Tony Martin's treasures

join the national collection
 Chris Arneil

While visiting the NFSA’s Melbourne office last week to record an interview with film critic and radio host Paul Harris for the NFSA’s Oral History Program, comedian and writer Tony Martin brought with him boxes of over 820 hours’ worth of significant and influential radio material from his personal collection to donate to the archive.

The boxes contained highlights of his radio program Martin/Molloy, hosted from 1995 to 1998 with former D-Generation and The Late Show co-star Mick Molloy, as well as the entirety of the Triple M program Get This, which he hosted from 2006 to 2007 with Ed Kavalee and Richard Marsland. Martin/Molloy and Get This were both top-rated nationally-networked radio programs, both influential and unique in their seamless blend of carefully crafted sketches, satire and freeform banter.

Tony Martin’s Martin/Molloy recordings were fastidiously compiled by Tony himself onto 185 × 90-minute compact cassettes. Tony listened back to episodes after they were recorded each night, selecting highlights to include on the tapes while meticulously documenting each segment. The tapes were compiled back in the mid-‘90s when most commercial radio shows weren’t kept after being recorded, but due to the enormous amount of work put into the production of the show (which included elaborate live and pre-recorded sketches) efforts were made to preserve the episodes.
These cassettes and CDs contain more than 820 hours’ worth of radio material.

The idea of saving recordings of one’s own content was mocked around the radio station for being vain until preservation techniques paid off. When the hosts went on holiday for a week, the radio station could play comprehensive ‘best-of’ Martin/Molloy shows using the tapes in their absence.

The Martin/Molloy compilation albums The Brown Album (1995), Poop Chute (1996) and Eat Your Peas (1998) all went on to win ARIA Awards, although Tony insists that the true best bits can be found on the 185 cassettes and not the published albums due to copyright limitations. The NFSA also acquired the entirety of Tony’s radio program Get This (on 545 audio CDs) as well as complete episode summaries and documentation.

The NFSA will preserve both physical and digital copies of the Martin/Molloy and Get This programs, but as these are large collections, they will take time to catalogue and digitise. Speaking to 'Radio Today' about the donation, Tony commented, ‘I feel for the person who will have to transfer them all, they’ll probably be mystified by endless references to people like Mal Colston, Roy Hampson, and Wa Wa Nee’.