Radio legend John Brennan passes

Australian radio stalwart John Brennan (Brenno) passed on the weekend, aged 89. Throughout a long career Brennan helped to transform the radio industry and in particular talk radio, including stints on 2UE and later 2GB.

He began his radio career not long after World War II, as a sports reporter and announcer. In the 1960s he took a struggling 2SM to the top of the ratings with the “Good Guys”, in the 1980s he installed the talent at 2UE who then helped lead the station to new heights, and then in the 2000s he moved over to 2GB, where it he then contributed to its success.

John Brennan

“He understood the power of talk radio and its ability to give ordinary Australians their say, and holding law makers and institutions to account,” wrote managing director – Nine Radio, Tom Malone, in a Nine staff email.

Brennan coaxed former Wallabies coach and prime ministerial speech writer Alan Jones to get behind the microphone, and gave Ray Hadley – a former taxi driver and sports broadcaster – his start on talk back radio filling in for John Laws.

The list of talent he nurtured, grew or gave their first starts includes John Stanley, Ben Fordham, Mike Walsh, Ron Casey, Mike Gibson, Stan Zemanek, Peter Frilingos, Jason Morrison, Prue MacSween, and many many others, including straight from school a young Peter Overton.

“Personally, I remember putting down tapes at 2UE in the 90s, and leaving them at Brenno’s door seeking his approval for “on air” duties in the newsroom – one of thousands across news and programming who would have done the same thing,” wrote Malone. “In his unique style he would give feedback… ‘Tommy my boy, I think another week or so, and you’ll just about have it.’”

While he technically retired in 2007 he remained involved in talk radio, via consulting and it was not uncommon for him to call hosts to let them know he was listening or to give them feedback on segments, long after his official days in the office.

He is survived by his wife Jenny, his son Peter B Brennan, who has been program director at Sydney talk stations, 2GB, 2UE and ABC702 and his son Richard Brennan, a doctor.


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