GALE FORCE

HOW A BLOW-IN FROM MELBOURNE BE­CAME THE VOICE OF THE GOLD COAST

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - FRONT PAGE - WORDS: EMILY MAC­DON­ALD PHOTO: GLENN HAMP­SON

Paul Gale was never meant to stay on the Gold Coast and so, af­ter 10 months of sand and salt­wa­ter, he du­ti­fully de­parted on the next tide, bound for South Aus­tralia.

Ga­ley had im­pressed au­di­ences af­ter be­ing paired with lo­cal ra­dio queen Suki Mead as the 1997 SeaFM break­fast team. The Melbourne born an­nouncer had al­ready com­pleted stints at Kal­go­or­lie’s 6KG, Al­bury’s 2AY, Perth’s Triple M and Ho­bart’s Triple T, with cur­rent GoldFM pro­gram di­rec­tor Adrian “AJ” John­ston giv­ing him his start in the lu­cra­tive break­fast slot dur­ing his ten­ure on the ap­ple isle.

The Gold Coast was just another step­ping stone on his jour­ney for supremacy of the airwaves.

But af­ter two and a half years at Ade­laide’s SAFM and on the cusp of mov­ing to the big smoke, Ga­ley sud­denly had sec­ond thoughts.

“The next log­i­cal step would have been Syd­ney or Melbourne but I felt torn,” Ga­ley says.

“I felt like I spent more time think­ing about go­ing back than I did mov­ing for­ward. “I had some un­fin­ished busi­ness on the Gold Coast.” Not only was one of the Coast’s long­est-serv­ing an­nounc­ers not meant to stay, his was a face not orig­i­nally des­tined for ra­dio.

In 1988 the as­pir­ing thes­pian left be­hind ev­ery­one he knew in Vic­to­ria in the hope a late-night slot on the Kal­go­or­lie wire­less would be his key to crack­ing into act­ing.

“It was a long trip across the Nul­la­bor on the bus and when I got there I had no idea what I was do­ing. Some would say I still don’t,” Ga­ley says. “In those days we were still load­ing the vinyls on. “In a min­ing town there’s al­ways a sense of ad­ven­ture. Peo­ple run­ning away from some­thing. Work­ing hard and play­ing hard.”

He threw him­self into his gig on air, but young Ga­ley never quite gave up his dream of be­com­ing an ac­tor.

While work­ing at Al­bury he met ac­tor Belinda Gi­b­lin, best known for her role on Sons and Daugh­ters as the post plas­tic surgery Pat the Rat, who was orig­i­nally played by Rowena Wal­lace.

The en­ter­pris­ing Ga­ley asked for her con­tact de­tails and got in touch when he fi­nally scored an au­di­tion at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Arts.

“I had to rein­tro­duce my­self to her and then I asked her if she would help me pre­pare for my au­di­tion,” Ga­ley says.

“She said yes and spent the en­tire day help­ing me pre­pare.”

Ga­ley was among 150 au­di­tion­ing for a coveted spot at the act­ing school. He made it to the top five but ul­ti­mately missed out.

“Some­one came along and told us all to warm up. Ev­ery­one else was do­ing voice ex­er­cises, but all I knew how to do was footy stretches so I was stand­ing there do­ing my ham­strings,” Ga­ley says. “I ended up just go­ing to hide in the toi­let for a bit. “I was dis­ap­pointed to have missed out, but I also had a big sense of achieve­ment for mak­ing it so far.”

Re­sum­ing his role at SeaFM in 2000, Ga­ley spent the next 16 years be­ing paired with a string of mem­o­rable per­son­al­i­ties. Among them were Sally Rope, Si­mon Baggs, Matt Ac­ton, Ross Wall­man, Digby Gillings and for­mer Hi 5 star Charli Robin­son.

Among the pro­ces­sion of voices to min­gle with his own, none re­sounded as loudly, or in­deed laughed as heartily, as Moyra McGre­gor.

Now known by her mar­ried moniker of Moyra Ma­jor, the duo spent a decade on air to­gether af­ter a for­tu­itous meet­ing at a stand-up com­edy night.

Moyra parted ways with SeaFM in 2011 af­ter the sta­tion con­tro­ver­sially punted her when she was due to re­turn to work af­ter tak­ing six weeks’ ma­ter­nity leave.

Ga­ley fol­lowed her to Hot Tomato where she’d picked up a gig read­ing the news. Since the start of this year, to­gether with Mal­colm Lees, the trio of Ga­ley, Mal and Moyra have been blitz­ing the drive slot.

The 102.9FM team had a con­vinc­ing win over their ri­vals at 17.6 per cent in the lat­est GFK Gold and Tweed Coast Ra­dio Rat­ings.

It’s bound to be a re­lief for Ga­ley, who has whole­heart­edly em­braced his new sta­tion, although the dif­fer­ent times­lot is still tak­ing some get­ting used to for the break­fast stal­wart.

“I’m pretty much awake at 4.45am every morn­ing, but I’m try­ing to coach my­self to sleep longer,” Ga­ley says.

“But them my brain starts telling me, ‘You’re awake you might as well ex­er­cise’, so I’m pretty much at war with my­self.”

The 50-year-old Car­rara dad to Mag­gie, 22, Ben­nett, 20, Rosie, 18, and Wil­low, 16, is par­tial to a trot up Burleigh Hill and an F45 Team Train­ing class.

His part­ner of two years, Ange Pease, also has two chil­dren of her own, Ajay, 13, and Mad­die, 11, so there’s no slow­ing down on week­ends.

Many peo­ple know Ga­ley for his in­fa­mous crazy calls, which caused lis­ten­ers to al­ter­na­tively cringe and erupt in hys­ter­ics when the un­for­tu­nate per­son on the other end re­alised they had been pranked.

De­spite his AFL roots, Ga­ley was among those lob­by­ing to get the Gold Coast Ti­tans off the ground prior to their NRL de­but in 2007.

He also co-hosted Chan­nel Nine travel seg­ment Gold Coast Week­end with Melissa Downes and has long been a reg­u­lar on the em­cee cir­cuit.

But for all the full-vol­ume fun, it was the time when Ga­ley’s voice went quiet that makes him get a lump in his throat. While some an­nounc­ers choose to bare their souls to their au­di­ences, Ga­ley has al­ways been pri­vate about fam­ily af­fairs, in­clud­ing his di­vorce from wife Bil­lie with whom he says he shares a fan­tas­tic and re­spect­ful co­par­ent­ing re­la­tion­ship.

It was only dur­ing the time when his mum passed away that au­di­ences got a dose of raw Ga­ley.

“Mum was still in Melbourne so I did a few shows from the stu­dio down there be­cause she was al­ways so proud and I don’t think she would have wanted me to miss them,” Ga­ley says. “I did take the last cou­ple of days off to say good­bye. “Mum al­ways en­joyed what I did, so it split my emo­tions a bit.

“When you’re say­ing some­thing pub­licly you’re al­ways so vul­ner­a­ble with show­ing emo­tion.”

The day of the Gold Coast Eye pho­to­shoot rolls around and Ga­ley has a con­fes­sion to make. We’d dis­cussed at length how to best rep­re­sent a voice that has soaked into the sand, echoed from the high-rises and bounced off the canals of the Gold Coast for the best part of two decades.

So of course we had to take him to the top of our city’s most iconic struc­ture Q1 to do the SkyPoint Climb.

“I’m just not that great with heights,” Ga­ley says min­utes be­fore mak­ing his lofty as­cent.

“But I’ve been up there be­fore and the view is great, so I guess I’ve got no ex­cuse. “I’ll just have to get up there quickly and get it done.” And so, even though his voice may have crept a few oc­taves higher, Ga­ley lived to blow the wind up his lis­ten­ers for another day.

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