Remembering Bob Rogers: Radio industry celebrates life and times of the radio legend

Bob Rogers

“A national radio treasure… they don’t make ‘em like that any more.”

After more than 78 years behind the microphone, the legendary Bob Rogers passed away yesterday at his Sydney home aged 97. He retired from the 2CH airwaves just three and a half years ago.

After 23 years spent presenting mornings on 2CH, a health scare saw Bob hand his microphone over to Tim Webster in 2018, but he continued his successful Saturday night show Reminiscing. When he retired in 2020, it marked his 25th year at Classic Hits 2CH.

Bob’s retirement coincided with the change of ownership at the station as Sports Entertainment Network took over 2CH. The music station moved to DAB+ later in October 2020. The old 2CH AM frequency became SEN 1170 Sydney in mid-October. Two years later, SEN closed 2CH.

Bob Rogers tributes

2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham paid tribute to Rogers at the start of his show today and played highlights from Rogers’ career across the morning. The clips included Rogers talking about his decision to pose nude for Cleo magazine in his 50s.

Radio executive Cherie Romaro said: “Bob was unique! He was one of the best. I was privileged to be his manager and learned first-hand why he was so successful. I had never known anyone who prepared the way he did. Heading into the studio with arms full of paper research. He will always be fondly remembered as one of the very best. A national radio treasure.”

2CH colleague Trevor Sinclair: “Today we said goodbye to my friend, radio legend Bob Rogers. The man who told me in 1976, ‘just get out there on radio and remember who you are and be yourself’. He died at home with his wife, Jerry, and his precious daughters there. He was 97. His show business career spanned 80 years.

“Bob started in radio at Melbourne’s 3XY when he was 15. He was still doing his show with us on Sydney’s 2CH in his nineties.”

Music historian and author Glenn A Baker: “The death of Bob Rogers at 97, like the recent passing of Graham Webb, closes a door on radio history. Everything we hear on radio these days owes a debt to them.

“Bob was so very helpful to me when I was writing my Beatles Down Under book and was there on the Sheraton balcony, with his daughter Sheridan, when I was engaged in its promotion.

“He was noted for introducing Top 40 radio programming to Australia in 1958, on 2UE. Before his retirement in October 2020, Rogers presented the six-hour Saturday evening Reminiscing program on Sydney radio station 2CH. He had previously presented The Bob Rogers Show on weekday mornings.
His company was always uplifting and his tales always riotous.”

Former 3XY host Derryn Hinch: “Today, I said goodbye to my dear friend, my ‘brother’, radio legend Bob Rogers. He died at home with his wife, Jerry, and his precious daughters there. He was 97.

“His show business career spanned nearly 80 years. Bob started in radio at Melbourne’s 3XY when he was 15. He was still doing a radio program on Sydney’s 2CH in his nineties.

“The words legend and icon are thrown around too easily these days but Bob Rogers was both. As a kid I used to listen to him on my crystal set from across the ditch in New Zealand.

“One of his career highlights was in the 1960s when he accompanied The Beatles on their trip to Australia. He was called ‘the fifth Beatle’. Bob was a champion tennis player at White City, was one of the first male nude models for Cleo magazine and was an ace poker player.

“I shall be honoured to deliver his eulogy in Sydney next week. Vale, my brother.”

Bob Rogers and Derryn Hinch

2GB colleague Ben Fordham (from The Daily Telegraph): “Bob was one of the nicest characters you’re ever likely to meet. Everyone loved having him around the building and he just loved being on the radio.

“He was such a humble gentleman and you had to remind yourself this is the same bloke who toured with the Beatles and once posed nude in a magazine.”

2GB colleague Ray Hadley, who visited Rogers two weeks ago (from The Daily Telegraph): “When you use the word legend in radio, it’s often overused but we are talking about one of the legendary most famous broadcasters in this nation’s history,” Hadley said on 2GB on Wednesday night. “I can thoroughly say having known him quite well for the last 35 years, you wouldn’t meet a better bloke. Absolutely gentlemanly, a fantastic man and he’s sadly gone.”

Broadcaster Ian Maurice: “Australian radio legend Bob Rogers has died at the ripe old age of 97. His illustrious career saw him still broadcasting into his nineties. I admired him enormously. He and John Laws were my radio heroes.”

Broadcaster Mike Carlton: “’Hidey hodey everybody…’ Icon indeed. I grew up listening to ‘Robert B on 2UE,’ was thrilled to shake his hand when I was a teenager. A lovely man, too. He was one of the radio greats and they don’t make ‘em like that any more.”

Life and times of Bob Rogers

Bob Rogers began his career in 1942 in Melbourne at 3XY as a panel operator, moving to Mildura with his first job as an announcer. He then went to Hobart, and learnt how to be a disc jockey. After smuggling in a record from the USA: Vaughn Monroe’Ghost Riders in the Sky and playing it, he got a huge audience reaction and Bob quickly learnt if he could play hit music, he could get more listeners and be different from everyone. Thus, the beginning of the ‘Radio DJ’.

He then went to Brisbane’s 4BH and in 1957 he was the first person to discover Slim Dusty and play Pub with No Beer.

Between 1958 and 1962, Rogers presented Australia’s first Top 40 show on 2UE, and was Australia’s top radio DJ for the next eight years. What no one remembers is John Laws was his news reader on 2UE.

It was there that Rogers and Laws began a feud that lasted until 2019, with both only recently burying the hatchet.

In 1962, Bob joined Sydney’s 2SM and his show was an instant success, shooting straight to number 1. Because of his success, Bob was chosen to cover The Beatles on their tour across Europe, Asia, and Australia. This is when he was officially named as the Fifth Beatle.

In 1976, Bob wrote Rock and Roll Australia, the birth of the Australian rock industry.

Bob Rogers in his home office

In 1995, Rogers accepted an offer from station owner John Singleton to join 2CH and this is where he ended his 78-year career.

Bob said his goodbyes to his extensive and loyal audience on Reminiscing on Saturday 3 October 2020 from 6pm to 12 midnight. His final show was filled with tributes from celebrities, the music industry, fellow broadcasters, and his own Classic Hits 2CH team.

“I have absolutely loved my time in this industry – I have met so many wonderful people and built such a treasured connection with my listeners and team, but at my age (93 years) I feel it’s the perfect time to say goodbye and hand over the microphone to my fellow presenters,” Bob said.

“I wish to thank my devoted and brilliant producer Gary King, my general manager Cherie Romaro and my fellow presenters, Tim WebsterChris Kearns, and Trevor Sinclair. I will miss radio, my listeners and my work friends, but it is time.”

Romaro with Bob Rogers. The radio great gave up his weekday show in 2018 and then retired from radio in 2020

2CH’s Cherie Romaro paid tribute to Bob at the time of his retirement: “I have worked with Bob for a relatively short time, but I quickly learnt there was no other radio presenter like Bob Rogers his preparation and devotion to his listeners is second to none. Bob will leave a lasting legacy, not only at Classic Hits 2CH but the entire Australian broadcast industry.

“He is a legend in the truest sense of the word, and I was privileged to be able to witness him at work firsthand. He will always be remembered as one of the best at his craft. There will never be another Bob Rogers.”

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