Lee Simon: Sliding Doors
Consider this for a moment. If not for the Vietnam War, the radio landscape in Australia could look very, very different. If not for the Vietnam War, we might not have had Eon FM or Triple M.
They’re pretty big statements, but one of those ‘sliding door’ moments could have meant a very different career path for radio legend Lee Simon.
He’s been on the air ‘forever’. He was a jock in the halcyon days of 3XY, moved across to TV to present “Night Moves” and was there for the launch of EONfm, later morphing into Triple M. And he has the social upheaval of the Vietnam War to thank.
“1972 was the year I first started working in radio at 3AW. I’d been one of many eager students at the 3AW Radio School and ended up working as a panel op thanks very much to conscription. It’d had pretty much depleted the ranks of their panel operators”.
“It was a ‘sliding door’ and who knows what would have happened. I’d either still be where I am or I’d own my own island somewhere in the Pacific had I followed the accountancy/economics path I had been walking until this came along”.
While Lee is synonymous with Melbourne radio as a ‘rock jock’ at 3XY and EON fm and later Triple M, there was a brief moment when he could have been a news reader/journalist at the very ‘serious’ 3AW.
“I was on breakfast panels with Peter James as the breakfast host. Ironically, I work with his Grandson these days. Somebody at the radio school was aware that I was interested in the on-air side of things”.
“This was back in the La Trobe Street days of 3AW. The breakfast show started at 5am and I’d get in just before 4 o’clock. As I wandered up the little cobbled stone lane, I’d stick my hand through the newsroom window and would be handed news copy. So, I’d sit there and read the 4am and 4.30 bulletins, before John Worthy – a proper newsreader – sat down at the 3AW microphone and delivered the news in a professional manner”.
As it turned out, the siren’s call of ‘DJ-ing’ saw Lee give up on his nebulous news career. He also ditched the on-air name Leo Simon.
“I’ve always had an interest in journalism, but I was more interested in being on-air than being a journalist. My passion was music and I wanted to get into music radio to present on air. That was my overall driver”.
That passion has seen Lee through four decades or radio and countless jocks and newsreaders. Yet, he’s not been inducted into the Commercial Radio Australia Hall of Fame. He shrugs it off with “someone’s gotta nominate me.”
Maybe this year.