RADIO stars are something of a mystery aren’t they?
Those velvet voices, golden tonsils and rapier-like repartee conjure up all sorts of images of what your favourite hosts of the airwaves look like.
And what they are really like, are they as funny, as crazy or as carefree as they come across every day on the radio?
Take Edge FM’s Maria and Thomo (in real life Maria Foundas and Anthony Thompson).
First up you realise Thomo must not have been a star at school.
Especially in spelling.
Because everyone knows Thommo has two m’s, not one.
But once you get behind the microphone you discover Thomo’s carrying more than his fair share of the load, so the odd spelling mistake (even if it’s his own name) can be forgiven.
Because he is up and at it every day by 5am and as soon as he has finished his morning gig entertaining people from Deni in the north to Cobram-Barooga in the east, Wakool in the west and Echuca-Moama and surrounds in the south he’s got some serious stuff to get out of the way. As program manager. Which means, Thomo confessed, anything going wrong on air and/or online “it’s my fault”.
What a job description.
Probably explaining why the veteran of 19 years in radio – the past nine with ACE, which owns Edge FM – likes to rip loose in the morning before people start ripping into him for the rest of the day.
“I love working regional radio, I’m a country boy from The Rock (a little town southwest of Wagga in NSW very few have ever heard of) and our first move from there was to Broken Hill and that’s where I started in radio,” Thomo said.
“From there it was working my way through some of the smaller stations but I have always valued the country connection,” he said.
“Right now that means trying to keep up with Maria and her quick wit – and even quicker tongue – and I try to never miss the chance to highlight some of the sillier things included in that daily deluge of words.”
And then he instinctively ducked as Maria, resting on a benchtop near him, took a quick swing at the last place his head had been seen (probably a necessary life skill for a smart alec program manager).
The proverbial radio gypsy (for a long time complete with VW Kombi but adamant “I wash and shave”) Maria started out at Murray Bridge and has taken in places as diverse as Warrnambool, Hobart, Albury-Wodonga and now Deni and Echuca-Moama (where the Pastoral Times tracked down the duo) and her zany partnership with Thomo.
“I kind of always knew I needed to entertain – from being the class clown at school to being a professional clown on the radio,” Maria explained. “I guess I might be a bit scary at times, but few people get to see that (Thomo clearly gets it, he’s still lurking in the studio but out of range),” she said.
“I have known him (pointing her thumb as Thomo eased his way towards the door) since I joined ACE seven years ago and we have been friends but when we started our show in January we just clicked on air. We don’t get too bogged down in stuff like current affairs, except when we can have some fun with it – and with each other.”
“She gets away with murder,” Thomo chimed in from the passage, concerned he might be the next statistic.
Maria remained unmoved, knowing he would be back within reach the next morning. But they are also more alike than she cares to admit because although she came from Adelaide she has also become a dyed-in-the-wool country girl.
“I love country radio, I love the feedback we get, and getting around mixing with our listeners and the wider country communities.
“And I know one day the gypsy in me will take me home down country roads.”