Perth’s radio industry is mourning the loss of a familiar voice and big personality, the former 6KY, 6IX, 6PR, 6PM and 92.9 announcer known as Jim Beam, who passed away, aged 69.
He worked at 5KA Adelaide during the late 1960s, using his real name Errol Battersby on air. He also worked under the name ‘Big Red’.
John Cranfield has kindly advised that on moving to Western Australia, Errol was heard broadcasting from 6PR, just prior to the Gentle on Your Mind Days in the early seventies. At one stage at 6PR he was known on air as Earl Baxter.
He was then heard working from the James Street studios of 6KY in Perth, before the station was taken over by STW Channel 9 in 1973, to then move to the new studios at Dianella, along side the television station.
Then around 1980, when Cherie Romaro brought the Easy Rolling format to 6IX, Errol moved up the hill to the TVW Channel 7 owned radio station, at the height of this formats popularity. This all changed in 1987 when 6IX was sold to the Austereo Radio Network and the station was branded on-air as The Eagle 1080 AM. When Austereo failed to obtain one of the AM-FM conversions on auction, it subsequently sold the station to regional operator Radio West who re-instated the original 6IX call-sign.
Meanwhile, by 31st December 1990, Errol was working at 6PM, which on that date was the first AM radio station in Perth to convert to the FM band. The new station was branded 6PMFM (call-sign 6PPM) on the frequency 92.9 MHz. Its now known as 92.9FM.
Since leaving commercial radio, Errol worked in marketing in Perth and also had a stint working for Perth’s aboriginal community station 6AR during the early 2000s.
Errol had been a resident of the Inglewood Hotel for 15 years, when he sadly passed away on 11th February 2013, with Inglewood resident and television veteran Michael Goodall alerting us to this sad fact.
A Wake was held at the hotel on Saturday 23rd February 2013.
Errol’s long-time friend, Gary Shannon, was first to reveal the news of Errol’s passing on his Facebook page, commenting;
“It is with great sadness I would like to let any body who knew him or any person who remembers Jim Beam. I first met Jim when I was 17, working at 6KY in James St. Jim was a larger than life character, a big man with a lot of red hair and a big personality.”
“Everybody loved Beamy, including me. it is with tears in my eyes I send this post and just wanted to say thanks to the ‘LARGE ORANGE CREATURE’ for sharing part of his journey with me and for his encouragement, advice and kindness towards me in the early days”.
“Heaven has a new hot booming voice.
“RIP Beamy, I’ll miss ya mate.”
Bob Stuart then commented,
“Nice epitaph, Gaz. I worked with Errol Battersby, who morphed into Jim Beam, at 3TR Sale, back in 1970. He was a good bloke and a ton of fun.”
Murray Dickson said,
“Big Man, big voice, big talent and a great mate. Knew him from our early days in Adelaide and then had the pleasure of working with him twice in Perth. Hadn’t seen him for a couple of years but managed to catch up with him at the Inglewood before I moved back to Thailand. Thanks for the great memories old mate, including the day I got Gene Pitney in to read the news during your show on 6KY. He’ll be sadly missed by all who knew him and that includes the crowd at the Inglewood. RIP Jim!”
Russell Goodrick said,
“The 70’s , Rock , 6KY ….Grahame Cherry, Gary Roberts, Brian Lehman, Mark Condon and the ever large Jim Beam….Rock Steady my friend . You were one of the best .. will miss your omnipresence and smiling face at the Inglewood.”
Dennis Robinson said,
“This is very sad news for me. I worked with Jim as an announcer at 6PM and 92.9 in the 80’s and he was a lot of fun to work with. A real funny man. Thanks for letting us know Gary. It was great working with you too.”
Jenny Seaton said,
“We are sadly losing our mates. Big man Big voice Big heart and Big Talent. Big loss…..Jenny Seaton”
Steve Gobby said,
“Good friend, I still talk about the memories of Saturdays with the Highnooners at the Tuart Hill Tavern and trips to Subi on Grand Finals in the 70’s. Play some records in Heaven. See ya later.”
Steve Hart provided the following anecdote, Circa 1986 -
“I had just met with a ‘PD’ at the ‘FM’ station in Perth. Full of vigour and more enthusiasm than I was talented, that PD “wished they could hire me” but alas, there wasn’t a position available. At that same meeting, I was advised that 6IX would love to see me! And that I should make my way over to the ‘TV’ and ‘Radio’ station and ask for Jim Beam, which is exactly what I did.
“I should mention, that this was at a time when I had not even been employed in the industry prior, and I presumed that I could walk into any station and just ask for a job, and – wait for it – actually get it.
“After hearing my story, and ‘politely’ listening to my air check, Jim Beam, diplomatically, advised me of the game that was afoot and going on at my expense. It was Jim Beam who told me that an up-and-comer would need to cut his teeth in the country. And that the only position available at the time was mornings, and that he doubted that I was up for the task, chuckling all the while.
“It was soon after this, that I managed to talk with Gary Shannon, who helped me out with a new and improved air check, and also provided some wise words before I set off for a far distant town to commence my career. Do you recall Shannon?
“Thank you fellas. And thanks to the PD who set me off on that wild goose chase. While you did get a laugh out of my expense, I also met with the people that followed, which allowed me to get wise with the industry antics, and its protocol..
Radio station 6IX also sent their condolences;
“Deepest sympathy to his family. Always remembered The Staff and Management, 6IX.”
Comments reproduced were posted by friends and colleagues in the West Australian and on various blogs commemorating Errol’s contributions to the industry. Wish also to thank Michael Goodall and Bob Finkle for their help making this known.