ABC sports legend Tim Gavel announces retirement

“I saw an advertisement for a sports broadcaster in Canberra with the ABC and decided to give it a go…”

Tim Gavel is known as one of the hardest working, nicest guys in radio.

In 2014 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal and he has received recognition from many organisations for his support to charities, sporting groups and community organisations in Canberra and nationally.

After an early career in commercial radio and tv, Tim joined the ABC in 1988 and, almost 30 years later, has this week announced his retirement.

Tim recalls his career highlights in this article for radioinfo.


Growing up on a farm in Condobolin, radio was vital connection to the outside world. Then as a teenager, I wanted to be in radio after work experience at 2SM in Sydney and 2PK Parkes.
2PK was the ‘big time’ from my perspective as it was the only commercial radio we could pick up when driving the tractor. 
Upon leaving school in 1979 I wasn’t sure how to achieve my goals, so I worked in a sports store while attending the Max Rowley Radio School at night. Not convinced that I was ever going to be in radio I headed overseas for a year. Upon returning, I was more determined than ever to be a DJ. I worked at Myers in the city and attended the RMK radio school near North Sydney with John Downs as well as a volunteering stint at 2SER.
Then armed with 40 cassettes produced at Audio Brien  (if my memory serves me correctly), I travelled from commercial radio station to commercial radio station in country NSW, sleeping in the back of my ute. I went to every station in NSW without success. I remember a few who offered encouragement including Strath Ward at 2GZ and Brian Neilson at 2DU.
I then headed to Queensland and after a number of knock backs on the coast I ventured inland. I ended up broken down in Charleville. My ute had lost its will to live and I was just about broke. I offered to do work experience at 4VL. Thankfully, the station manager said “yes” and after a week he said the manager at 4LM Mount Isa, a bloke by the name of Cyclone Williams, was looking for a night time announcer. I felt as if I had hit the big time playing country and western and hard rock six hours a night six days a week.
The next three years with the likes of Michael Anderson, Leon Delaney, Bruce Underwood and John A’Deane were among the best years of my radio life. During this time I also had short stints at 4GC Charters Towers and 4AY Townsville before returning back to the Isa.
From there I ventured down south to 2DU Dubbo with Rob Logan, Bob Moore, John Sparks, Peter Leslie and John Crosby. I started as the night time announcer before ending up in the newsroom. I was then poached by the late Peter Andren to replace Anthony Flannery at Mid State Television, as the Dubbo reporter.
In 1988, I saw an advertisement for a sports broadcaster in Canberra with the ABC and decided to give it a go.  When the then manager of ABC Canberra Steve Ahern gave me a call I had forgotten I had even applied for the job. Steve came to Dubbo to see me in action juggling council politics and the condition of the Dubbo sale yards.
As it turned out I got the job without having any real experience as a sports commentator but managed to convince the powers to be that I could master the craft. It turned out to be a lot tougher than I expected.
Almost 30 years later having, commentated at seven Olympics and seven Commonwealth Games, NRL Grand Finals, Wallabies, Socceroos, Netball, Rowing and Rugby Worlds, I can honestly say I am still learning. I wasn’t the most gifted commentator but I was determined to work harder than anybody else. I have learned from the best over the years: Ray Hadley, Jim Maxwell, David Morrow, Norman May, Bruce Webster, Drew Morphett and Tim Lane come to mind.
This week I decided to step off the treadmill and retire from full time sports broadcasting with ABC Grandstand. I may commentate in the future but I am not sure if it will happen. In fact I am not sure what the future holds at 56 years of age. I just felt as though it was time.
I can honestly say it has been the best job in the world. People such as Peter Longman, Bruce Webster, Karen Tighe, Gerry Collins, Julian Abbott and Michael Mason have been rock solid in their support and made my role as enjoyable and rewarding as it could possibly be.
Even though so much has happened in my career, I still vividly remember the day Steve Ahern came to meet me in Dubbo 30 years ago.


Tim has covered three Canberra Raiders premierships, two ACT Brumbies titles, seven Olympic Games and countless games of many sporting codes.

Tireless Tim Gavel, as he was called in a Canberra Times article, says the ABC “has been a wonderful place to work with incredibly committed people, I will always be grateful for the opportunities the organisation has given me.” He doesn’t know what the next chapter in his life will bring, but whatever it is, no doubt he will throw himself into it with the energy that he has shown over the last 30 years.

Tim will retire from the ABC in September.


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