Bob Rogers with Prime Minister Bob Hawke, 1984

Vale Bob Rogers

Vale Bob Rogers

 Crispian Winsor

NFSA Curator Crispian Winsor looks back at the career of one of Australian radio's finest broadcasters, Bob Rogers.


Head and shoulders publicity shot of broadcaster Bob Rogers.
Publicity shot of Bob Rogers, c1976. NFSA title 791543

Rogers and rock'n'roll radio

Bob Rogers, Australia’s longest serving radio announcer, passed away on 29 May 2024, aged 97. He worked as a radio announcer for 76 years from 1944 to 2020 – a remarkable achievement. 

Born in Donald, Victoria on 3 December 1926, he started his radio career as a record boy at Melbourne station 3XY in 1942. Following jobs in regional Victoria and NSW, along with Sydney and Hobart, Bob landed in Brisbane in 1950 where he stayed for seven years. 

During this time, the rock'n'roll phenomenon had begun and he was right at the forefront. Bob was the first DJ to play 'Rock Around The Clock' by Bill Haley & His Comets in Australia in 1955.

In 1958, Bob moved to 2UE in Sydney and was involved in the start of Top 40 radio in Australia. This move also began his long-running rivalry with fellow 2UE announcer, John Laws. 

In this excerpt from an oral history interview that he recorded with Debbie Kruger at the NFSA in 2011, Bob talks about his move to 2UE:

Bob Rogers interviewed by Debbie Kruger, 2011. Excerpt from oral history. NFSA title: 1051940

The Fifth Beatle

In 1962, Bob left 2UE when he was offered a TV tonight show on Channel 9 in Sydney, called The Bob Rogers Show. It only lasted 12 weeks but it provided this memorable clip in an advertisement for Hecla frying pans where everything went wrong:

Excerpt from television special Ten Years of Television, 1966, featuring a clip from The Bob Rogers Show. Courtesy: Nine Network. NFSA title: 1560151. 

He also made a move to rival Sydney radio station 2SM in 1962. And it was at 2SM where he had perhaps his greatest claim to fame. With 2SM having exclusive rights to the Beatles tour of Australia in 1964, they sent Bob to tour with the group. The tour was a huge cultural event and, with Bob being such a big part of it, he was often referred to as the Fifth Beatle! In the following clip, he talks to John Lennon and Paul McCartney about their time in Australia at that point:

Bob Rogers interviews The Beatles, 1964.

'Goodbye folks'

For the next decade of his radio career, Bob swapped between 2UE and 2SM. He also had a more successful stint on TV during this time, collecting two Logie awards for The Bob Rogers Show (1969–1973) on Channel Seven. 

However, radio was still his true calling. In this clip from his radio show on 2UE, circa 1976, Bob introduces the talkback topic of whether there should be a reduction in television stations from three to two. Although the number of commercial stations may have increased now, the topic of whether they are all viable is still relevant today:

Excerpt from The Bob Rogers Show, c1976. 

Following 2UE, Bob moved to 2GB where he was controversially sacked in 1977 due to his guest, advertising executive John Singleton, swearing live on air. In this clip, he explains the whole story on The Mike Walsh Show the day after it happened:

Bob Rogers in an interview from The Mike Walsh Show, ep. 7099, 1977. Courtesy: Hayden Productions. NFSA title: 1256548

In 1997, Bob arrived at the John Singleton-owned station 2CH where he stayed for the rest of his radio career. He eventually retired in 2020 at aged 93, an astonishing achievement. 

Bob Rogers made a significant contribution to Australian broadcasting over many decades and will be missed. 


Main image: Bob Rogers with Prime Minister Bob Hawke at the opening of the NFSA building in Acton, 1984. NFSA title: 791543