SAFM hits quarter of a century

Adelaide’s SAFM celebrates 25 years on air today. It is the last of Australia’s original group of commercial FMs that went to air in 1980.

The station’s original official call sign, 5SSA, was used for its first two years in the form “Double SA FM,” until it was rebranded SAFM. On launch day, a nervous Adrian “AJ” Johnston was selected from the original line-up to play the first song, ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits.

Like most of the original FMs, Double SA had a long and varied playlist dominated by album music. The announcers were cool and laid back with very little talk. The rule being – only talk if there’s something worthwhile to say.

Apart from AJ, the other originals included: Mark Carter, David Day, Peter Idol, Ric Jones, Chris Tangey, Andy Walker and Jeff Warden, who was also the PD.

Bill Page was Music Director, John Williams looked after news, Des Decean, Chief Engineer and DMG’s CEO Paul Thompson was the General Manager at the time. It was Thompson who put the stereo station to air back in 1980 and launched what became the Austereo network.

Former first day presenter Chris Tangey has told radioinfo this story about the change form the Double SA to the SAFM brand:

Paul later changed it to SA FM with the launch of the new logo in the boardroom one Friday afternoon. I told him in front of the rest of the staff that it was crap and 70s retro, which is probably why I never got a promotion!

An aircheck of SSA FM’s opening minutes can be heard on Wayne Mac’s website (click below).