Pure genius: Inside the radio phenomenon that was Martin Molloy


When Tony Martin got married, it was a quickie wedding. He didn’t have much choice, really.

Such were the demands of the radio juggernaut that was Martin Molloy, Martin and his wife ended up tying the knot at a drive-thru chapel in Las Vegas.

“It was just a four-year frenzy that left little time for anything else,” says Martin as he reflects on one of the most groundbreaking shows in Australian radio history.

Those who worked at Fox FM headquarters in St Kilda Road in the mid ’90s remember the familiar sight of Martin pacing up and down the studio airlock, Spirax notepad in hand, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing … until the last song was fading out and the next segment was about to begin.

Former Martin Molloy producer Peter ‘Gracey’ Grace says being in Martin’s presence is the closest he’s ever come to working with a genius.

Paired with the blokey, boisterous humour of Mick Molloy, it was a recipe for radio gold.

It’s now 29 years since Martin Molloy first hit the airwaves.

The show was broadcast over four years from 1995 to 1998 and was networked into every capital city, as well as 47 regional stations.

But it almost didn’t see the light of day.

Whilst Tony and Mick had already enjoyed huge success with The Late Show on ABC TV, they’d been unable to get their own television show up.

So they re-fashioned their idea into a radio show and pitched it to Triple M.

Despite their previous success at the network with The D-Generation and Bulltwang, Martin tells Radio Today “To our surprise, they rejected our idea – basically the same kind of comedy we’d done in Breakfast, but for people driving home.”

It was around this time that Gracey, by chance, bumped into Mick and Tony in the corridors of Fox FM.

Part of the stand-up comedy circuit himself, Gracey already knew the pair.

He tells Radio Today “Mick and Tony had just done an audition for Triple M and been knocked back by an exec who said ‘Yeah, I can see what you’re trying to do, but it’ll never work.’”

Gracey says he headed straight to the office of then-Austereo programming boss Jeff Allis.

“I said ‘Don’t let these guys get away.’”

Martin was about one month away from moving back home to New Zealand.

A last-ditch pitch was organised.

Molloy tells Radio Today “I remember the pitch taking place on bean bags in a shared household in South Melbourne, which was funny to see … the heads of the network sitting around on bean bags.”

“I’m afraid I really have no memory of that meeting – or the bean bags,” says Martin. “I do recall that it was, for me at least, a bit of a last chance.”

“Thank God for Brad March, who decided to take a punt on our mad idea.”

March was Austereo’s Group Content Director at the time. He hired and oversaw the Martin Molloy show for four years.

March tells Radio Today “Martin Molloy was one of the greatest radio shows of all time.”

“It will never be repeated.”

Martin Molloy would run for two hours, not three, as their philosophy was ‘Two hours is a show. Three hours is a shift.’

The show didn’t have the vast bank of producers you might expect in today’s radio setting. It was written entirely by Tony and Mick, with just one producer.

“I was really just their button monkey and audio mixer,” says Gracey.

Martin Molloy had just one assistant in Emma Moss, and then later, Sancia Robinson.

Audio producers Scott Muller and Vicki Marr worked on the sketches and TV veteran Pete Smith delivered the voiceovers.

Up to that point, Gracey had thought the best job a person could have was one in which you listened to music every day.

“I then discovered the best job a person could have is one where you laughed every day.”

“And I did. A lot.”

“Martin Molloy was the most fun I had in all my years in radio.”

And all this pre-internet, long before the era of Google and YouTube.

“There were no clips or social media,” says Martin. “You still had huge names coming out from Hollywood to promote their projects.”

Which was great for a self-proclaimed film nerd like Martin.

“I remember in one week we had Tim Burton, Peter Jackson and Wes Craven on the show.”

“But we would also have mad guests like ‘Mr Methane’, and Joey Pistone, the real-life Donnie Brasco still in the witness protection program, taking part in our idiotic wheel segment.”

The late Paul Hester was the ‘third horseman’ of the show, which also brought cult figures like Dave Graney to a wider audience.

“Everyone was dragged into the comedy,” says Martin.

Announcer Andy Grace – who would occasionally fill in for his namesake Peter – will never forget the day Mr Methane rocked up to the studio.

“He was dressed in a rubbish superhero costume with his name written in Texta and a red cape. He pranced around the place like a crap ballerina and quickly proceeded to show the boys his audio ‘skills.’”

“For those not in the know, Mr Methane’s claim to fame was reimagining the long lost art of ‘rectal breathing.’”

“There I was, preparing for my 6pm airshift, when I was struck with the image of this odd fellow contorted like a yoga master with Peter Grace on a handheld mic pointing directly where the sun don’t shine, and all the while this character was trumpeting along to a song … in tune! Well, sort of.”

“I made a mental note to never again use that particular microphone – under ANY circumstances!”

Of Tony and Mick’s on-air pairing, Andy says “It really was ‘the odd couple’ and an amazingly different approach, but it worked so well.”

“I’ve never seen radio presenters work so hard in all my life. They were truly masters at what they did.”

The Martin Molloy magic famously happened not in the actual offices of 180 St Kilda Road, but in a demountable shed.

A 30 tonne industrial crane was hired to haul the shed several storeys high and deposit it on the famous Fox rooftop.

March remembers one particularly strange executive meeting in the Martin Molloy shed.

“Tony and Mick made Peter Harvie and I sit on tiny children’s chairs.”

“Here we were, two grown men in suits, sitting on chairs made for three year olds.”

Molloy says that meeting of the high-powered Austereo execs in the ‘toddler chairs’ was one of the great highlights of his time working on the show.

“Me and Tony I raced down to a children’s shop and bought tiny furniture, set it up in the shed, and made them sit on little chairs, which made us laugh enormously, because it’s amazing how the power drains out of a man when he’s sitting on a toddler’s chair.”

Martin Molloy would pave the way for another radio powerhouse in Hamish & Andy.

But in many ways, the two shows were like chalk and cheese.

“People love to compare us to Hamish & Andy,” says Martin. “But our show was a lot weirder than that, mostly consisting of written comedy segments, with very little stuff from our real lives.”

“We never talked about our home lives or relationships – unthinkable now – and I wasn’t even using my normal voice, as I was still half stuck in my old ‘Fat Man’ persona from the breakfast show.”

Martin says the show was also very political, something that would be discouraged now for fear of alienating half the audience.

“That said, it could hardly be considered highbrow, as one listen to The Brown Album or Poop Chute will confirm.”

For former Triple M newsreader Catherine Garrett, being the voice of Mrs Wedgie on The Brown Album remains a source of great career pride.

Garrett says “It was always a very Wedgie Christmas when I was called into the recording booth to voice some cracker lines as the fabulous Mrs Wedgie alongside Tony and Mick.”

“They were lovely to talk to, whether recording or just chatting, and generous with their radio advice whenever I asked.”

“To watch them at work and their incredible skill was a joy.”

But Martin makes no bones about the fact it was bloody hard yards.

Tony and Mick would start writing at 10 in the morning and still be working at midnight. The creative process was split 50/50 between them, due to the sheer volume of writing involved.

Apart from when Tony and Mick were talking to callers or guests, many of the conversations listeners heard – which sounded spontaneous – were, in fact, scripted.

“It was such an elaborate show to produce that the only real fun we had was during the two hours we were on air,” says Martin.

“That fun turned out to be infectious and the callers from all over the country really got onto our ridiculous wavelength.”

Tony and Mick revolutionised the FM Drive shift.

They always trusted the concept would work, for the simple fact that Drive time comedy shows weren’t a fixture on the Australian radio landscape at that time.

To Tony and Mick, that made no sense.

Molloy says “I remember explaining that if people have to drive to work, they have to drive home from work.”

“I suggested they (radio executives) should have a crack at doing pretty much a Breakfast show in the afternoon, which eventually became the template for what we consider to be a Drive show now.”

Martin says “We always pictured someone stuck in peak-hour traffic on the drive home and rather than listen to endless depressing news radio, wouldn’t they like to hear Pete Smith roller-skating around all the speakers in their car?”

“But we never imagined that it would end up on sixty stations!”

“Thankfully, it rated almost immediately, so we were pretty much left alone for four years.”

In the end, the monumental workload the show demanded became impossible to sustain.

“Clearly if it hadn’t been so work-intensive, it might still be on now!” says Martin. “But the problem with that kind of show is that the more successful you get, the better the show has to be, which means more writing, more production, more ideas.”

“It was a massive show, but it was made by a tiny team, with support from Brad and the late great Peter Harvie. No-one else was involved (aside from the many panel operators in every state).”

“And we weren’t distracted by TikTok or Instagram or making on-line video clips, so we could concentrate on making it an audio-only experience – real ‘theatre of the mind’ stuff – which was what interested us most.”

Starting out in Sydney and Melbourne, by the end of its second year, Martin Molloy was being heard on dozens of stations nationwide five days a week with a ‘best of’ edition on Saturdays.

“The standard was exceptional,” says Gracey. “The guys worked incredibly hard to maintain it.”

“They set out to create a workload they could live with for one year and ended up doing it for four years.”

By then, they’d reached their limit.

Of their decision to call it quits in 1998, the pair said at the time “Usually, when a show like ours pulls up stumps, it’s because the idea is exhausted.”

“In this case, it’s the participants who need a lie-down.”

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Chuck Tuna
1 May 2024 - 12:10 pm

Brilliant creative radio and not a dick joke in sight.

1 May 2024 - 12:33 pm

Still listen to their CD’s every now and then.
Tony Martin is the KING.

1 May 2024 - 1:08 pm

They dont make radio like this a more. Hey Tony and Mick how about a podcast ?

Liam Hair
1 May 2024 - 1:21 pm

This was peak radio before gutter mouth radio became the hip thing in the following decade
great comedy and inspired the iconic Hamish and Andy

1 May 2024 - 1:29 pm

Why don’t we have comedy on radio like this anymore?

1 May 2024 - 2:18 pm

Without these two there would be no Hamish and Andy. Please guys one more show you could do for charity. Punters would donate on go fund me.

1 May 2024 - 3:02 pm

These guys would kill big Kyle and Jackie O in ratings and content. No contest.

1 May 2024 - 5:25 pm

About time they were put into the ACRA radio hall of fame, they deserve it.

1 May 2024 - 6:20 pm

Yes !! Hall of Fame please.

Pete the C
1 May 2024 - 6:57 pm

and the 1 radio show to have had a comic book based on them, which was created by a listener. you should listen to the podcast called champagne comedy. its a bunch of friends talking about the dgeneration and the late show stuff. it goes a bit long in some episodes, but its great to hear other fans talk about a legendary time in australian comedy.

1 May 2024 - 11:20 pm


2 May 2024 - 12:37 am

It’s a line ball call Martin and Molloy compared to Hamish and Andy.
I would go with Martin Molloy they were first but full credit to Hamish and Andy very funny guys.

Jason, Andrew Toppin from Mubarek Victoria
2 May 2024 - 5:39 am

Martin Maloy was GOOD radio. Many people like it ratings proved to be such. Don’t know if you would be the master of Loy off today. There are three people hosting live on Nova but to on Fox and kiss three hosting drive on over Ricky Lee Tim and Joel

2 May 2024 - 8:33 am

Back in the day when the networks actually took risks. These days Kyle, Tony, Mick, Marty wouldnt get hired anywhere.

2 May 2024 - 3:28 pm

These two were also instrumental in building the Today/Hit Network we know today. Before M/M pretty much all weekdays were live and local and only weekends were networked with shows like Take40, Pillow Talk, Party Hard, and Hot Hits. Each station had their own Hot30 before Ugly Phil came along.

2 May 2024 - 4:45 pm

Martin Molloy are the best ever – thank you for the trip down memory lane!
Anyone know if Tony and Mick are back on speaking terms yet?
Such a shame they fell out.
A joint interview would be amazing.


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