HO FM’s Rod Spargo clocks up 40 years in radio

HO FM Program Director Rod Spargo has just celebrated a milestone – 40 years in the Radio industry.

Looking back over his career he told radioinfo: “When you’re an announcer you talk about what you want to as a PD, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the chance to put those ideas into place.”

During Spargo’s early career, when he was at 3UZ hosting drive with Ugly Dave Gray, the comedian was live in the studio “about one day in every eight weeks.” At other times Dave Gray pre-recorded his voice breaks with Spargo, requiring his co-host to edit and cut up the tape to use during the shift when Dave Gray was not there. “Nobody picked that he wasn’t there, so it must have worked,” says Spargo.

In 1977 Spargo took on the challenge of programming 2UE. “Walking away from the peak of a Melbourne career was a risk, but in the end it was worth it,” says Spargo.

“John Conde and Stan Wilmot were prepared to back me. It was a fascinating time, when we got within striking distance of 2SM they pulled ahead again, that was until we bought John Laws.

“With O’Callaghan on breakfast and Laws on mornings we shot straight to number one. By the time the new FM stations got their act together I had already left. ”

Spargo left 2UE in 1983, moving to Newcastle to join a consortium trying to get an FM licence in that city. He also started and announcing school while there. Spargo was in Newcastle for a year, but when it became obvious the consortium would not win the licence he moved back to Sydney to manage 2KY.

“You give so much of yourself in the job of program director, but there is price to pay for yourself and your family. There came a time when we decided we wanted to look for a better lifestyle.”

Spargo and his wife Maureen, who is a Tasmanian, decided they wanted to move to Tasmania in 1989 for the sake of the family, so Spargo rang 7HO’s Paul Shirley to let him know he was coming to town, and found himself with the job back on air at 7HO, fourteen years after his last airshift.

“It was the chance to restart life here in heaven,” says Spargo. “Whatever you might lose in money you quadruple in lifestyle in place like this.”

radioinfo asked Spargo whether he has had any disappointments in his career.

“HOFM’s result in the recent survey was one of those,” he says.

But looking back, Spargo feels he has won more than he’s lost and that HOFM has got to be on the way up again next survey.

“We have some strategies in place for change, and when the next survey comes, sometime between June and August, I’m quietly confident that we will do better.”

The recent ratings decline for HOFM is as a result of changes made to long-time breakfast duo Cook and Moore. “The audience was telling us they had had enough, the program had been there for too long, so we had to make some changes, even if there was some short-term pain.”

The station now has a new breakfast team which includes half of the old duo, Richard Moore, who is teamed up with a crew that includes stand-up comedian and former solicitor Torey Hodgman (the daughter of high-profile Tasmanian politician Michael Hodgman).

“This time we haven’t fallen for the mistake of naming the show after the main personalities. It’s now called Homegrown Breakfast.”

What does Spargo like about his job after so long?

“I don’t know too many jobs where it is so much fun it doesn’t feel like going to work!”

But it’s not all fun for, as Spargo knows after so many years. “In this job the audience casts a vote regularly on how successful you have been, that’s another thing I like about it – you always know how you’re going.”

And what does Rod Spargo think of the prospects for his old station, 2UE, making a recovery after its recent ratings drop?

“2UE has a great heart and soul. It is resting at the moment and just needs a little rekindling, just as John Singleton has done for 2GB. It’s time will come again.”

Rod and Maureen Spargo have three children, Janine, Dean and Joanne. Joanne has followed in her father’s footsteps and is an announcer for ABC Radio in regional Victoria.

Rod Spargo’s radio career CV:

Feb 3rd 1964 started at 7BU Burnie.

1965 3YB Warnambool Announcer.

1966 7LA Launceston Announcer.

1967 2HD Newcastle Announcer.

1969 3UZ Melbourne Announcer.

1977 2UE Sydney- Program Manager.
(Promoted through Ass/Manager/Manager to General Manager December 1983)

1984. FM 2000 licence application Newcastle.

1985. General Manager 2KY Sydney.

1990 HO-FM Announcer.(1993 Program Manager)

1996(Twelve Months) Manager 7TAB Hobart. Activated a sleeping FM Licence which was sold to RG Capital(Magic)

1997 Back to HO-FM

2004 ??????