Community mourns loss of airwaves king

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Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
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Lyle Harris behind the mic at a reunion in December 2017 with veteran broadcasters George Manning, Ron Hayward, Vic McCabe, John Cartwright, John Harvey and Warren Kalajzich at the old 6GE studios.
Camera IconLyle Harris behind the mic at a reunion in December 2017 with veteran broadcasters George Manning, Ron Hayward, Vic McCabe, John Cartwright, John Harvey and Warren Kalajzich at the old 6GE studios. Credit: Supplied

Warren Kalajzich knew his former radio workmates would approve of his actions and words when he placed a death notice in The West Australian last week.

“We mourn the loss of Lyle, the radio doyen of 6GE Geraldton. He gave many young men and women a career opportunity in the world of radio and TV,” Mr Kalajzich said.

Lyle Harris did just that.

The undisputed king of the Geraldton airwaves, Mr Harris died on Christmas Eve at St John of God Hospital Geraldton. He was 87.

Mr Harris, a City of Geraldton councillor and mayor from 1977 to 1982, was diagnosed with cancer last year and went into palliative care shortly before his death.

Jim Fitzmaurice, who went on to have an outstanding national career as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, was one of many radio personalities trained by Mr Harris.

“Lyle gave many young trainee radio announcers a start at 6GE,” Mr Kalajzich said.

“They included Jim (Fitzmaurice), Geoff and Peter Newman, George Manning, Ian Haselby, Alan Pearsall, Barry Urquhart and Tony Barlow.”

However, Mr Harris was an outstanding broadcaster in his own right, calling many major events — headed by the visit of the Queen when she opened the Geraldton Civic Centre on March 24, 1963.

And then there was the early days of the Great Northern Football League. “Lyle was instrumental in having local football games broadcast on 6GE — and he and Jim called the first season on the back of a truck owned by Phil Cooper,” Mr Kalajzich recalled.

Mr Cooper succeeded Mr Harris as mayor of the city.

Mr Kalajzich said Mr Harris ran the radio station “as a tight ship”.

“All the announcers were under scrutiny to ensure professional standards were attained and maintained,” Mr Kalajzich added.

“But he gave us confidence and training to take the next step in our lives.

“He is remembered with affection by his past apprentices who are spread all around Australia.”

Mr Harris is survived by a daughter, Susan.

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