Thank you for the music: Will Brisbane give new format a sporting chance?
Brisbane radio legend Ian Skippen remembers wild celebrations on the banks of Breakfast Creek.
It’s one of the standout memories of his time at 4KQ, as he tells Radio Today:
“While branded ‘The Best Country in the World’ and programming country music we went to No.1 in Brisbane, knocking over the FM104 Rock in Stereo.”
As the end of an era looms, Skippen looks back fondly on his days hosting 4KQ breakfast:
“I have so many great memories of characters and wordsmiths, old school and uncool broadcasters and communicators.”
He says SEN’s acquisition – and plan to broadcast wall-to-wall sport – is a sad end for what has been a favourite station of Brisbane for decades:
“Sad for the long serving talents on air and behind the scenes. 24/7 sport will see tens of thousands of ears depart.”
Skippen says the platform established around the country by Craig Hutchison now adds a sizeable piece to his jigsaw.
“I wish them well but that format will never attract the numbers of 4KQ. But then they play a different ball game.”
Pete Rudder – drive host of 4KQ in the seventies – describes the station as a modern-day radio success story, and perfect example of a thriving adult music station. In a nutshell: Great music, judiciously placed for maximum local effect and a non-intrusive approach to news and commercial placement.
Rudder tells Radio Today that during his time at 4KQ – when Bill Riner was station PD – he was going through a bit of a hippy stage.
“Here I am on air during the week surrounded by commercialism, and at the weekend I’m running around with beads and cheesecloth.”
“I remember a lot of the stuff I had to do was live reads. One of the reads was the Bex commercial. ‘Take Bex. B-E-X. Bex is better!’”
“I had to do that every fifteen minutes. And here’s me, into naturopathy and whole foods and all that sort of stuff. So I would say ‘If you have back ache, muscular pain or neuralgia, please – go and see a naturopath or a medical practitioner.’”
“That went on for months and months before Dickie Swift (the manager) called me in and said ‘What are you doing??’ He went right off the deep end, as you can imagine.”
Being a self-confessed seventies-style tree hugger, reading ads for chainsaws also didn’t sit well with Pete.
“They were great times, because I had a lot of freedom there to do what I wanted, and I became quite creative in my own way. A bit too creative! Got myself into a bit of trouble. They were great days.”
Another standout memory for Pete was an O.B at the Ekka show in Brisbane.
“In those days they used to sell lots of live reads. So, in between the music breaks, you’d have to do at least six live reads, one after the other.”
“Can you imagine how exhausting that was? I mean, there I was, sitting in this little booth at the Ekka, with very minimal air conditioning, sweat running down my face, having to do six live reads after every two songs played. I was a bloody cot case when I finished! But that was the nature of the station back in those days.”
He says instead of being bitter about 4KQ’s demise, it’s better to look back fondly and appreciate how fortunate listeners have been to have had it for so long.
Voice actor Tony Bellette often found himself at the Stones Corner studios of 4KQ, and tells Radio Today his visits there remain a treasured memory:
“In my side of the business it’s easy to get the feeling that you’re just a voice for hire – you’re there to do a job and once that’s over you’re forgotten about. But at 4KQ I was always greeted as friend from front desk to production suite, from announcers, to writers, to audio engineers.”
“It was fun and I always felt I’d like to stay longer. I hope that feeling was reciprocated.”
On the SEN takeover, Bellette says “Like everyone, I’ll be watching carefully, but sport has never been a big ratings puller in Brissy so it’ll be a battle.”
“The thing is that, to many listeners, radio is their friend and the people they listen to, laugh and cry with can become close friends. There are going be a lot of sad people in Brissy when they don’t have their friends around anymore.”
In an interview with our sister publication RadioInfo earlier this year, 4KQ Music Director Brent James reflected on the station’s success.
“Listeners are passionate about the brand, a testament to the consistency of 4KQ over many years. Literally, many have grown up with the product and format for nearly 40 years and they know what to expect.”
It’s a feeling echoed by country music great Troy Cassar–Daley, who paid tribute to his wife, long-serving 4KQ breakfast co-host Laurel Edwards.
In a social media post, Cassar-Daley said the switch in formats will destroy a music station with nearly 70 years of history which has been the fabric of life for so many Brisbane people and families.
“When the switch is turned sometime in July from music to sport, that will truly be the day the music died in Brisbane.”