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Iconic Coodabeen Champions end weekly radio show after 43 years on airwaves

Australia’s longest-running weekly radio program is no more, with the Coodabeen Champions deciding this week to end a remarkable 43-season stretch. Beginning in the Fitzroy studios of community station 3RRR in 1981, the Coodabeens were snapped up by 3LO/ABC from 1988-92, before being lured to 3AW (1993-2002). They returned to 774 ABC (2003-21) and then ended with 3MP/ACE (2022-23). (Story courtesy of the Herald Sun)

The Coodabeens consisted at different times of Bill Baxter, Andy Bellairs, Greg Champion, Ian Cover, Tony Leonard, Jeff “Torch” McGee, Jeff Richardson and Simon Whelan. Ian Cover reflected on their journey.

Interview with Jon Anderson:
JA: How much were you paid to be both the 1987 and 1995 VFL/AFL grand final halftime entertainment, given Meatloaf received $600,000 for wailing like a sick cat in 2011?
IC: AFL boss Ross Oakley rang me a couple of weeks before the game saying: “Hey Cove, can you blokes sing at the GF … we haven’t got any money to pay you but it should be fun?” They sent a couple of limos to pick us up from 3RRR where we were calling the game off the television, and then transported us to the middle on hovercrafts where we went with “I’m DiPierdomenico”, “I’m a Receiver” and “Plugger Be Good”.
JA: Oakley rang you again in 1995?
IC: Yes, but he was far better organised given the call came three weeks before the game rather than two.
JA: What did he say?
IC: “Hey Cove, can you blokes sing at the GF? … we haven’t got any money to pay you but it should be fun?”

JA: I’m going to miss Digger, Wayne from Wantirna, Pearl from the Peninsula, Cliff from Clematis, Stan the Statistician, Peter from Peterborough, Timmy from Thomastown, Sam the Sub, Ivan from Ivanhoe, Massive Merv etc?
IC: You can still hear them as we are not completely retiring, and are still doing gigs such as the Brownlow night at the MCG. But the time was right as we all want to travel while we are still physically able.
JA: Didn’t one gentleman truly believe that Peter from Peterborough was an actual person?
IC: Yes, we were doing a gig at the Pincott Club, Geelong Grammar’s rowing arm, when a man wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches and mole skins exclaimed: “Young Cover, I live in Peterborough, where does this Peter chap have his property, Discipline Downs?” I explained you took the Warrnambool road and then turned left 4km out of town. He nodded before saying, “I thought as much, hmmmm”.
JA: I still laugh when thinking of Digger’s invention to ensure Collingwood won more grand finals.
IC: Yes, it involved Digger watching the 1975, 1977, 1996 and 1999 grand finals in black and white, so when North Melbourne won he could pretend they were actually Collingwood.
JA: Anything from Stan the Statistician in terms of show facts?
IC: Stan notes we went to air 1195 times where the average daily temperature was 19 degrees, “Champs” sang 4137 songs and “Richo” went with “Thanks Unc” 594 times as his opening.
JA: Thanks to all of you for bringing us continuous joy in a lighthearted fashion over five decades.
IC: Not bad from a humble 1981 start for a budding lawyer, teacher, sports journo, key grip for Crawfords, musician and purchasing officer for the public service and taxation officer.

Audio Highlights. courtesy of 3MP – Ace Radio Network


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