REG GRUNDY TIMELINE (1923-1957)
Reg Grundy was born on 4 August 1923 in Sydney, NSW to Roy Grundy and Lillian Lees.
Reg served in the Australian Army during WWII from December 1941 until he was discharged in August 1946. During the latter half of his time in the Army, Reg was assigned to the District Finance Office at the Sydney Showground where one of his responsibilities was to read the official announcements – an experience which ignited his interest in a career in radio.
Early image of Reg Grundy circa 1941-1942.
Reg Grundy on the cover of ‘Sports Novels’.
Reg's first stint in radio was as the assistant to the Program Manager at regional NSW radio station 2GZ for their coverage of the 1947 Royal Easter Show.
His first ‘break’ came when he was given a chance to audition to cover sporting events at Sydney’s 2SM. Far from a sports fan, Reg chose to write an account of a fight he had seen with his Dad and learn it by heart for the audition, even buying a book called How to Box from a newsagent to help him come up with the right phrases.
His research paid off, and Reg’s first broadcast at 2SM was on 14 July 1947.
In his early days in radio, Reg not only covered boxing and wrestling, but also read the 7:45am news bulletin on weekdays, presented the morning show from 8:30am to 10:00am Monday to Friday, and was the late-night DJ from 9:30pm to midnight on Saturdays. All for 7 pounds and 10 shillings a week (equivalent to $15 in 2019).
"By the middle of 1949 I’d been calling fights for eighteen months and people were beginning to take notice. If I were ever going to get my head up above the crowd, maybe sport was the way to do it…so I decided to take on as many sports as I could, even if I knew nothing about them. I had a go at everything that came along." – Excerpt from Reg Grundy, Murdoch Books 2010.
As the Sports Director at 2SM, Reg covered the NSW Tennis Titles, the McWilliams Wines golf tournament and Rugby League – all sports he was unfamiliar with at the time.
Reg Grundy commentating a live sporting event for 2SM.
Reg Grundy interviewing Jimmy Carruthers after he won the World Championship Fight.
Reg became the first Australian to call a World Championship Fight when he called the fight between Jimmy Carruthers (the Australian Bantamweight Champion) and World Champion Vic Toweel in Johannesburg, South Africa.
To cover the fight, Reg had booked the only radiotelephone link from Johannesburg to Sydney and, due to the notoriously unreliable transmissions, also booked the links from Johannesburg to London and London to Sydney. He had arranged for the BBC to record his coverage and forward it to Sydney just in case the Johannesburg to Sydney link couldn’t get though, and he had organised a free return flight with Qantas in return for some mentions throughout the broadcast. Even after organising all the details, Reg still had to convince 2SM’s General Manager to let him go.
He succeeded, and the trip marked the first time Reg had travelled outside of Australia, the first time an Australian had called a World Championship Fight and the first time an Australian (Jimmy Caruthers) had officially become a World Champion.
After leaving 2SM and three months of unemployment, Reg was hired as a sports presenter and commentator at 2CH, Sydney.
It was in his first two years at 2CH that Reg began creating shows, including: 'Sporting Scrapbook', which featured a young Brian Henderson; 'Scoop The Pool', which once saw Reg interview the great Nat King Cole when a local guest dropped out of the interview special at last minute; and a Pictionary-style panel show sponsored by Sorbent.
Hot off the heels of calling his 1,000th fight, Reg was selected as one of the commentators for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Collage of newspaper clippings promotion Reg Grundy shows at 2CH.
Reg Grundy and Unknown presenting Wheel of Fortune at 2CH.
A decade after getting his first job in radio, Reg conceived the game show that would change his career – Wheel of Fortune.
The premise was simple: callers would answer general knowledge questions, and if they answered correctly, they won the chance to spin the wheel and win a prize. However, in 1957 Postmaster General regulations didn’t allow callers to be broadcast (this wasn’t authorised until 1967). So, Reg took on the role of host and acted as the voice of the callers, repeating their every word.
Wheel of Fortune was a hit with listeners and was broadcast Monday to Friday in the 2 to 4pm slot.