Kevin Hillier celebrates 50 years in radio


I’ll be honest and say I had reservations when it came to writing a story about my own husband for Radio Today, for obvious reasons.

But then I thought: Who better to write about Kevin Hillier notching up 50 years in radio than the person who’s shared a good chunk of the journey with him for the past 25?

Besides, I know where he keeps his old radio photos.

Kevin was just sixteen when he landed in Longreach, Queensland, ready to begin his outback radio adventure as a young announcer at 4LG.

As he emerged from the Fokker Friendship turbo prop, he remembers two things: The heat. And the flies.

His radio journey started at the age of twelve, when he set up his own station in his childhood bedroom.

“My folks helped me buy a small stereo and I got a reel to reel tape machine from somewhere and I bought singles and albums, as I could scrape the money together working in the family service stations.”

“I taped the rest from 4IP and 4BH.”

As he presented shows from his bedroom, his mum would listen from the kitchen.

Next came Air TV’s radio school in Brisbane.

“It opened my eyes to what radio was actually all about – writing ads, news, production.”

After sending out tapes, he was excited beyond belief when 4IP – then the big rock station in Brisbane – got in touch and asked him to come in for a chat.

“When they offered me a job and Sir Frank Moore told me I had a big future in the Color Radio network, my sixteen year old head was spinning,” Kevin remembers.

It was spinning so much, in fact, that he missed the part about being sent to Longreach.

It ended up being one of the most enjoyable experiences of his life.

Later came 4IP mid dawns, nights, Drive and then Breakfast.

Then, at the end of 1981, Kevin was invited to join Melbourne’s 3XY.

He arrived in Melbourne on the Australia Day weekend of 1982 and headed straight to 3XY to learn the panel and talk to his new boss, Greg Smith.

“While I am playing on the panel, he comes in and – as only Greg could do – says ‘Hillier, come on. We’re going to the Bowl. I’ve got a job for you.’”

“As we leave, he throws me a green and gold t-shirt and says ‘Put this on.’”

“Ten minutes later, I’m backstage at the Myer Music Bowl for the Mushroom Evolution 10th Anniversary Concert, about to go on stage to introduce one of the bands.”

“After a breathless ‘Hi everyone, I’m Kevin Hillier from 3XY, please welcome …’ (I can’t remember who it was, it is all a blur), I did mid dawn that night and Drive the next day. Another chapter was beginning.”

Kevin says getting to host RocksatAustralia’s first nationally syndicated call-in music show – was mind blowing.

“We did 199 episodes. We did things like premiering John Farnham’s Chain Reaction album live from Armstrong studios with John and the band. We had hook ups with studios in London, LA and other parts of the US, all live, so when Mike Rutherford (Mike & the Mechanics/Genesis) got stuck in London traffic, I had no guest for 20 minutes.”

“We had Elton John, Phil Collins, Bowie, Barnesy (first show) Paul Kelly, Cheap Trick, George Thorogood, everyone we could get our hands on. Live callers from all over the country getting to talk to their favourite stars. It was very cool.”

Kevin went on to anchor the hugely successful Fox FM Morning Crew.

At that time, Fox was based at Channel Ten’s Nunawading studios, which made for some interesting surrounds in the ‘80s.

“I parked as close to Lassiter’s pool on the Neighbours set as you could. Then as I walked to the rear entrance of the building where Fox was, I passed the loading bay for Wentworth Detention Centre (on the old set of Prisoner). It was always amusing.”

In the late 80s, Kevin was poached by Triple M and paired up with The D Generation team comprising Rob Sitch, Mick Molloy, Tony Martin, Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner, Santo Cilauro and Jason Stephens.

“We were winning breakfast at Fox and Ian Grace (network PD at Triple M) needed two things. One: to beat Fox and two: to find a way to keep the D Gen on air because they were keen to do television.”

“He made me an offer or two to join Triple M. At the same time Denis O’Kane was talking to me about  creating a team and joining 3AW Breakfast.”

“In the end, the lure of working with the D Gen (and the fact Rocksat was going to be moving as well) plus a decent pay packet swayed me.”

Kevin believes that part of the reason the show worked was because he never considered himself a member of the D Gen.

“Neither party wanted that. I was the radio bloke and they were funny. It was not an overnight success, but it hit number one and stayed there ‘til they left to do The Late Show and other things called movies.”

In the years since, Kevin has gone on to work at sport stations SEN and RSN and currently hosts The Sideline View on Geelong’s 93.9 Bay FM, which he says came completely out of left field.

“It’s everything from local fishing to netball, soccer and of course the very vibrant and parochial Aussie Rules culture that drives the city of Geelong.”

Kevin is also heavily involved in podcasting, with a stable of shows including Life Of Brian, Food Bytes and Ruck ’n Roll.

He says while podcasting was something of a dirty word a few years ago, especially among radio people, that’s not the case now, as the industry embraces the extra possibilities it brings to the table.

“Radio has always adapted to changes from all other competitors and survived.”

“I think many radio operators have embraced podcasting as an extension of their radio content and that is healthy now, but I see more and more corporatisation of podcasts bastardising the product and that is not healthy.”

Kevin has precious little tolerance for the inflated egos and power trips commonly associated with radio.

I remind Kevin of a recent interview he did with 3AW’s Tony Moclair, where he talked about the importance of being a decent human being:

“You treat people well because you want to be treated well yourself. It’s as simple as that.”

Kevin is the first to admit he’s far from perfect.

“I look back and know that I have been the bully and the bullied, the ignored and the ignorer, the smartarse and the butt of the joke.”

He says blind ambition, perfectionism and self- importance are not validations for treating people badly.

“I think I have been mostly decent to people during my career but there were moments I am sure where others remember it differently.”

“It is disappointing that it still goes on today.”

Looking back, Kevin is happy with what he’s achieved, but says he’s always striving to be better:

“It has always been about the quality of work for me. The money has been both fantastic and pitiful. That little bit of fame and notoriety is good for upgrades on planes or a few freebies here and there.”

One thing he’s truly grateful for, is that his time in radio was not as ‘visual’ as it is now.

“I could go to the supermarket when I was the number one breakfast announcer in Melbourne and be as anonymous as the truck driver standing at the checkout next to me who was also getting bread, milk and ice cream.”

Someone who has known Kevin a lot longer than I have is Brisbane radio legend and close mate Ian Skippen, who tells Radio Today about their long standing connection:

“A lot of people wouldn’t be aware, but Kevin Hillier was a demon opening fast bowler for Everton District Junior Cricket Club, while serving up other deliveries on breakfast at Brisbane’s 4IP.  I know this as I was the opening batsman in the side as well as a radio competitor at Brisbane’s 4KQ.”

“It was early 80s when we formed a partnership that has endured to this time. Kevin moved to Melbourne and that was the end of our cricket team. Captain out, all out.”

“Kev is responsible for a big chunk of my career. We kept contact and I followed, with a degree of envy, his moves in Melbourne radio.”

“When Greg Smith reached out to me when Austereo bought Brisbane’s 4BK and asked me to join them to do mornings, I said yes, but only would jump ship if I could ‘do a Kev’ with a Morning Crew.”

“What followed was 16 years with the record busting B105 Morning Crew. What a ride. Thanks Kev.”

“Kevin from day dot has been fuelled by an amazing passion for his craft. He has taken the body blows that the industry can occasionally deliver.”

“Kev, congratulations on maintaining the rage for 50 years. You have professionalism and passion in buckets.  Passion can’t be taught, but it can be caught. Thanks for the deliveries, on and off the field. Luv ya work!”


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Terry Daniel
22 Mar 2023 - 7:50 am

Congratulations Kev on an awesome milestone of 50 years in radio – from your bedroom studio through all those stations and to podcasts today and more, what a fun ride and you got paid to do it (as said sometimes more than others) but the common denominator through all that is entertaining the listener – the key thing that you always strived to do!
Well done and keep on having fun … I can certainly relate!

Sam Robinson
22 Mar 2023 - 8:01 am

Lovely article Sarah Patterson.
Congratulations on 50 years in Radio, Kev.
Well done for an old “AIR-TV” guy. Cheers.

22 Mar 2023 - 8:52 am

What an occasion and what a team ! Big CONGRATS Kevin AND Sarah. Lovingly written story and a loving partnership, keeping the radio dream very much alive. Best, IAN.

Paul Walsh
22 Mar 2023 - 10:26 am

Great story, great career! (I’m sure you thoroughly ‘fact checked’ the details with the subject prior to writing!!)

Bob Gallagher
22 Mar 2023 - 11:08 am

Congratulations Kev, I still remember when you dropped in to 4VL on your way to your new job at 4IP, I believe it was your 18th birthday and you inspired me to get my ass out of there, awesome innings, Brother of Rock.

22 Mar 2023 - 11:14 am

Congrats Kev! Fantastic work mate. That pic with Susanna Hoffs!!! Classic.

Steve Visscher
22 Mar 2023 - 11:24 am

Growing up in the 80’s and being the typical teenaged devotee of the Fox Morning Crew from the time, Kevin was someone who stirred in me a life-long fascination with radio. That show was different from anything we’d heard prior, and left me with many fond memories that are held to this day.

Fast forward to the present, and I now find myself working with him every week. Would never have seen that coming! I consider it a privilege.

Congratulations Kev, on a wonderful career.

22 Mar 2023 - 11:35 am

Congrats Kevin! I remember doing work experience at MMM in 1993 and I sat in with Stubbsy and Mark Irvine but Kevin wouldn’t let me, saying he didn’t want anything to affect his focus. Always the professional! The next day when I was putting Stubbsy’s music away in the area to the right of the studio (out of sight of the console) I heard Kevin practicing each break in full before doing it live – as a young jock just entering the industry I found this a fascinating technique.

Michael J Ballingall
22 Mar 2023 - 1:05 pm

Congratulations to a great guy I enjoyed working with you and the team at triple M from 1990 to 1995

Craig Meddings
22 Mar 2023 - 1:56 pm

How good is it when you get to meet one of your true radio heroes and they turn out to be one of the nicest people you’ve ever met! I grew up listening to Kev and he was one of the few announcers at the time that truly inspired me to give radio a try. I’m lucky to have met and worked with Kev here at bay 93.9 Geelong where he hosts his weekly local sports show, “The Sideline View”. Congratulations Kev on 50 years and may you enjoy many more. You truly are one of the genuinely nice guys of the radio business.

Dave Williams
22 Mar 2023 - 2:29 pm

Congratulations Kev. Your legacy is strong at Triple M Melbourne. I’ve been a big fan forever mate.

Tracy Bartram
22 Mar 2023 - 3:00 pm

Congrats Kev, you wonderful human! An amazing career! Great article, Sar. Love you guys xxx

22 Mar 2023 - 3:17 pm

What a truthful read . . . In one of Kevin’s first jobs, I r3member him saying he always wanted to be in radio. Like many of radio people, we started in the coveted color radio network with the Allan Brandt logic, if you couldn’t say it in 15 seconds, it wasn’t worth saying. Kevin you are the legend and 50 years on, you are still on the riding the big horse called ‘the Wireless’
Cheers mate.

Shane Greely
22 Mar 2023 - 3:52 pm

Well done Kev on a marvellous milestone and for being a top bloke along the way.

Love & Kisses


Clive Wright
22 Mar 2023 - 4:48 pm

As well as radio Kevin, loved the work you have done over many years with the Western Bulldogs East West Club, what a great voice. Congratulations

Simon Gronow
22 Mar 2023 - 5:07 pm

Huge Congrats, listened to you back in the 3xy, MMM and Fox days

Bruce McCartney
22 Mar 2023 - 6:42 pm

OMG: congratulation Kevin, 50 years, what a great effort, and you still sound the same. Only last week, I heard your voice on a commercial played on 96FM here in Perth. I remember 4IP and 4BC situated across the road from each other in Wharf Street, Brisbane back in the early 80’s. So many wonderful memories from those days. Best wishes: Bruce McCartney.

Peter Morris
22 Mar 2023 - 7:25 pm

50 years….that’s impressive mate.
What a great journey through the heady days when 3XY and 4IP owned their respective towns and the radio guys were celebs.

And what I’ve discovered is all the survivors are just good blokes doing what they love.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a player and an observer….and have made some good friends along the way.

Congrats Kev. Keep doing it mate, because you are good at it and if it’s something you love why stop?

Cheers, Zoomer.

Peter Carey
23 Mar 2023 - 8:37 pm

What a wonderful read Sarah! Congratulations Kevin on 50 amazing years and still many more to come. One of the original Color Radio Good Guys.

Bernie Lindeman
17 Jun 2023 - 9:31 pm

Better by being three months late, than never 🙂
Fantastic article and congratulations to Kevin on a wonderful radio career.
I loved listening to Rocksat so much I would try to record it whenever I could.
I think I still have the one with Cheap Trick from 1988 on an old cassette somewhere!
All the best,
Bernie from Sydney

Peter Salaviejus
6 Dec 2023 - 10:38 pm

Great article, congratulations on 50 years on radio. Still listen to Kevin on Bay 93.9.


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