CASSOWARY COAST airwaves will never be the same with radio personality Gary ‘Gazza’ McIlroy about to sign-off for the last time.
The ‘King of the Gazza-wary’ Coast, known for his wacky outfits and crazy challenges, will be hanging up his headphones soon to chase new adventures somewhere in the Far North.
“I’m leaving to pursue an opportunity to expand my on-air time,” he said.
“At this stage, I’m looking at a couple of options but I’m definitely staying in radio.
“ I’ll be keeping the Gazza Challenge going, which has now been in Mt Isa, Cloncurry, Ingham, the Cassowary Coast and now will move to another part of North Queensland.”
He said his journey from a teenager with an interest in building transmitters to a seasoned radio jock had been interesting.
He started his career in hospital radio in England, before moving to a community radio station.
In the 80s, he did work for some of the new FM stations, which were transforming UK radio, before heading to New Zealand where he worked in breakfast radio.
He eventually moved to Queensland after landing a job in Mt Isa.
“I was actually going to work in the mines and did some training courses,” he said.
“But while I was there, I learnt about a job for Southern Cross Austereo.
Mr McIlroy, 51, said he had many ups and downs since moving to the Cassowary Coast.
“I’ve been here four years now and it’s been an interesting journey in that time, radio wise and also with the Gazza Challenge,” he said.
“There has been certain criticisms about my show, but everyone from the general public has been fantastic.
“I’ve heard from several sources that when people first heard me, they thought someone better put this guy out of his misery but now they seem to quite like me.
“It took a month or so for people to get used to this Pom, but their response has amazed me in all sorts of ways and in all the things I’ve done out and about.
Since his arrival, he has done hundreds of challenges, although he says some have stood out more than others.
“Funnily enough, of all the challenges I’ve done all over the area including some cracking ones in Cardwell, Ingham, Mission Beach and Innisfail, the most amazing one was at Murray Upper, which just had a single store at the time,” he said.
“It was about three years ago and I went out there in among all sorts of floods and things, and I was just amazed at the people who turned out from that community – there were probably 25 people.
“I like connecting with a whole range of people and that day they were all there, I was amazed.”
“I was selling ads, but there was no interaction on the radio so I asked if I could do the Gazza Challenge, so I was doing that every morning.
“Eventually, I met with Al Kirton and then I came to Innisfail and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Story courtesy of Elisabeth Champion, The Cairns Post