4GR 90 Years – Queensland’s First Commercial Station
It’s Queensland’s first licensed Commercial Radio Station and today on August 16 2015, 4GR Celebrates its 90th Birthday. The station was born on the 16th of August 1926 by Edward Gold.
The list of talent both On and Off Air who have worked at 4GR over the years is super long and here are just a few names –
Frank Warrick, John Williams, Russ Wilson, David Greenwood, Mark Irvine, Max Healey, Andrew Messenger, Lee Faulkner, John Scott, Andrew Chapman, David Greenwood, Paul O’Connor, Murray Shoring, Dales C Whyte, Jason Myatt, John Krosch, Scott Whitehouse, Richard Spears, Barry Coleman, Guy Dobson, David Burton, Graham Healy, Ian Holland, Ian “Bluey” George, Ewan Dixon, Gary Bowles, Wil Brakels, Brent Nance, Terry Kerr, Michael Beggs, John Eig, John Fielding, Dave Harris and Paul Bodington.
We have literally skimmed the surface… so many names have gone through the doors on the corner of Margaret and Burstow streets. But we asked a couple for their memories of working at 4GR.
John Williams: My time in Toowoomba (74-78) was pretty special for a young breakfast jock / PD. 4 great first time managers in Frank Warwick, Bob Scott, David Greenwood & Russ Wilson – one memory was our first survey in more than a decade when I’d got the entire staff excited that we’d get a 50% share (not sure where I got that number from – given there were 3 stations on the Darling Downs & Brisbane boomed into Toowoomba) . I think we got a 49.6% so you could imagine pretty happy days.
Max Healy: 4GR was a wonderful place to work. I came to the station in the late 80’s after having experience in a few decent markets including Wollongong. Russ Wilson was a very supportive GM and Garry an excellent PD. With talent like Russell McEwan, Graham Healy and John Krosch, and John Fielding surrounding you, it was impossible not to lift you game to a higher standard. Every one would give you supportive feedback, and I credit my time there as being key to the success in the rest if my on air and voice over work. Everyone at 4GR loved radio and and came across on air in return, Toowoomba loved 4GR.
Trevor Himstedt: My fond memories of working at 4GR include the great team that worked there, both on-air and behind the scenes. Aside from the announcers, there was manager Russ Wilson, P.D. Garry Bowles, Promotions manager Bill Merritt, John Fielding in production, Mirek Bambosek the copywriter, John and Dave the tech’s and a good sales team and office staff.
Back in the mid 80’s when I was there, GR still did the races on a Saturday with Pat O’Shea in the studio and Bobbie Mahoney calling at Clifford Park. Pat also called local football on Sunday afternoons. It was very much involved in the community broadcasting from the Toowoomba and Warwick shows…I also remember compering jobs for the station at the Clifton show, The Gatton Potato Festival and even out to the Chinchilla show. While I was there, Stereo A.M. was launched to great fanfare complete with a superhero mascot as the station became Superstereo 4GR. The 60th Anniversary Ball ( a separate event to the pick A box function) was a formal affair that featured Alyce Platt ( then hostess on Sale of the Century) singing accompanied by the 4GR Big Band. The Countdowns also played a few numbers with Russ Wilson on drums. I am pretty sure that all of the on-air team from 30 years ago are still all on-air at various stations with Graham still at GR of course.”
Russel McEwan: I’d been in the industry since 1978. Did the country stations like 4LG, 4GC, 4AYand later 4WK and 4AK. I did some retail sales as to fill in the gaps, but all was to change in 1987 when a call came from Gary Bowles, PD and MD guru.
It was at the time 4GR changed their format to Super Stereo. No Racing, no football just personality music radio. Sounded great! So I hopped on the bus to start what has been my greatest journey in radio.
A few Mid Dawn shifts, Copy Writing, Producing and later Drive and filling in on Breakfast and being Gary’s right hand man, and myself and John Fielding winning a few Goldie Awards along the way, it was Toowoomba Radio at its best. We were on fire! The undisputed Number One Radio Station. And it was FUN!
We gave away more money and prizes than Bob Dyers “Pick A Box”. So much so, incoming calls from listeners were so intense, the Toowoomba Telstra Exchange CRASHED on a number occasions. That’s how much Toowoomba and the Darling Downs loved us.
And we loved our listeners.
So thank you Ted Gold for warming the tubes of your first transmitter 90 years ago.
Without you and all of the amazing talented people I have worked with at 4GR, my radio career would have turned out like the “B” side of a 45.
Happy Birthday 4GR! Thanks for the memories and see you in 10 years for your 100th Birthday!
From my side of things I can say 4GR also played a pivotal part of my career. 4GR was my home for 5 years. It was where I learned the craft of writing under the eye of Mirek Bambosek and yes I still suck at spelling to this day. But what I am most grateful for was to learn about music under Garry Bowles. Garry was not only an exceptional PD and boss, his music knowledge was amazing as was his ability to understand the market. It was where I really got an understanding of the competitive market and survey.
One of the famous 4GR features every year was the 864 Countdown. It played the most ecliptic mix of songs ever. Songs that as a younger jock I had never heard of, but I will admit I stuffed up the order one year (I couldn’t locate the bloody cart) and didn’t the listeners quickly let me know on the phone. They were following it song by song from the local paper.
Garry also gave me a shot at creating a new night show – Club 864. It went to be number 1 as did every shift on the station – 4GR dominated.
Russ Wilson was the GM for my time at 4GR. Russ had a management style all of his own. He was always fair and always willing to listen and have a chat. Years later I would go on to to become a Group Program Director for DMG looking after some 20 or so stations and I would come home to Toowoomba and at different times and catch up with Russ and things were no different.
And there is one guy who was also a legend in my book, Station Engineer Mr John Eig. He loved his Coke, he loved his girls on the Gold Coast and he was quirky, but what Engineer isn’t? But he loved his station and the people he worked with. For many years after I left I would still call up John and all I would say is “Johnny Angel” and he knew exactly who was on the end of the line.
The current team at the Darling Downs Radio centre, lead by Ali Davenport put on a fantastic 90th Birthday Celebration on Thursday. Each dressed in clothing from an era of 4GR’s history over 90 years. People from far and wide travelled to be part of the celebrations. A big thanks to Ali and the entire team for being welcoming and allowing so many to celebrate 4GR’s 90th.
Here’s to 4GR and in just ten years I look forward to celebrating its 100th