015, his job at Triple M in Melbourne coming to an end after a social media policy breach.

Higgo describes it as the lowest point of his career.

“I’d let everyone around me down. My family, my friends, listeners, bands and myself.”

“Looking back now, it’s easy to see that I wasn’t well. I wasn’t dealing with life, I was burnt out, and rather than put my hand up and ask for help and maybe some time away, I made a mistake, and it cost me, massively.”

But he was determined to learn from it – and he certainly wasn’t going to give up radio.

“So I did learn from it, I did grow as a person, I did kick myself in the arse and change my mindset and got help.”

“I spoke to mentors, family and friends who are straight shooters, and it helped me realise again that I do bloody love radio, and I shouldn’t take it for granted.”

Higgo credits Craig Bruce as being instrumental in the trajectory of his radio career.

“Craig was the first person to take a chance on me and got me to Fox FM in late 2001. Anyone that worked under Craig as an announcer knows how good he is, and how good he is at getting the best from you.”

Sean Craig Murphy became a friend when he was the producer of the Hot 30 when Alexis and I were on it, and he’s always been a great ear and friend to trust in.”

Higgo is a huge rap for Dangerous Dave.

“Dave is a legend, the best announcer I know,” says Higgo.

Rosemary Walton is an absolute gem and I consider myself lucky to have worked alongside her.”

“I learnt so much about the local music scene from her, she probably doesn’t even realise.”

Matt Tilley, Jo Stanley, Adam Richard, Troy Ellis, Fifi Box, James Brayshaw, Billy Brownless (The Rush Hour on Triple M was by far my favourite show I’ve been a part of), Dave Cameron, Sam Cav, Hamish and Andy … I mean, I have worked with the best there has ever been.”

He’s also quick to praise the Adelaide crew.

“In 2004 we relaunched Triple M in Adelaide, under Craig Bruce, and that team became, and still are, family. Ben Dillon Smith, Jaime Chaux, Scott Baker Smith, Alexis Kuchel, Kate Mac, Sam Mac (not related) Simon Mitchell, Chris Page, Cosi, GP and loads more.”

“Now, I get to work with more superstars – The Christian O’Connell Show, Joe Bovalino, Jason Staveley, Toni Tenaglia HUGGY, I get to work with bloody HUGGY!”

 “I have been surrounded with radio legends, and I will never forget it.”

“Jeez, this is more like an Oscars speech, but I really am fortunate to do what I love and work with special people.”

 As Huggy tells Radio Today, the admiration is certainly mutual:

“Professionally I’d describe Higgo as a brilliant word artist. Listening to him on-air I often I find myself thinking ‘I wish I’d said it like that.’”

“He has an amazing turn of phrase, and he sounds like your best mate.”

“On a personal level I find him complex, in a good way,” says Huggy. “We don’t have surface level chit chat, our discussions are always deeper and interesting.”

“He’s a really good guy with a heart of gold that belies his tough exterior, and his favourite metal music!”

Toni Tenaglia describes Higgo as a true genius of the biz, and says thanks to him, her own drive home from work is a breeze.

“There would be a lot of radio announcers who wouldn’t listen to their station on their way home. They would turn it off or listen to something else. It’s not something I do, as I love listening to him on air.”

“He is an absolute master. He’s informative, entertaining and most importantly, relatable. Every day I hear him do something and I think ‘Oooh, I need to try that,’ or ‘Damn, I wish I had thought of that!'”

So … where to from here?

Higgo says “It’s world domination. Clearly.”

“My goals are kinda simple. Keep enjoying radio and keep learning from radio. Respect the people who listen and listen to the people I respect. Ying Yang, up down, here there, give take. Peace, love and mung beans, man. I dunno.”

“I just wanna be good at what I do and hope that people like it.”

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20 Mar 2024 - 8:06 am

Higgo. One of the nice guys. Loved my time working with him.

20 Mar 2024 - 10:21 am

“I just wanna be good…” Mission accomplished Hig. You’re a good man and deserve all the success you’re having right now.

20 Mar 2024 - 11:32 am



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