It is often the 50’s rock ‘n’ roll musicians and the bands that are remembered and revered. But in any place in the world you will find one or two key people who have had a significant impact on shaping the and roll scene. They are often the people who through their knowledge, influence and positions give bands and artists their first opportunities, their big break and where they recognise talent they provide the support and promotion. As a popular radio announcer and events organiser Colin Nichol was one of these people.
In 1957 Colin Nichol started as an announcer with 6PM Network (including regional relay stations 6AM Merredin, 6KG Kalgoorlie and 6GE Geraldton), just in time to catch the musical change from Guy Mitchell and Rosemary Clooney to Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and the shift from 78’s to 45’s.
Colin introduced the full range of station programs including breakfast programs but was found most regularly doing afternoon shows. These included children’s, community and multilingual programs as well as middle of the road music and country listener sessions. He was well known for the popular request-based show "Tunes for Teenagers". During this time Colin also wrote advertising copy, dealt with correspondence and organised concerts and dances.
In 1959, as leading State DJ, Colin was chosen as State President of the Coca-Cola Bottlers Hi Fi Club. This was a world-wide teenage radio club co-ordinated by an advertising agency in New York. It also operated in other Australian States (Bert Newton ran it in South Australia). This major international advertising campaign brought new insights to Western Australian radio listeners. It featured exclusive star interviews, competitions, novelty effects and American and British imported records not heard before in the State. It was, for many, a window to the wider world. One of its influences over local record distribution was to speed up release of international records. These programs gained a large following.
Colin took over, for the Hi FI Club, the Embassy Ballroom dances in Perth which had recently been launched by Coca-Cola Bottlers Perth Pty Ltd in association with Radio 6IX and Johnny Fryer. Up to about 1500 people would attend these dances on a Saturday afternoon. Colin's role expanded to organise and run other dances around the metropolitan area and in some country towns including Narrogin, Bunbury, Katanning and Albany. Bob Purvis of Purvisonic Sound, with his (then) advanced sound systems was a key player in the presentation of these dance concerts. These were among the first of their kind and a part of the music and dance revolution that was going on.
The careers of many local bands and artists started at these shows, including Bill Blaine and the Dynamics, the Hi-Five, Noelene Batley, Brian Davies, Pam Bradley, Janice George, Clive Higgins and the Zodiac All-Stars, Clem Croft, Paul Gadenne - and Johnny Young the office boy at Radio 6PM, who came second to Peter Anderson in one of the many very popular talent quests that were run.
Colin's influence in the industry was significant and he was involved early on in programming the music and arranging the artists for the new Channel Seven show "Teen Beat" for Max Bostock. Colin was the only one who had the knowledge or contacts at this time. He would type out "Teen Beat" program’s schedule at the 6PM office and the band would then take it to the TV station.
In 1960 the Coca-Cola organisation transferred the Hi Fi club to Radio 6KY as they felt that it was a more progressive station and one that rated better in listener surveys. This move resulted in a stunning pay rise for Colin of five Pounds a week.
Colin compered many programs while with 6KY including Saturday evenings, then still a worthwhile night for listeners. However, he still had a long Hi Fi Club session on weekdays, which had an associated organisation backing it. The 6KY and the Hi Fi Club were top-rated in WA and the dances and shows continued. Club membership went into many thousands.
The Club was involved in introducing many rock and roll shows and individual artists to WA and organising and compering their shows. These were at the Capitol Theatre and Embassy Ballroom and included Col Joye and the Joy Boys, Dig Richards, Crash Craddock, Judy Cannon, The Crickets, Bobby Rydell, Johnny O’Keefe, Pat Boone, Brenda Lee, Duane Eddy, Cliff Richard and others supported by local acts. Cinemas were block-booked for special showings of films for members and bands were featured, usually Bill Blaine and the Dynamics, at the Wirrina Drive-in on Sunday nights, another regular event.
In 1963 Colin left Perth and headed for Britain. There he became involved with the start of the world famous radio "pirate" broadcasters. He spent over two years with Radio Caroline and other ship-based radio stations as an original radio pirate and also becoming program manager. These stations revolutionised the world music industry and Britain's broadcasting.
Colin’s distinguished career continued. He produced a number one record for the German market and promoted and managed artists in London. This was followed by two years with Radio Luxembourg in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which included holding the post of Deputy Head of the English Service. Colin was then with the BBC for over four years as an announcer on both national and World Service networks and announcer, producer, editor for BBC Radio London. Colin then spent five years with the British Forces Broadcasting Service as producer, announcer, instructor and program director in both Malta and Gibraltar.
Colin returned to Perth and spent two years with Radio 6K. He was also involved with Community Television and was the first elected Chair of CTV Channel 31. Most recently Colin has had involvement with community Radio 6NR. In 1985 and again in 1989 Colin made radio and television appearances in Adelaide in connection with his interesting and distinguished career. He has been guest lecturer to the graduating Media History class at Edith Cowan University, WA and he is included in the in the Oral History Department of Battye Library WA and National Library, Canberra.
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