Vale Gary O'Callaghan | radioinfo

Vale Gary O'Callaghan

Saturday 19 August, 2017
Former Sydney radio icon Gary O'Callaghan has passed away, aged 83.

The Commercial Radio Hall of Fame recipient dominated  the Sydney radio scene at 2UE for three decades during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

He started his career at 2SM and joined 2UE in 1956 where he stayed until his retirement in 2003, apart from a short stint at 2KY during Kerry Packer's brief ownership of 2UE.

O'Callaghan moved back to the mid north coast of NSW and continued to work at 2MC.

Paying Tribute to O'Callaghan, Ray Hadley told Macquarie Radio News:

"This man was a legend... he was entertaining, informative and he was a really good bloke... I wouldn't be where I am today if not for Gary O'Calaghan."

In 2003, O'Callaghan told radioinfo how he got started in his career:

"I was covering the Royal Easter Show for 2SM, but a friend who was working with the Intelligence Services said he thought I might get a better story at the airport. So I took my wind-up recorder and broke a date with Dorothy, (who later became my wife) and out I went.

I was the only radio reporter there to get the Petrov scoop, and the story ended up going international.

In 1956 he was asked by Des Foster to join 2UE, just at the beginning of the rock and roll era, and, after a short stint in the newsroom, presented Australia's highest ever-rating breakfast program for 30 years. "I got £21.15 to move to 2UE, which was a big rise from the £18 I was getting at 2SM." At the height of his career O'Callaghan was making $200,000. "I hear the top breakfast announcers get a few more zeroes on their paycheck these days."

Gary and his helicopter riding side-kick Sammy Sparrow became legends and were heard by successive generations of Sydney radio listeners. "Russ Walkington had Gerald the Grasshopper in the breakfast show for the kids, but when Russ went to 2CH, the General Manager Alan Falkner called me in and said 'tomorrow you have to be something for the kids at 8.15' so I invented Sammy Sparrow. He was originally going to be a seagull... "

Read our full interview with Gary here.

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22 August 2017 - 12:15pm
We were never competitors he was always number one.
In the 1980’s Ian McRae ex 2SM and myself ex 2UW all worked together in the 2UE building. I had the pleasure in 2004 of sitting in Gary and Dorothy's lounge room at Sandcrox/Waughope and having a ton of laughs.
I will miss you Gary
You were always the winner, then you did have a 20 year start.
Malcolm T Elliott 2UW-2UE
13 September 2017 - 3:15pm
I am so very shocked and saddened to hear the news about Gary. He was not only a TRUE Legend, but also a Truly Wonderful person. I am very proud to say that we were good friends, and shared many great times together with Dorothy and the family when they lived in Turramurra.
I saw Gary on TV while he was doing the 2UE 90th Birthday broadcast, and I thought right then that I Must call him and Dorothy...just goes to show that we must act on those impulses, or forever regret not doing so in time, as I am doing right now.
I will be there at St. Mary's to join Dorothy and the family, and Gary's myriad friends and admirers, to bid Gary a great farewell. Rob E.
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