Radio veteran's last shift ends on sweet note

Host bows out after 33 years at the mike

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012
john mcdowell
NICOLE GOURLEY
CHANGE OF SCENE: John ‘‘Boggy’’ McDowell on his last day at Classic Hits radio station yesterday.

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John "Boggy" McDowell said it was poignant his final shift at Classic Hits FM at 9am yesterday should finish with the first song he played for Southland listeners in 1979.

McDowell said that song - Let Your Love Flow by the Bellamy Brothers - also went out to his wife, Ann, who had put up with him getting up at 4.40am every work day for the last 33 years.

McDowell - who has left the station to have a more leisurely morning schedule at Coast Radio, starting January 7 - spent much of yesterday's AM shift taking calls from fans and former colleagues in London, Singapore, New York, Saudi Arabia, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

A memorable quip also came from Prime Minister John Key, who, in a recorded message, said that if he had 33 years in the same seat it would mean he'd still be prime minister in 2042.

"Wouldn't that be magical?" Key said.

Moments that stood out in McDowell's time at the station were largely positive, he said.

Radio was a powerful medium and was influential in fundraising for institutions such as Southland Hospital, he said.

One of the most difficult moments came early in his career, at the age of 23. He was in the middle of reporting on the Erebus disaster on November 28, 1979 - in which all 237 passengers and 20 crew were killed in a crash at Antarctica's Mt Erebus - when he realised two Southlanders had won tickets for that sightseeing flight through the radio station.

Much had changed in the decades of radio, he said. Computers had replaced record players and there were now 36 stations to compete with, instead of just one.

The beauty of having all those channels was that people had more choice, he said.

Doing commentary to music had been a dream job from a young age for McDowell.

During his career he has received a Queen's Service Medal and a Radio New Zealand Hall of Fame award, which was "a nice recognition". "I'm very lucky to have a job I enjoy doing."

gwyneth.hyndman@stl.co.nz

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