The Central Coast’s SEA FM Hot 30 Countdown

In September 1996 the owners of 101.3 Coast Rock FM decided to bite the bullet, and change the name of the radio station.

We were told that the two reasons for the name change were because consultants believed the word ‘rock’ limited the appeal of the station and the new owners wanted to mirror the name of another radio station they had in their network — SEA FM.

At the time of the name change, I was working with Leigh Towler and Mike Duncan on the SEA FM breakfast show. Leigh Towler would later go on to work at Adelaide radio station SA FM, and by 2006 she was known as Ajay Rochester — the host of Australia’s version of the Biggest Loser.

Soon afterwards, I was appointed to host what ended up becoming the final live and local night radio show on that Central Coast radio station. The night show on SEA FM was a hit music format and could be heard on 101.3FM between 6pm &10pm weeknights. Initially, our most direct competition at night was the show hosted by Graham Mack on 2GO FM 108 — then after he departed in 1997, we were up against big-time Sydney celebrity Rachael Oakes-Ash.

Brenden Wood at SEA FM in Gosford. 30th December 1997.

This night show was my second time hosting that slot on the radio station — I anchored the Coast Rock FM Top 30 Countdown in 1993 and 1994 — I replaced Mike Goldman in February 1993.

Once the new show began to roll out on SEA FM at night, I had the approval of the program director Don Dawkins to invite ‘interns’ into the Henry Parry Drive studio each night.

Over the course of the next 18 months I was able to give opportunities to about half a dozen people who would eventually leave and achieve their own success in the radio industry.

Who were the people who interned on the SEA FM night show?

One of the first interns on the SEA FM Hot 30 Countdown was an old school buddy of mine Mark Darin who would visit the studio a few nights each week and put to air several ‘characters’ — His voices included the voice of a brash kid named ‘Little Scotty’ and a religious leader who went by the name ‘Reverend J Tonkiss.’ Both of these characters had great fun with the callers who were simply phoning to request a song or win a prize.

‘Interning’ for SEA FM in the promotional vehicle each night were a bunch of people with excellent attitudes: Tim Lynn — Known as ‘Invisible Tim’, Justin Coulson, Rebecca The Bikini Girl, Joel ‘Big Bird’ Gosper, ‘Dangerous’ Dave Kirwan and ‘Stuntman Dan’ whose real name was Dan Cassin.

Brenden Wood, Mark Darin, Rebecca and Tim Lynn. 1997.

Helping us behind the scenes were Monique Carceller on the phones and Robbie Wood in the SEA FM production studio.

And we can’t forget, Johnny On The Spot — he was a regular character who would appear on air infrequently to say three words, ‘Yes Mr Wood’ — the person who supplied us with that voice was a friend of mine, Graeme Crouch.

CDs were used to play most of the music on the show. A computer housed the play-out system for our blocks of advertisements. There were some reel-to-reel machines in the studio — but these were purely kept in the studio as a back-up in case the recording tool in the computer failed us.

Rebecca, Mark Darin, Robbie Wood, Brenden Wood, Joel Gosper, Monique Carceller and Dan Cassin. Terrigal. December 2000.

In February 1998, SEA FM / 2GO General Manager Graham Smith decided to save costs by axing the two local night shows on the Central Coast. The SEA FM Hot 30 Countdown was last heard on the Central Coast on Friday 13th February 1998 — A networked night show hosted by Craig ‘Big Kahuna’ Collet was then piped into the Central Coast from the Gold Coast.

SEA FM Interns — Where Are They Now?

Mark Darin left SEA FM and worked at Eagle FM in Goulburn. Later he was heard doing shifts at Triple M in Sydney. And for more than a decade has been hosting the number one breakfast radio show on the Sunshine Coast with Caroline Hutchinson — Mix 92.7.

Tim Lynn moved to ROX FM on New South Wales’ Mid North Coast. Ten years ago he was heard on 105.3 NEW FM. Nowadays he can be heard anchoring talk back shifts on 2SM and their regional radio network.

Dan ‘DC’ Cassin is now the afternoon presenter for NOVA FM nationally. Prior to this gig he was working for Austereo in various capital cities including Sydney where he was heard on 2DAY FM.

Joel Gosper became a radio announcer in regional Australia. He was once the General Manager of 2NM and Power FM in Muswellbrook. He worked for a short period with the Commonwealth Bank. Now, Joel is the General Manager of the Grant Broadcasters in Wollongong ie 96.5 WAVE FM.

‘Rebecca The Bikini Girl’ retired herself and her uniform from the radio industry — she has not been heard of since.

Justin Coulson moved to a radio station in Mt Isa for a short period of time. He eventually climbed through the ranks at Austereo becoming the morning announcer and music director at Newcastle’s NX FM, and then the morning announcer at B105 in Brisbane. Justin is now an international speaker who is seen regularly on TV shows in Australia discussing child psychology issues.

Monique Carceller went on to be a model, TV extra, voice over artist, a Sea Eagles cheergirl and a promotions/marketing manager at Sydney radio station Triple M. She is now retired raising two kids with her husband Andrew.

Robbie Wood moved to 2GN and Eagle FM in Goulburn where he was in charge of production and did some regular on air shifts. He later worked in the production departments driving the audio strategies for Brisbane’s B105, Sydney’s Triple M, Hot Tomato, 2DAY FM, Mix 106.5, Brisbane’s 973FM and 4KQ.

Robbie Wood and Mark Darin at Noosa— October 2017.

The last intern to join the SEA FM Hot 30 Countdown was Dave Kirwan. I spotted him while he was being shown around the radio station by a casual employee of 2GO, Chayne Cleary. Dave grew up in Terrigal. All the local girls loved him. He would go on to be a radio announcer at SNOW FM in Cooma, a TV presenter at NBC Weather and Nine’s Today Show. He was last seen on The Weather Channel in the US and heard doing daytime shifts at New York radio station 92.3 K-ROCK. Dave is now semi-retired, living in Orlando supplying voice over content for media outlets around the world.

What turned out to be a special moment for the SEA FM Hot 30 Countdown was when Tim Lynn attended INXS’s launch of their tenth album, Elegantly Wasted. In April 1997, Tim put INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence onto the phone to me for a one-on-one interview on SEA FM in Gosford. It would be my final interview with Michael Hutchence — he died seven months later.

Radio programmer Ryan Rathbone

About 15 years after leaving the radio station, I was working at Triple M in Sydney and stumbled upon an amazing piece of information that I wasn’t aware of. A colleague from ‘upstairs’ at Southern Cross Austereo, Ryan Rathbone, who at the time was working in the programming department for 2DAY FM told me that one night in 1997 he and a mate knocked on the door of SEA FM, and asked for a tour of the studio. Apparently I obliged. He later got a job in radio, and had a successful career in Australian and New Zealand radio.

The show’s last reunion was at Terrigal in December 2000. And, in a strange twist, Sydney pop band Sister2Sister walked past us as we took a photo! We grabbed one last group photo, and included the band — Christine and Sharon Muscat.

Rebecca, Dan Cassin, Robbie Wood, Joel Gosper, Christine Muscat, Mark Darin, Sharon Muscat, Monique Carceller & Brenden Wood — Terrigal — December 2000.

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