Interview by Anna Rizzo-Tassone
From pirate radio in the UK to community radio in Sydney’s Inner West, host and Breakfast Point resident John Dale knows a thing or two about keeping an audience tuned in
From its Burwood studios, radio station 2RDJ-FM at 88.1 MHz FM has been the voice for the Inner West since 1983, embracing the community’s cultural diversities and supporting local businesses, facilities and events. The award-winning station currently has three Breakfast Point residents amidst its volunteer roster. One such devotee is John Dale (pictured above, with Catherine Crosse), who lends his technical expertise and golden vocals to host the popular show, Classic Tracks.
What is your role at 2RDJ?
“I’m the technical officer, which means I keep all the studio equipment and computers going.
We broadcast around 80 hours a week of locally-produced programs, supplemented by content from Community Broadcasting Services. I host a Saturday lunchtime show called Classic Tracks.”
What motivated you to volunteer?
“After semi-retiring and downsizing to Breakfast Point, I wanted a volunteer role where could I use my engineering and radio skills, as well as have some fun with a community group.”
Had you worked in radio before?
“Radio 2RDJ is actually a return to my roots. I was involved with the pirate radio scene in Britain in my youth. It was all very exciting breaking new ground for commercial radio in the 1960s and ‘70s.”
How do you prepare for a show?
“Classic Tracks is very interactive, with music trivia quizzes, requests, terrible jokes, and shout-outs to regular listeners. It’s great fun preparing each week’s features and putting together a mix of classic pop tunes from the ‘60s onward, but it does take a while to get it ready.”
What gongs has the Radio 2RDJ received?
“We’re very proud to have won Outstanding Small Station in the 2017 CBAA Community Radio Awards, and in 2019 our very popular show, Ireland Calling, was recognised for Excellence in Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasting.”
Can you tell us about some of your famous outdoor broadcasts?
“Around April 1 each year, my program goes all-out to present a special edition. So far, we’ve broadcast live from an airship over Sydney and a boat anchored five kilometres offshore. Last year, due to COVID, it was an international all-star ‘live show from Burwood Stadium’ with guest appearances by the Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, ABBA, and The Beatles.
I won’t confirm or deny whether we were stretching the truth a little with that one…”
Can anyone apply to become a disc jockey?
“We’re always looking for more presenters and offer free training to anyone who aspires to be on the radio. The main requirements are that they be enthusiastic, eager to learn, willing practice, and have a great personality.”
Catch John Dale’s Classic Tracks each Saturday 11am-1pm, repeated Wednesdays 1-3pm.