Michael Tetlow: “I love the immediacy of radio”


Having spent so long working in TV news, the transition to radio has been quite the learning curve for ABC Perth Afternoons presenter Michael Tetlow.

Yet, in many ways, the fundamentals are the same.

“It’s storytelling,” Michael tells Radio Today “Taking the most interesting and compelling subjects and presenting them in an engaging and entertaining way.”

“I’ve had a lot to learn but I’ve had an incredible team around me, helping me.”

And – eight months into his radio role – he feels like he’s finding his feet.

“There is intensity about radio that is quite different to TV in that you’re on the whole time, apart from the occasional song or news bulletin to give you a breather.”

In TV news, he observes, there are many packaged stories, giving the presenter time to gather their thoughts and prepare for what’s ahead.

In radio, a bit more thinking on one’s feet is required.

“The pace is quicker,” Michael says.

“But I don’t have to worry about wearing a tie, so that’s a bonus!” he laughs.

Michael grew up in Perth, in a family he describes as both artistic and industrious.

“My dad built the houses we lived in, and my grandfather played the drums in bands all over Perth.”

Michael was just eight years old when he decided that a media career was for him, and it happened the day his mum took him and his brother to sit in the studio audience for Fat Cat’s Funtime Show at Channel 7.

“At that moment, I decided I wanted to work in television,” Michael remembers.

Michael was part of the media studies program at Morley Senior High School, which – as luck would have it – boasted a fully functional television studio.

“We produced a weekly news program that was telecast live to classrooms all over the school.”

“That experience was pivotal to me deciding I wanted to work in the media and in particular as a journalist.”

In the same class was Jeremy Fernandez, who now reads Sydney’s ABC 7pm news and to this day remains a close friend.

As a teenager, Michael was single-minded in his focus to become a TV reporter.

“If I could give some advice to my 17-year-old self it would be: Just relax, young man! It will come to you in the end!” he chuckles.

Admittedly short on patience, Michael ended up doing work experience at radio and TV stations all over WA until – at the age of 20 – he landed his first job as a TV news reporter at GWN in Bunbury.

There, he found himself working alongside some of the best in the business.

“It was a magical experience being part of what was then a thriving television station,” he says. “We had a one hour news five nights a week, plus a kids’ show and production camera operators, and everything was recorded on tape!”

It was also incredibly hard work.

“We would travel for hundreds of kilometres each day and there was no mobile phone reception, no way to get vision back to the station – apart from driving it or flying it – and no email or internet.”

“Getting the news to air each night was a major undertaking, but so rewarding because in those days there were only two TV stations in regional WA.”

“Watching GWN or ABC News was the only way to see recent moving pictures from anywhere in the world. It was an important service.”

Though keen to eventually make it as a TV presenter, Michael’s appearance didn’t quite work in his favour.

“I looked too young, and I looked young for many years,” he says.

“I was so happy to get my first news reading job at the age of 32 at Channel 10.”

“But even then I looked a bit young!”

Having worked both here and abroad, Michael says he’s been privileged to have had a front row seat to some of the biggest events in the world.

“Those that spring to mind are covering the Olympic torch relay across WA for the Sydney 2000 Games, covering the demise and final flight of Ansett Airlines in 2001 and working at the Reuters news agency in London the day of the July 2005 terror attacks.”

Michael also covered Elton John’s wedding in Windsor that same year.

Having joined ABC TV in Perth as a presenter when the national Late News service began in early 2018, Michael’s biggest career moment came in 2022, when he announced the death of Queen Elizabeth.

“This was an event we’d planned for many years and the duty of announcing the Queen’s death was always going to fall to the most senior presenter available at the time,” Michael says.

“In the middle of the night, on that day, it was me.”

“Not many people were watching in the early hours, but the gravity of the event and the sombre honour we had as the national Late News team in Perth to make the announcement will always stay with me.”

Today, Michael relishes being behind the radio mic.

And he says Afternoons is a great place to get some relief from the grim news of the world.

“We tell interesting stories, funny stories, inspiring stories. And we don’t take ourselves too seriously!”

He loves the immediacy radio offers – and the interaction with his audience.

“It makes my day when I get a text message or phone call from a listener telling me how much they enjoy the Afternoon show and how it keeps them company. And that is a big part of why we are here. For companionship and community.”

For now at least, any future goals (or plans for world domination!) are firmly on the backburner.

With two sons aged 11 and 13, Michael’s priority is on the here and now, making the most of family time.

“For someone who has been so driven with my career for so many years, this is a bit of a change!” he says.

“I see this is a time to just do what I’m doing. I’m really loving Afternoons and I hope to continue it, making the best radio I can and making the most of such an incredible connection with our loyal ABC Perth audience.”

“When my boys grow into adults, then I might think again about trying to take over the broadcasting world!”

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Jason, Andrew Toppin from Mubarek Victoria
21 May 2024 - 7:41 am

I agree with Michael. I also love the immediacy radio because when I’m listening to nova I feel the answers are in where am With me Wherever I am like now they’re in the lounge room with me and I feel like they are talking to me but they’re not

Carl Corbellini
22 May 2024 - 9:37 am

Went school with your dad Charlie Tetlow funny lad back then and never a dull moment . Good vibes rubbed off onto you.
Well done to dad


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