Jim Mortimer – SAFM 35 year reunion Part 2

Last September, a collection of some of the finest Australian radio minds celebrated the 35 year anniversary of SAFM as reported on Radio Today here

In Part 1 of this series, Jim walked us through the montage of archival audio he put together for the years 1980 – 1984.

Before we dive into the next audio montage – years 1985 – 1989, I asked Greg Smith, what he recalls of the early days of SAFM.

Greg S: I have very fond memories of Adelaide’s SA.FM.

I became the station’s Program Director in February 1984 just before the start of the first survey of the year.  It was rating 3rd 10+ with a share of 18.1%.

I didn’t change anything during that time as it gave me a chance to get to know the station.

The survey came out and the station dropped to 2nd last with a 17.4% share.

We made some adjustments during the next few months and when the next survey came out SA.FM went to number 1 10+ with a share of 21.1%.

We created history by becoming the first FM station in Australia to go to number 1 10+. 

It was a terrific environment with great support from founding CEO of Austereo and DMG/Nova networks, Paul Thompson.

Creating great radio is an art form. It combines strategy, tactics & creativity. It’s not something you can do on your own. I was lucky enough to work with a very talented team of individuals. It was this team that built the Austereo Network much to the surprise of the larger capital city broadcasters in Sydney & Melbourne.

Jim Mortimer’s audio is proof of the magic that poured out of 128 Greenhill Road, Unley. South Australia.

Now back to our interview with Jim Mortimer.

Jim, talk us through this next montage …

Jim M: For the 1985 – 89 era montage, I wanted to make a statement about SAFM’s first Skyshow, on Australia Day 1985. This was ground breaking, SAFM becoming a part of South Australian culture. The radio station putting on a mass appeal and very popular event which would run for twenty-plus years. It ended up being South Australia’s largest community event. Massive, ¼ of a million people attending and more.

But because there wasn’t any narrator telling the story, there was no way of really explaining it. I didn’t have any promos from the first Skyshow either. After going through dozens of reels marked “Skyshow”, I was about to give up.  Then I found audio of the late John Vincent talking about it for the 10th Anniversary Skyshow in 1995.  “In 1985 SAFM brought you Australia’s first Skyshow”. Viola. Thank you Vinnie.

I had to recreate the actual Skyshow 1 audio  – the original cassette copy I had was damaged beyond repair. I had recorded it at the original Skyshow venue in Adelaide’s Elder Park, on a tiny mono cassette recorder.  And although there were lots of reels from this era, once again most of them were un playable without major baking or vacuum revitalisation. I was working at 5KA during this period, so I didn’t have access to source audio at the time, but I later found that SAFM had paid an audio studio to record for posterity the sound from the firing site, mostly a series of explosions and faint music and applause from the 70,000 crowd who were safely hundreds of metres further up the Torrens river.

For Skyshow 2 I actually had some audio from the crowd, you’ll hear a brief bit of that.

By the mid 1980s the John Vincent breakfast show had turned into the Vinnie’s SAFM Morning Zoo, with Grant Cameron and soon a growing band of features and panellists.

In 1987 I left Adelaide for QLD, so my recordings became less frequent but my Dad was kind enough to run a tape over selected events for me and post the audio up to Cairns!

Here is the track list:

1985 – 89

John Vincent talks about SAFM’s first Skyshow

Skyshow audio, Australia Day 26/1/1985

John Vincent & Grant Cameron breakfast –“Horriblescope” 1985

SAFM 20 song music marathon sweep 1985 – Holger Brockman

1985 Adelaide Grand Prix Rocktober 1 – SAFM Sticker promo

SAFM Input line promo Late 1985

SAFM Skyshow 2 intro – January 1986

Mike Perso talkbreak 1986

25 Minutes non stop stereo sweep

David Day 20 song marathon

1075 song countdown sweep Oct 1986

Skyshow 88 promo

Gregarious (Greg Meyer) comedy from Morning Zoo

John Vincent & Grant Cameron Morning Zoo Jan 1988

John Pemberton Skyshow pre promote 1988

John Vincent & Grant Cameron Morning Zoo Raccoons mate

Skyshow 5 – Australia Day 1989 promo

Short Cuts to Cash promo April 1989

A special thanks to Jim Mortimer for not only taking the time to share his story but to allow us to hear this unique historical and at the time, ground breaking audio footage of what was a pivotal time in Australian Radio.

In part 3 we feature SAFM from 1990 – 1995 with some special words from Paul thompson.

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