WATCH: The 2021 Hitz FM reZOOMion

March 11th is an important date on the Hitz FM calendar. It’s the anniversary of the final night of the history-making 3rd broadcast. And this year, I wanted to make it special.

So over a number of weeks, I organised a Zoom catchup with many of the original Hitz gang. But I had no idea how much work the entire project would take.

At the end of this post you can watch the full 30 minute documentary.
But how did it happen?
And what did I stuff up?

Volunteers walking into the Hitz FM Melbourne Morrabbin studios

Where do I begin?

I started with a big hit list of possible Hitz FM guests. I tried to have a mix of the different areas of the radio station – announcers, news, management, other volunteers. Plus a reasonable mix of male/female participants.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get either of the founders (Nick and Anton) along for the night. Hopefully they’ll be available for a future catchup. I also asked a few of our admin (phone answering) volunteers but they weren’t available. But I did get some great guests with a real mix of personalities.

The Hitz FM ‘cruiser number 23’ thanks to Melbourne’s Cheapest Cars

Lets do this…

Myf Webster (Trant) was one of the earliest Hitz members and a driving force behind the music of Broadcast 3. Andrew Gyopar was president for most of Hitz FM’s operation. James Ash, Glenn Hampson and Darryl Rae were announcers. Julie Doyle and Paul Dowsley were newsreaders. They all agreed to participate and at 8.30pm on March 11th, I waited for them to arrive in the Zoom.

Jamie, Andrew, Paul and Julie were the first to arrive, and instantly the 27 years between ‘then’ and now disappeared. All the old jokes and characters came to life again as the Hitz FM reZOOMion got underway.

James Ash, Gabe McGrath, Andrew Gyopar, Paul Dowsley, Julie Doyle

We were chatting away for quite some time, when Jamie suddenly asked “So, is this it then?” I hurriedly waved my mouse cursor around and to my horror discovered that everyone else had been stuck waiting in a virtual ‘lobby’ and I hadn’t seen the notifications.

Thankfully, a quick press of the button and everyone appeared.

James Ash, Gabe McGrath, Andrew Gyopar
Paul Dowsley, Julie Doyle, Glenn Hampson
My Webster (Trant), Darryl Rae

What a night!

It was a brilliant catchup. Lots of memories and jokes about the Summer of 93/94, the crazy growth of Hitz FM and the emotional rollercoaster of the final night on March 11th.

Jamie posed some intersting questions (eg “What would our lives have been like, without this event in 94?”).

Andrew explained that Hitz’s 3rd broadcast almost didn’t happen due to lack of money. Paul and Julie spoke about the incredible media coverage and the effect of Hitz on the teens of Melbourne. Darryl and Glenn talked about the incredible reaction from listeners and the songs we loved and loathed.

The Hitz FM reZOOMion wrapped up after two hours and we all left smiling. But then I had a problem; how on EARTH was I going to shorten the video and spice it up enough so that people would enjoy watching it? After all, most of us fall asleep after 10 minutes of ‘talking heads on Zoom’. Luckily I had a tonne of videos/photos to add some interest and a new free program to learn.

Screenshot of the OpenShot

And now, the full Director’s Cut…

OpenShot fits my budget ($0) perfectly and I was able to teach myself quickly how to drive it. You can mix a huge number of video/audio tracks. And I had a large library of Hitz FM photos, TV news reports and home movies to play throughout the documentary to add visual interest.

There were also some parts of the conversation that lent themselves to adding extra graphics – such as an impromptu “Hitz CD library code quiz” that we suddenly thrust upon Myf. She could STILL name most of them within 2 seconds so I added a comical ‘stopwatch’ and ‘green tick’ as she smashed through the questions and answers.

The editing took about 3 weeks. It was a massive job shrinking 2 hours of video into 30 minutes, and adding all the little extra vision/photos. And then I uploaded it in two halves – onto my Gabe McGrath Facebook page.

A small fraction of the extra content added to the 2021 Hitz reZOOMion video

It took off.. and you can watch it here.

I shared the video on the Hitz FM staff Facebook page, and a few ‘Clubbing in the 90s’ Facebook pages. There were tonnes of views (not bad for 2 pretty long videos at 15 minutes each) and lots of really kind feedback.

Of course, cutting the documentry in half was only to suit the short attention spans of people as they ‘flick’ through Facebook. Now, as I’m hosting it here on my site I’ve re-edited the video back into a complete 30 minute clip – the way it was intended it to run.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I really hope you enjoy the 2021 Hitz FM reZOOMion. There’s some great laughs and surprises in there.

Enjoy.


PS: Watch it fullscreen if you can – it’ll look much better.

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