40 Years in Radio News – Steve Blanda celebrates a mega milestone

Australia’s most awarded newsreader in the history of radio, Steve Blanda has racked up 40 years in the business. Kim Napier caught up with him. 

“It’s really hard to believe 40 years have passed – because I don’t feel that old!!” says Blanda.

“But when I recall what’s happened since that day – all the achievements, the highs, the lows, the friends – I’ve packed a lot of wonderful experiences into those years!!!”
 What are some of the more memorable news stories?
“THE most memorable is September 1983 when we won the America’s Cup. I was there for 2WS when we broke America’s 132-year strangle-hold on the Cup – and called the end of the deciding race LIVE – breaking into programs on a music station – and it’s network Australia-wide – for about  20-minutes after the 7am News.
“The Granville Rail Disaster of 1977 was the one which affected me personally – I was the first radio reporter on the scene – and spent the next 2-days on site reporting live for 2SM, it’s Network and the American ABC Network. A 2SM staff-member died in the crash, which really brought-home the enormity of the loss.

“The Olympic Games are also a highlight. I‘ve been to four Games: Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta for 2WS, and Sydney with 2UE. I covered  the Ben Johnson Drugs Fiasco in Seoul; Kieren Perkin’s  first Gold in Barcelona; the Bombing in Atlanta; and all the glamour of the home-city games in Sydney.

How has news gathering changed over the past four decades?
“It could not be more different.”
“Imagine – we had manual typewriters using carbon-paper for a second copy to read the “Network” news. Teleprinters in the corner clattered-away, churning-out reams of paper with AAP and UPI news-copy – to be re-written.
“There were NO mobile phones – we had two-way radios – the best reception was from the news-car – but the “walkie-talkies” worked if you were in an open space – or near a window!!! When we filed stories over the phone – you would dismantle the mouth-piece and use “alligator clips” to connect your cassette-recorder to feed audio to the newsroom.
“Now, of course, everything is computerised and so much FASTER. And Twitter gives you leads on stories INSTANTLY.”
What have been your biggest challenges?


“Keeping up with technology – and working with people who didn’t have the same passion as me!”
What’s been the biggest highlight of your career?
“As News Director of 2WS in 1996, taking-over the 2GB Macquarie News.
“When John Singleton bought 2GB he closed-down the newsroom to reduce the station’s huge losses. He bought a specially-tailored 2GB-Macquarie News from 2WS. I expanded the 2WS Newsroom – hiring extra staff – and provided that separate service until 1998. It was a “baptism-of-fire – because within days of starting-up, there was a massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania. We had no affiliate newsroom in Hobart – but had our own reporter on the ground within hours.”
What is your most memorable slip up or blooper?
You might find this hard to believe – but I forget about them within seconds of them happening – Although I’m reliably informed they’re few-and-far-between.”
How do you plan to celebrate your 40 years in radio?

“I hadn’t really thought about celebrating – I’ve been surprised by the reaction after the anniversary came-up by chance – while discussing the “good old days at 2SM” with my new colleagues at smoothfm.”


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