Paul Covington had it all planned.
In 1985, he arrived in Grafton to work and establish the regional city as the starting point for his proposed travels across NSW.
Fast forward to 2020 and he is still here, still working and maybe, still thinking of travelling.
A much-loved member of the 2GF and Clarence Coast’s FM104.7 family, Mr Covington’s love for radio traces back to his childhood, when he had his own set up with tape recorders and record players at home.
At fifteen, he won a competition to host an hour-long music program at 7BU in Burnie, Tasmania.
Having grown up listening to a lot of Victorian radio, he relished the opportunity to enter the studio.
Describing his first radio gig as the thrill of a lifetime, Mr Covington has experienced many memorable moments since he first spoke into the microphone and he simply can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I’ve had a passion for radio from a very early age,” Mr Covington said.
“It was all I wanted to do.”
Originating from Railton, a small community in northern Tasmania, Mr Covington started his radio career with a traineeship at 7AD in Devonport where he worked part time as an announcer while completing his Year 12 studies.
After finishing his traineeship and graduating to full time work at the station, Mr Covington went to Launceston in 1984 where he continued working as a radio announcer and copywriter before leaving the island state and journeying north to the Clarence Valley.
“I started applying for jobs and I landed one in Grafton as the production manager for 2GF,” Mr Covington said.
“Initially I came here when I was 21 to spread my wings and get a taste of the mainland.
“That was more than thirty years ago, but I’m still here in Grafton.”
As he settled into Clarence Valley life and building a successful profile at 2GF, his natural talents on air soon made waves beyond the local broadcast region.
Ray “Rabbits” Warren, soon heard and offered Mr Covington a job as a sports coordinator on 2KY, and for the next two years of his radio career, Sydney became the next and last travel destination in NSW.
It was an incredible opportunity for “a boy from the bush.”
“He (Rabbits) was larger than life, a great mentor and he taught me wonderful things about entertainment in radio,” Mr Covington said.
“He told me to always be confident, accurate and tell it (news) like it is.”
“It was a wonderful experience to work alongside people in radio I had always admired growing up.”
When Mr Covington returned to Grafton in the early 1990’s, he relished the opportunity to become involved with what he describes as his favourite event of the year, the July Racing Carnival.
Although the current Covid-19 pandemic prevented Mr Covington and 2GF from hosting their annual live preview from the racetrack this year, the team are already looking forward to restarting the much-loved tradition in 2021.
“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t stick to tradition and broadcast trackside this year, but we’re always looking forward,” Mr Covington said.
“There’s always next year.”
And there is plenty of time between now and the 2021 July Racing Carnival for Mr Covington to add a few more memorable moments to his glittering career.
“One of my funniest moments working in radio happened on a very hot Sunday afternoon,” Mr Covington recalls.
“The studio was upstairs and a young lady who lived in a unit next door was sunbaking on her roof.
“I was having a great time playing music on the radio when suddenly a gust of wind came through the studio window and blew the record I was playing out the window, landing right next to her.
“I had to laugh my way through an apology for the abrupt ending to the song.”
Although the record he was playing at the time didn’t feature her music, Mr Covington has previously interviewed country music singer and songwriter Brooke McClymont of the well loved country music group, The McClymonts and also recalls a memorable interview with the then Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beasley when they sat down at Roches Family Hotel to “talk about anything but politics”.
If he wasn’t working in radio, Mr Covington said he would most likely have found himself working with computer programming or technical work.
However, his love of radio proved too strong.
“Every aspect of the media has it’s strengths, but radio is especially strong because it’s such an effective way of gauging with the audience,” he said.
“I love what I do and I’m still thankful to Ron Bell, a former 2GF broadcaster, who gave me the opportunity to further my career when I started here in 1985.
“I’m very proud of the 2GF network and the team we have here and we’re always encouraging people to get on board with local events and we will see what we can do to help promote them on air.
“It’s very important that we support our local community because we’re a part of it too.”