Veteran radio DJ spins a timeless record of Rock ’n’ Roll.
At the age of 57 and with more than 30 years of radio behind him, Pete Graham admits it’s fun being discovered again.
“They ring me up from all over the place, asking ‘ where’ve you been Pete, it’s great to have you back’,” says one of the original mister nice guys of local radio.
Pete hasn’t disappeared off the map by any means.. but it’s his new incarnation as a Mr Nostalgia on Sydney radio 2UE’s Saturday Night Live program that’s earning him a whole new legion of fans.
People sick of the meaningless blather and self-indulgent bilge of many of the FM stations can get a refreshing taste of old-time radio on Pete’s weekend spot from 6pm on Saturday to midnight.
If you haven’t heard a song that takes you back to the 50s and 60s for a while, then it’s a good chance you’ll hear it on Pete’s program at some time.
And Pete’s got the sort of silken voice and folksy manner that makes you feel you’ve known him for years and he’s genuinely interested in what you’re saying. Sometimes listening to his program you hear him greet an elderly listener for example and you think “I bet he’s known that old duck for a while” and then you discover he’s speaking to her for the first time.
It’s a rare quality on radio and it gives you faith that all is not lost in the medium..that all is not going the way of the unspeakably appalling FM hosts and hostesses who delight in plumbing new depths in utter bad taste, nauseating depravity and grotesque “nose picking, navel plucking” unfunny humour.
“Alot of the modern disc jockeys have lost touch with their public and consequently they’re not connecting…but you’ll find that the radio host who gets out and about with the people, he’ll be the one with the rising ratings, not the one who just plays off a string of hits in a row and then goes to a long ad break,” Pete tells Go55s in an exclusive interview in the 2UE bunker in Sydney’s St Leonard’s.
Pete, who was educated at St Joseph’s College, Hunter’s Hill, started off in radio in 1971 at 2MG Mudgee and later 2BS Bathurst, and says he still gets calls from listeners to his two original radio stations who say they’ve missed him over the years and they just want to have a catch-up chat.
Pete’s worked for more than a dozen radio stations over the years and was a top brekkie and morning DJ on the then high rating 2WS.
He’s hosted Carols by Candlelight at Parramatta Stadium in front of 35,000 people and runs his own highly successful club karaoke and cabaret shows.
His formula for success on his 2UE Saturday Night Live program, which has been running since last September, is simple.. play them the songs they want to hear… and his ratings have skyrocketed in that timeslot.
It’s no wonder…Pete’s manner and delivery make you feel he loves every one of the great hits he plays….and he’s got more than 30 years of fabulous music to choose from.
“We don’t have requests, that would mean the same songs are being played over and over again…but we do play a whole range of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s that people connect with…that takes them back to those days and which may have alot of meaning for them.
“We get alot of people phoning in..in fact we average about 400 calls a night, and we put about 90 to air…so that’s a pretty good cross section of tastes,” Pete says.
On any one night Pete might have a selection ranging from Bill Haley to Johnny O’Keefe to Col Joye, Cliff Richard and even some modern day entertainers such as Delta Goodrem , Daryl Braithwaite and country star Becky Cole.
But it’s the old rock and rollers that Mr Nostalgia is most famous for.. and every program he’ll get a call from one of the ageless luminaries of that era..recently he said he was talking on air to a real old foot stamper and keyboard pounder, Jade Hurley.
“I was so surprised to hear from him the first thing I said was ‘Mate I thought you were dead!’” Pete laughs.
Lucky Starr, Col Joye, Lonnie Lee, Judy Stone (who’s bravely fighting cancer), Johnny Devlin, Pee Wee Wilson of the Delltones, Marty Rhone…tune in one Saturday night and you’re bound to hear the voice of someone who made the music of the 50s and 60s so special.
“One of my old buddies is Frank Ifield and as a matter of fact last Christmas he brought along his mum to see the decorations we put up on my house every year.
“As far back as I can go, it’s always been a sort of nostalgia format for me..back in the 80s I originated the Jukebox Saturday Night Live series of old time dance shows which were recorded and which ran for 18 years.
“Most times the venues were packed out and I’d always have a lineup of top stars appearing such as Ray Brown, Laurel Lee, Col Joye of course, and many of the other Bandstand stars of long ago.
“It was an extremely successful format and sometimes I’d be getting up to 10,000 people packing the open air arena,” Pete says.
“These days there are other places such as Sydney’s 2CH playing the old numbers but really my program is the only one that goes deeply into the nostalgia theme,” he says.
Nostalgia’s a surefire winner too… and it shows in his audience which listens to his program from stations from as far south as Albury/Wodonga up to Canberra then far north to Townsville and Cairns.