Don Dawkins paddles into the sunset after 40 years in radio

Yesterday radioinfo announced the retirement of Capital Radio Network Group Content Director Don Dawkins.  

Don’s career started in Bega in 1974 and finishes 40 years later in Canberra, and we thought we should catch up with him before he jumps in his kayak and heads off into the sunset. 

Tell us where you started, and where radio has taken you over the last 40 years.

I started at 2BE (2EC) Bega in 1974.  I then moved to my shortest stint in Moree for 7 weeks before being offered a greater opportunity back in Bega where I also did my 100 hours on air marathon. 2ST Nowra was my next stop before joining 3KZ (Gold 104.3) Melbourne. Next was 2CC Canberra before accepting my first Programming role with the 2SM group at the Hunter Valley’s 2NM. I joined 2NX Newcastle as Music Director, then PD and subsequently Group PD responsible for 2XL Snowy Mountains, 2GN Goulburn, 7HT Hobart and 7EX Launceston.
The journey took me to the N.S.W. Central Coast as PD/OM with Coast Rock, converting the station to SEAFM.  I returned to Canberra as PD for 2CC along with 2GN/EAGLEFM and 2XL plus signing on SNOWFM.  I established my own consultancy in 1999 partnering with a variety of regional stations and working casually with Canberra FM, eventually becoming MIX 106.3 PD.  
In 2008 it was back to the Capital Radio Network as PD/CD of 2CA and Group PD/CD responsible the Snowy Mountains, Goulburn and 6IX Perth. With the arrival of digital radio in Perth and trialling in Canberra, created the My Perth and My Canberra digital brands.
Everyone remembers their first on-air shift.  Do you remember yours and did anything go wrong?
I remember walking into the studio at 5.30pm to take over from the drive jock at 2BE and heard the lyrics to “Star Star” from the Rolling Stones’ album ‘Goats Head Soup’ playing (Star F…er repeated numerous times is the main chorus of the song). So it was a memorable moment for my first shift…with only a couple of complaints. The remainder of the shift went off without a hitch!
What has been your most memorable moment in radio?  
There have been so many great moments but I guess one that stands out was the relaunch of 2NX as X13/X107, at the time a bold and innovative hit music format.
Most embarrassing?
After a few drinks at a night club on a rostered day off and being tapped on the shoulder and being asked to fill in at the last minute, which only lasted with me on the air for 10 minutes. Think the air check has well and truly disappeared.

You would have worked with so many different people through your career.  Does anyone one person stand out and why?
That’s hard to single out just one person as I have worked with so many talented and passionate people, a lot of which have gone on to highly successful radio and TV careers.
Are there any songs you used to love but now hate because you have played them too much on-air?
Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band
What has been your greatest achievement?
What immediately comes to mind is that I’ve been able to live the career dream and seeing so many of the wonderful people I have worked and played with going to achieve success in their own right.
What are your retirement plans?  
Initial priorities, get a bicycle and kayak and spend time with the family.
Any tips for people just starting their radio career?
Might sound like a cliché, “be yourself”; stand out from the rest…have that point of difference and remember, radio is still part of the entertainment industry.

Don finishes on June 30.  All the team at Radioinfo wish him the best in his retirement.

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