Jason Morrison pays tribute to radio’s most enduring fan

I found out today that Australia’s oldest lady, and radio fan, Violet Robbins died recently at 112.

Vi, as she was known, lived in the Randwick area in Sydney and was a lover of “the wireless”. 

I once interviewed her for a special we did on 2GB and 2CH in search of the city’s oldest person. When we did the interview, Vi only just made the top 10. 

She had an amazing memory but I recall mostly her story of the first time she ever heard the crackling sound of a broadcast radio show… and the miracle that it was.

She said she remembered it “like it was yesterday” and believed that radio, more than anything, changed her world. I remember the smile on her face as she recounted that moment. 

She loved listening to 2CH in her later years and could name-drop just about everyone who’d been anyone up and down the dial over many eras.

We had a great laugh when we got her talking about Alan Jones. She’d been his listener from day one on 2UE and was waiting for him when he switched to 2GB but reckoned that he was “talking too quickly these days … or perhaps I’d just got slower at listening”.

I remember AJ having a good laugh at her critique! As a joke one morning, he wished her a happy 105th – slowly! 

Incredibly, Vi took up volunteering at the local Prince of Wales Hospital after her 100th and lived in her own home independently until quite recently. As I recall, she had an amazing old bakelite radio in one of the rooms which she said was “only switched off when the power went out”. 

She even made the Guinness Book of Records a couple of years ago for being the world’s oldest volunteer!

Violet was quite a legend around the Randwick area and it was quite an honour to meet her.

Listening to someone who’d seen so much of the world change, including two World Wars, men walking on the moon, her children and their children having children .. and yet, through her whole life she was still a little in awe of the voices coming out of the speaker from the simplest of all the mediums – radio. 

It reminds you that there still is something particularly amazing about the broadcasting business. 

Violet Robbins, probably radio’s oldest fan, called it “magic”.


 Jason Morrison

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