Laurel’s 30 years on 4KQ breakfast: “I’m very proud to have made it this far”
Laurel Edwards remembers going home after her very first breakfast shift at 4KQ and crying herself to sleep that night.
It was 1992, and – having just replaced Jill Ray – Laurel was only too aware she had some big shoes to fill.
Hosting alongside Kim Mothershaw that morning, she was a bundle of nerves.
“I took some live calls from listeners and most of them were very welcoming. They said they’d give me a go, but no promises.”
“One lady said ‘I’m sorry Kim. I just don’t like the sound of her voice. I’ll be finding another breakfast show to listen to.’”
Hard as that was to hear, it was merely a blip on the radar.
With her engaging, easygoing nature, Laurel would go on to become one of 4KQ’s most loved personalities, gaining the trust of listeners along the way.
Today, Laurel – mum of two and wife of country music legend Troy Cassar-Daley – can hardly believe this Wednesday marks thirty years since she first started setting the 4am alarm.
Laurel tells Radio Today “Although there’s no official Australian radio handbook, we believe this is a record. It’s definitely a milestone in Australian commercial radio and a big month in our household as Troy broke Slim Dusty’s record at Tamworth, collecting 40 Golden Guitars.”
When Laurel started at 4KQ, she was under no illusions.
“I thought, well, the entertainment industry can be fickle so I might last a couple of years.”
“I’m very proud to have made it this far.”
Half of those three decades on air has been spent as part of the Laurel, Gary and Mark Breakfast Show.
4KQ, she says, is family … and Gary Clare and Mark Hine are like brothers.
“I love working with Gary and Mark. We have a great time together. When things are getting me down, it’s like therapy for me.”
Having Troy’s support and encouragement along the journey has been paramount.
“When our kids Clay and Jem came along, Troy would pretty much do the morning shift whilst I was at work. He would make the breakfast and pack the school lunches and I would be there on weekends when he worked.”
“I remember one time, my holidays coincided while school was still in session, and Troy was away.”
“I was hopeless at the morning shift. The kids would say ‘Mum, you’re making it wrong … that’s not what we have for lunch.’”
There have been many ‘wow’ moments over the journey.
“As a child, I loved Top 40 radio like 4IP and 4BK and idolised Waynie Poo Roberts, Lee Cornell, Ray McGregor and Kevin Hillier. They were like rock stars in Brisbane. That’s where my love of seventies music came from. So I pinch myself now when I interview my heartthrobs, like Daryl Braithwaite.”
When Laurel was eleven years old, she wrote to the Sherbet Fan Club and asked Braithwaite to come to her 12th birthday party.
“He never did!” Laurel laughs. “Go figure.”
But her birthday dream DID eventually come true, with Troy arranging for Braithwaite to perform at Laurel’s 50th.
Meeting another childhood idol in Leif Garrett turned out to be an interesting experience in more ways than one.
“We interviewed him a few years ago about his book and he said ‘If you’re ever in LA, call me and we’ll go for coffee.’ Six months later we were, but I just couldn’t do it. It was all too strange.”
Laurel says probably one of the greatest ‘wow’ moments was when Barry Gibb spent the morning with the team on-air in the 4KQ studio.
“Growing up in Brisbane, Barry remembered 4KQ fondly, especially entering the 4KQ talent quest in the sixties with his brothers Maurice and Robin.”
Another career highlight was flying to London for the 25th anniversary of the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios and interviewing the likes of Michael Parkinson and Queen’s Brian May – after just one week working in radio.
“Brian May had only recently lost Freddie Mercury. The PR girl said ‘Don’t you dare mention Freddie or Brian will hang up.’ I was terrified and being so new to radio I thought I would be on the next flight home, but Brian was the first to open up about Freddie. He was very generous with his time and very forgiving of my green interviewing style.”
But her biggest standout moment was broadcasting from Nashville:
“Troy and I had moved the family there for three months in 2010. I had set up a makeshift studio inside a broom closet together with a little broadcasting unit. The technology was just amazing. It was like being in the 4KQ studios when I was sitting on the other side of the world.”
Laurel believes that the secret to longevity in radio is not to take it too seriously.
“Enjoy it for what it is, but also accept change. When Kim announced he was leaving, I thought I wouldn’t survive in radio. I soon realised I needed to accept change and believe in myself.”
Ironically, change is again imminent.
The day I spoke to Laurel about writing this article for Radio Today, she was only just coming to grips with news of SEN’s takeover of 4KQ, and the demise of her radio home of three decades.
That Laurel was so friendly and generous with her time despite her world having just been turned upside down speaks volumes for the kind of person she is, and why she is so loved on Brisbane’s airwaves.
The goal posts might have changed, but what will never change is Laurel’s proud legacy with 4KQ.
She plans to celebrate accordingly.