WENDY HARMER REFLECTS ON HER EXTRAORDINARY CAREER
Wendy Harmer is a game changer. She is one of the pioneers of FM radio for female presenters in Australia. She was the first female host to take a lead role in a key metro market breakfast show, and her ratings dominance in Sydney for more than a decade is yet to be matched by any female host on FM.
She began her radio career in the mid 1980s on Saturday nights at 3AK, and then moved to drive ABC Radio National. She was on the board of the first ever Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 1987, and even performed a stand up routine Harmer and Stubbs at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival with fellow game changers Richard Stubbs.
From 1993 until 2004 she hosted The Morning Crew on 2Day FM with Paul Holmes and Jamie Dunn (who was later replaced by Peter Moon). She has also made her mark as a children's writer (for the Pearlie, which has been turned into an animated show), playwright and dramatist. She returned to radio in 2016 as host of ABC Sydney's 702 Mornings with Wendy Harmer.
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3:45 Acknowledging he status as a pioneer in Australian Radio
5:34 Craig Bruce refers to his radio idol Ken Cunningham and asks Wendy about her start in life with a cleft palate
7:45 Describing how her father would make her read the newspaper aloud to practice her diction
8:37 Remembering her father saying her deformities were so bad that 'if she were a dog, they would have drowned it'
10:35 Explaining how a love of language can be instrumental to success in radio
11:20 Starting out at 3AK
12:08 Reminiscing about air checks at an Australia wide station and not being able to mention anything local
13:29 Recalling the (lack of) advice provided by her then Program Director
14:05 Recalling it was Richard Stubbs that moved her from stand-up to radio
14:35 Explaining how she also did a year stint on Radio National
15:57 Recalling how out of place the program was there
16:23 Interviewing a man who does bonding weekends for blokes
17:28 Explaining how she was poached for FM radio
18:30 Scoffing at the initial money on offer
18:45 Recalling the advice, air-check and fights with Program Director Brad March
21:28 Explaining why the goal and vision for the presenter and programmer must be in sync
23:00 Describing her time in stand-up and gatecrashing Richard Stubbs
24:06 Hosting 2DayFM with Jamie Dunn and Paul Holmes and fighting with Jamie on air about serious issues
25:59 Craig asking about trying to do pop culture instead of politics
27:15 Referring to the great resource of writers on the program
28:22 Explaining her love of talking to the audience
28:52 Explaining that no matter what is happening in your life, you have to set the tone on air
30:24 Sharing how important conviction and compassion are in radio
31:25 Understanding the importance of listening and relating in radio
32:19 Working with Peter Moon after Jamie Dunn departs
32:50 Believing that presenters in two different cities made the program better
36:36 Discussing the radio stunt Two Strangers and a Wedding
40:30 Remembering the day of the ceremony
43:00 Asking the question, is there a right time to say goodbye to your audience?
43:23 Being told she was too old to be doing the shift
44:21 Sharing her opinion on why management sack presenters
45:04 Figuring out what to do after 11 years of breakfast radio?
46:50 Turning down an offer to do 2WS breakfast
46:31 Remembering the longest six months of her life (on Vega)
47:47 Explaining how Vega wanted instant success but didn’t pay enough attention to making it work
49:28 Panelling a program at 61 years of age to do ABC radio
51:15 Discussing the perception of bias when she’s on air on the ABC
52:10 Discussing the Trump phenomenon
53:44 Providing or preventing access to stupid people on air
55:06 Craig asking Wendy for advice for other young women who want to make it in radio.