Radio industry icon Lee Simon, known as the Godfather of Rock and the man who brought football to FM radio, was tonight inducted into the Commercial Radio Hall of Fame at the 30thannual Australian Commercial Radio Awards in front of more than 1000 industry peers.
Simon, who recently announced his retirement from Triple M Melbourne after 47 years of service, was recognised for his outstanding lifetime achievement and contribution to the Australian radio industry.
Simon started his radio career at 3AW in 1971 before moving to 3XY and later was instrumental in launching Australia’s first commercial FM station, EON FM in 1980, as both an on-air presenter and program director. The station later became Triple M Melbourne. In the 70s and 80s, Simon hosted the ground-breaking adult TV rock program, Nightmoves. More recently he was presenter of Triple M’s Rock of Agesprogram. Throughout his career, he has interviewed countless musicians including Debbie Harry, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Led Zeppelin.
In 1997 he brought live football to FM radio, overseeing Triple M’s first AFL rights deal. He has been national executive producer of Triple M’s AFL coverage ever since until his final day on AFL Grand Final day this year.
“Lee Simon is considered radio royalty. We’re delighted to recognise the tremendous contribution he’s made to music and sports broadcasting in this country and his impact on the development of FM radio,” said Joan Warner, chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia.
As a program director, Simon has been instrumental in launching the careers of many radio and entertainment industry figures, including the D-Generation, Eddie McGuire, Jennifer Keyte, Richard Stubbs, Brigitte Duclos and Brian Taylor.
Jimmy Barnes paid tribute to Simon on his retirement, describing him as “one of those guys who could see the big picture, who knew what was great and what we should all be listening to”.
Southern Cross Austereo CEO, Grant Blackley said “Lee has enjoyed a magnificent radiocareer and those who have worked with him would know of his incredible passion for our business. Lee has led with big picture vision and entertained and mentored so many individuals throughout his career. The industry is indebted to Lee not only for what he has achieved but importantly the manner with which he has engaged with our stakeholders with absolute professionalism. Mate, congratulations on a stellar career and thank you for all you’ve done for our industry.”
Simon said: “It’s been a fabulous journey. I am truly fortunate and honoured to have been given the opportunity to work alongside radio’s greats and future greats and to play a role in an industry I still love as passionately as I did on day one, five decades ago.”
The Hall of Fame recipient is nominated by industry peers and selected by an executive level judging committee. Last year’s inductees were Amanda Keller (WS FM) and Ray Hadley (2GB). Previous inductees have included Nova Entertainment chief executive officer, Cathy O’Connor, Jeremy Cordeaux, Peter Harvie, Kevin Blyton, Graham Mott,Tony Pilkington, Derryn Hinch, Neil Mitchell, John Laws, Bob Rogers, Janet Cameron, Gary O’Callaghan, Paul Thompson, Bob Francis, Rod Muir and the late Frank Hyde.
The Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRAs) are organised by Commercial Radio Australia and cover all metropolitan, provincial and country commercial radio stations, with winners announced in 37 categories, across news, talkback, sport and music. Tonight’s gala event was hosted by Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen from The Chaser, with more than 1100 radio industry stars, personalities and media executives from around Australia in attendance.