Triple M's Pricey looks back on over 40 years in radio | radioinfo

Triple M's Pricey looks back on over 40 years in radio

Wednesday 21 November, 2018

Steve ‘Pricey” Price has been in Townsville since 1982 and has done breakfast for almost 3 decades. 

He is the undisputed king of North Queensland radio, and as recently as last week was once again number one in breakfast at Triple M Townsville, formally 4TO.
 
Pricey has been involved in radio since he was 17, beginning in Melbourne.
 
radioinfo talked to him about how he got started
 
Pricey: There was a job going at 3DB for a panel operator and I was one of 90 who applied. I was only 17 but I applied for the job as the wonderful John Eden’s panel opp and to this day I don’t know why I got picked for the job.
 
My introduction was something like “Here’s a turntable, that’s a mic button…you’re in control.” But I got the job and that was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.
 
And because I was just a kid of 17 on my first job, I used to do the brekky show from about 3.30, then work until 1 and then just before 4 o’clock used to have to go across to the local pub, which was Lou Richards pub just over the road, and pick up the drive time announcer, Paddy O’Donnell, and bring him back to the station. .
 
I knew then I was going to love this business, if just for the characters I was going to meet.
 
John Eden used to call me ‘Odd Job’ after the James Bond character because I did a bit of everything.
 
radioinfo: So how did you get your first onair shift.
 
Pricey : There was a wonderful man, Brian Lehman, an absolute lover of radio, took over 3KZ, which was One Great Song After Another, and he put me on a few mid-dawns, so I was doing production and mid-dawns, which were long hours, but I just adored it, and then we did the very first Hit’s and Memories and we went to number one in Melbourne.
 
Sometimes kids today might turn up their nose at midnight to dawns, but it’s the greatest grounding to learn your trade and find out who you are.
 
You have a real relationship with the (Mid-dawn) audience because you’re up working at that time of the day when not many others are working, and you’re working with them so they would understand you more and you would be giving them everything you could and taking about life and making easy calls.
 
I learnt off the great Lee Murray, not that I realised what Lee was teaching me. He was a wonderful old theatre man who wanted you to learn to adlib, who wanted you to learn that radio is a one-to-one thing, and that’s what we have to realise in broadcasting, that’s what’s going to keep us going, we are the only industry that has this wonderful conversation art with our audience.
 
It’s the story telling, making people feeling comfortable and connecting with your audience. They give you the most expensive thing they have as a gift, their time, and what a gift, giving you their time, so you have to give them as much as you can in return.
 
radioinfo: How did you get to Townsville 
 
Pricey: I’ve been here 36 mango seasons, 27 on breakfast.
 
Well we all lost our jobs at 3KZ when they changed program director.
 
So I was 28 and this was pretty shattering for the six of us, but I thought this was my message, I could’ve stayed in Melbourne because this was the start of EON and FOX and there were a few little jobs going at them, but I took it as a message, put together a tape and Barry Bissell suggested Townsville. I’d never heard of it, couldn’t get any info on it, but sent a tape to Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.
 
I got a phone call back from 4TO because the production guy and night time announcer, one had gone on holidays and the other had left the station. Dave Perkins, who was the PD at 4TO tells a good story about when I first got there.
 
So radioinfo rang Dave, currently working at 4MK, and asked about Pricey’s arrival in North Queensland
 
Dave Perkins: I was looking for a new jock, and in those days you got an aircheck on reel to reel tape, and I received one from Melbourne, and the guy sounded hot, he was slick and I thought, wow, this guy’s really good, and you can usually tell in a minute or so if they’ll be any good.
 
So I offered him the job and he flew up on a Saturday afternoon and a couple of colleagues of mine, John Hubbard and Bruce Turnbull met him and took him over to the old Lowth’s Hotel in Townsville for a few drinks through the afternoon and on into the evening.  At about 11 that night the mid-dawn announcer rang to say he was sick and couldn’t go onair, so I rang Hubbard and said, “Can you get that new guy Price and tell him he’s onair.”
 
Hubbard and Turnbull tell Pricey he’s onair, only to find out that that fabulous air-check Steve had sent was heavilly edited in his Melbourne production studio and his onair experience was nowhere near what I’d been led to believe.
 
Well the boys got 3 pizzas, took Pricey into the station and talked him through his first shift and I didn’t find out about it for 3 months.
 
The one thing he never lacked was positivity and that got him through.
 
Pricey :  I was a local from the first day, I loved it. There was no money, but we just didn’t care. There were 5 announcers living in one house because we just couldn’t afford it.
 
I went everywhere from fetes to dog shows, butchers to the Burdekin, but that’s what radio is.
 
radioinfo: You’ve been really successful in Townsville, so what advice can you give young aspiring announcers
 
Pricey: There is no success in mediocrity. Decide what you are and go for it. I decided what I would be 36 years ago and I’m still the same, a positive, bright, tropical bloke that hopefully people can relate too. I’m in my 60’s now, but I think I’m that same as I was in my 20’s.
 
I love being a part of people’s lives. You know at breakfast, the time when they are making decisions on their day, the time when they’re doing it a bit busy with the kids screaming, getting ready for work…to be a part of their life and to talk about the things that maybe they are talking about at the kitchen table.
 
I take a tiny digital recorder with me everywhere so that I can make notes if I see something, or maybe do an interview at a fete or something I am compering.
 
For me breakfast radio is all about the unpredictability of a shift and having a laugh about myself. It’s got to be relevant, but it’s got to be fun too.

My mantra has always been, “they may not remember what you say, they may not remember what you do, but they will remember how you make them feel.”
 
radioinfo: So what about the change of 4TO to Triple M Townsville
 
Pricey: When they first came to me and told me what they were going to do I was shattered, because I loved what 4TO stood for, for decades.
 
But once they explained it, I understood. They told me just to continue being Pricey, that they wanted the station to be part of the Triple M network, but they wanted me to be just the same.
 
In the end, really all we did was change the colour of the paint on the door of the old Queenslander that houses the station. Inside it’s just the same, and that’s what’s really important.
 
 

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