Ian Skippen, post radio: “Early starts are in my DNA”
It sounds like an oxymoron, especially when you’re talking about dietary habits in breakfast radio.
But I reckon if you looked up the definition, you’d find a photo of Ian Skippen right next to it.
After decades of ridiculously early starts, the Brisbane radio legend of stations including B105, 4KQ and Triple M says these days it’s the sound of kookaburras – and not the dreaded 2.30am alarm – that wakes him up.
I caught up with Ian, 72, on the Food Bytes podcast this week from his home, set on four and half idyllic acres at Bunya on Brisbane’s north side
And he’s still a perpetual early riser.
“That is something I have tried hard to break but oh, golleeeeee … forty years of getting up early is just part of your DNA.”
While many of us (myself included) caved in to bad habits during our breakfast radio days, Ian was – and still is – a beacon for disciplined, healthy eating.
He says museli and yoghurt sustained him through the early mornings.
“When I came off air, I’d have a grated zucchini omelette made on the good old sandwich maker.”
And Ian’s never had to rely on coffee to power him through a shift.
“Nup. I was just up and on. I never needed coffee. I’ve never needed anything to get me going. While I was on air, I used to have Japanese tea. I still have it now.”
Ian admits he thought he was bulletproof, until – in late 2020 – he had a heart attack whilst walking with a mate up Mount Coot-Tha.
I use the word HAD a heart attack, as opposed to ‘suffered’ a heart attack – because Ian says he didn’t even realise it had happened.
He only found out later by chance during a routine health check. Next thing, he’s in hospital.
“They put a stent in for a 90% blockage. It’s what they call ‘the widow maker.’”
Just a few weeks ago, a staff member from the angioplasty unit offered him a sobering reminder: “You were one of the lucky ones, because for some people, that’s it. That’s the end of the game.”
Ian says the experience has driven home an important point.
“I’m fit. But fitness doesn’t necessarily mean inside that you are fit. You don’t know what’s going on inside your arteries.”
“It gives you a perspective that every day is a bonus.”
Ian has long followed a stoic philosophy:
“Live now. This is the moment, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow, you have no idea. Live each day as if it is your last. Go to bed at night thinking ‘now, if I died, have I done everything in this day that I could have done?”
“Tell people you love them. Give them a hug.”