Mildura Weekly : Friday November 14 2014 Vol 9 No 2
08 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2014 • From Page 1 After finishing secondary school, Max began doing weekend work at radio station 3SA at Balaclava, a ‘landline’ station broadcasting to a couple of city blocks, and operated by blind announcer Clarke Sinclair, who had a similar passion for radio. “I’d get in trouble for playing too much country music in my program selection,” Max recalled. “In those days country songs made the pop charts, just like jazz tracks and other genres of music.” Max’s next move was to Mildura - the city he would eventually call home, and where - over half a cen- tury - he has become an institution in broadcasting and print media. When Max started at 3MA, Roy Harwood was sales manager, and former technician Max Folie, a friend of radio station and news- paper owner CD Lanyon, was sta- tion manager. Max Folie is credited with helping to get 3MA going in the 1930s. It was during those early years that Max become associated with the Mildura Good Friday Hos- pital appeal, a cause he would sup- port for many decades. “Roy got me involved in the hos- pital appeal, and on one occasion I pushed the office girl in a pram all the way from Mildura to Wentworth to raise funds for the appeal,” he said. Max worked at 3MA for less than a year before becoming breakfast an- nouncer at Colac. “I started the morning with a country program called ‘Milking with Max’, Colac being a dairy area, and a farmer sent me a cow bell which I rang on the show,” Max said. Sunraysia residents will be able to hear first-hand on Sunday what a teenage Max Thorburn sounded like in those days when he plays snippets from his time at Colac. “Amazingly one of my ‘Milking with Max’ programs survived, and this Sunday on 1611AM Old Gold I’ll be playing part of that 1965 show,” Max said, adding that he still occasionally runs into people from the Western District who remember the show. During his time at Colac, Max boarded with fellow radio man Pe- ter Eustace, who had ambitions to become a race commentator and who went on to call races, trots and greyhounds, which he still does in Gippsland. It was Peter who took Max to his first race meeting, the Co- lac Cup. “Little did I know that 12 months later I would be calling a race meet- ing at Wentworth,” Max said. “Roy Harwood organised that because the local caller, John Groves, was a Victorian school teacher, and in those days Melbourne Cup Day wasn’t a holiday in Sunraysia.” Max’s time at Colac also intro- duced him to some now well-known names in radio, including Ian Major, who went to 3KZ in Melbourne, and Ian McRae, who worked at many sta- tions around the world, including one of the famous pirate radio sta- tions in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. Pirate radio stations were based on offshore ships to meet the grow- ing demand for music that wasn’t played by BBC radio. By broadcast- ing from international waters these stations were not deemed illegal, despite not holding a broadcasting licence. Ian spent time working for the first of these British pirate radio sta- tions, Radio Caroline, which broad- cast from a ship based off the Essex coast. Max then moved to Moree in New South Wales, an eye-opening experience for the young broad- caster. He had lost interest in Colac radio when it was sold to the ABS Network, and in Moree replaced Nick Erby, who went north to work on 4GR in Gympie. Max returned to Sunraysia later that year, and went back part-time with 3MA, opening up more oppor- tunities. He was asked to introduce a nightly sports show. Television had just arrived, and people were start- ing to tune out from night time ra- dio. TV was only on air for five hours from 5pm, but was making an im- pact. “I also got a fill-in job as booth announcer and local newsreader on Sunday nights on STV8, which was also controlled by the Elliot News- paper Group,” Max said. “When I was at 3MA it was the first time I’d bought some shares in a fam- ily name, and we kept them right through. We were the absolute last of the old shareholders, and got paid out the day the company shut down just a few years ago.” Within a few years of returning to 3MA, Max made the shift to the newspaper industry, although not entirely by choice. “In the early 1970s Roy Harwood decided to bring in a young sound, Mildura’s Max Thorburn is a survivor in a tough and competitive business, a ‘workaholic,’ and when it comes A real pro. There’s no frills with Max...what you see is what you get - but there’s a lot more to this enigmatic in particular...and still going strong...the Mildura Weekly’s BEN PISCIONERI Huge radio milestone for • Veteran broadcaster Max Thorburn gets some special albums ready for Sunday’s program, and INSET, with American independent artist Erin Hoye at the 2003 Mildura Country Music Festival. 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