I woke up one morning in April 1985 and there was a hole in the air.
I went to the kitchen and switched on the light, the kettle and the radio. The first two worked fine, but the wrong voice came out of the radio. The voice belonged to Rod McNeil, and in a grave tone it announced that Peter Evans had had a heart attack and wouldn’t be on air that day, or the next day, or the next week; but it was hoped he would make a speedy recovery and be back at the 3LO microphone in due course. Evans never returned. He died three months later. He left a gap in Melbourne radio that would never be filled.
Peter Evans was one very few radio announcers who never spoke to his audience. Instead, he talked to himself, or to Rosemary, his producer. You felt like you were in the studio with them. Evans always spoke to Rosemary slightly off mike, so you got a picture of the studio in your mind; and his mumbling soliloquy style suited your early morning fragility. He was grumpy and cheerful at the same time, if that is possible, and his manner was far more personal, not to mention easier to listen to, than any off-the-shelf power-laughing FM announcer's verbal acrobatics, over-inflections, lame jokes and smut. And while FM stations were troweling the airwaves with Wham, Phil Collins and Hall & Oates (hell, they probably still are), Evans kept on playing songs like That Lucky Old Sun by Peter Dawson, Australia's greatest bass-baritone. Perhaps greatest singer period. Evans made reading the paper, eating toast and drinking tea a pleasant, civilised experience. The FM lot were and are about as aurally pleasant as fingernails on a blackboard.
This month marks twenty-five years of no Evans at breakfast. I can still hear his voice, grumbling about joggers almost knocking him over as they ran through the City Square; or announcing the temperature in Paraburdoo, lampooning the oddness of the name. A bit rich for a Welshman.