It’s just not cricket: Radio campaign to return Kevin Hillier’s stolen gold record

Many of you will know, have heard, spoken to, and even worked with Kevin Hillier (who celebrated 50 years in radio in 2023) and Sarah Patterson (three decades a radio journalist and writer and editor for Radio Today).

Last weekend their Melbourne home was robbed, and some irreplaceable mementoes taken. I am hoping that the magical powers of radio and social media might be able to find these items and return them to Kevin and Sarah, where they belong.

Firstly, a little bit of levity – which we all need at moments like this. Did you know that before they were colloquially known as the Logies, during a period in the 70s the TV Week Awards included one for Most Popular DJ?

What? You want evidence? Well, thanks to the National Film and Sound Archives I can oblige.

Please, please watch:

Note Daryl Somers’ magnificent ruffled shirt and flares, and poor Marcia Hines thinking she has just one name to read out and getting six. See the wonderful awkwardness of the winners having to receive their awards handed to them in their seats. First up is a young Kevin Hillier for Queensland, and the award he is handed is one that was stolen.

And an ACRA! Both have his name on it.

While talking with Kevin and Sarah, Kevin said it took a little longer to realise something else had been taken off their wall. Just recently Sarah had recorded a promo for her Food Bytes podcast (if you haven’t discussed snot blocks with her, you MUST) where Kevin had posed by a framed picture of a gold Twelfth Man album he had been gifted by EMI for helping to break the record.

That was gone too.

Podcaster David Kowalski is celebrating songs turning 40 this year on Radioinfo. He recently turned his attention to It’s Just Not Cricket, from 1984.

As it turns out Kevin had been involved with Billy Birmingham in the process of putting together Austen Tayshus’s no 1 spoken word comedy sketch from the previous year, Australiana.

Radio stations had been given copies of It’s Just Not Cricket and had been reluctant to play it. Firstly because of the spicy language, and secondly because surely two spoken word and lengthy comedy sketches couldn’t both be hits in Australia?

Kevin listened to It’s Just Not Cricket and noticed similarities in certain lines of the dialogue he had heard Birmingham create for Australiana, and the then anonymous Twelfth Man. He called Billy and said,

“Mate, I know it’s you.”

And then proceeded to tell the shy and afraid of a lawsuit Billy that he was going to send a copy to (gasp) Richie Benaud.

It’s Just Not Cricket was to be officially released on a Monday. Kevin got a copy couriered to the Benaud household on the Friday before and then called Richie on his 3XY radio show to see what he thought:

Benaud apparently said:

“Mrs Benaud didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did. She found the language a little bit racy!”

I bet you all read that in Benaud’s voice too. That moment went viral (if that was a thing in 1984) and the associated media attention took the song/sketch/spoken word piece to No 1 for three weeks with the record going Gold. When Billy was to received his Gold record from EMI, Kevin was invited to come too, unexpectedly receiving his own one for his contribution to the album’s sales.

Kevin said:

 “You wouldn’t see Spotify doing that for a boost in sales of a song now. It obviously means a lot to me.”

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, if behaviour is not cricket it is not fair, honest or moral. These awards, and the record, are tangible reminders of great radio moments that mean something.

Kevin and Sarah are both still shaken with their dry wits intact. While recording an upcoming episode of his Ruck ‘n Roll podcast, Brian Mannix asked Kevin about his weekend. Kevin said it was not fun or funny and didn’t wish to talk about it. Brian, in his inimitable fashion said:

“You mean it’s not funny, yet.”

At a loss of what I could do I suggested to Sarah that we put the word out that Kevin Hillier is missing an ACRA, a Most Popular DJ TV Week Award and a Gold Twelfth Man album. All have his name on it. Kevin made me laugh by saying he’s equally worried that some Cash Converters worker will obtain it and say:

“That Kevin Hillier fellow must be going through tough times, trying to offload his ACRAs.”

Joking aside, industry friends, please keep an eye out. Thank you on behalf of two of the best radio people you could hope to meet.

Jen Seyderhelm is a writer, editor and podcaster for Radioinfo.

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