Graham Kennedy began his career in radio, where he learnt the skills that made him a TV superstar.
In 1949, aged 15, Graham embarked on his radio career as a messenger boy for Radio Australia. In 1951 he got his big break becoming the turntable operator for 3UZ’s star announcer Clifford Nicholls Whitta aka Nicky. They developed their successful on-air partnership over the next five years so that by 1956, 73% of morning radio listeners tuned in to the 'Nicky and Graham' show and the Argus newspaper ran a comic strip based on their personas.
Graham took many aspects of the craft he learnt working with his mentor Nicky across his career in radio and television: the careful preparation of his program, the irreverent take on delivering commercials and the intimate relationship he created with his audience.
During his highly successful television career Kennedy continued to be involved in radio not only as a presenter for stations including 3UZ, 3AK, 3XY, 3DB and 3LO, but also recording commercials, acting in the Graham Kennedy’s RS Playhouse comedy series for the ABC and as a co-owner briefly of 2DAY FM.
Graham Kennedy highlights from the NFSA’s radio collection include examples of his partnership with Nicky and broadcasting from his home studio at Frankston with Bert Newton.
Mike Walsh interviews Graham Kennedy about working in radio in the 1950s.
They discuss changes in studio technology over the last 30 years and Graham tells an anecdote about the behaviour of some of the more colourful announcers of the time.
Graham also refers to having recently become a part owner of the new Sydney commercial radio station, 2Day FM.
During his morning program on Melbourne radio station 3UZ, Bert Newton talks with Graham Kennedy about his late mentor, the popular radio announcer Nicky (Clifford Nicholls Whitta), who died in 1956.
Graham talks about his first memory of hearing Nicky, starting his own radio career in the 1950s and Nicky's 'soft, close microphone technique' that created an intimacy with his audience.
An extract of the morning program Nicky and Graham starring Nicky (Clifford Nicholls Whitta) and Graham Kennedy on Melbourne radio station 3UZ in June 1955.
An extract from 3AK's morning radio program Graham’s Hideout from November 1961.
It’s the day after the 1961 Melbourne Cup and co-presenters Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton compare notes on their winnings.
They bicker in a good-natured fashion and Graham speaks intimately to the listening audience while Bert pops off to the kitchen to make tea.
Graham explains there are no on-air commercials this morning because they forgot to bring them!
A cinema advertisement for Sennitt’s Ice Cream with the popular Melbourne radio announcers Nicky (Clifford Nicholls Whitta) and Graham (Kennedy).
In this 1962 recording, Graham and Bert perform a classic radio stunt during the 3AK morning radio program Graham's Hideout.
They tune into rival Melbourne station 3UZ and talk to disc jockey Don Lunn as if he can hear them. They call out ‘Ooh Poo Pah Doo’, the title of a popular song at the time, to attract his attention.
When Don is made aware they've been talking to him on air, he has a short conversation with Bert and Graham across the airwaves, station to station.
Mike Walsh interviews Graham Kennedy about his involvement with new radio station 2Day FM in Sydney.
He also looks back at the start of his radio career in the 1950s, noting the significance of his big break in working with the popular announcer Nicky.
Graham presents 'stereo jokes' with 'the best straight man in the business', Bert Newton.
Friends for 25 years by this point, Graham and Bert tell jokes with one voice coming out of each speaker.
Graham Kennedy and Timothy Lynch broadcast from Frankston, an outer suburb of Melbourne, for radio station 3XY.
A longer extract of the program Nicky and Graham starring Nicky (Clifford Nicholls Whitta) and Graham Kennedy on Melbourne radio station 3UZ in June 1955.