15 Jan 2013

Broadcaster makes a little history of his own

10:19 pm on 15 January 2013

Radio New Zealand's Jim Sullivan is celebrating 50 years in broadcasting this week.

Mr Sullivan began his radio career as a school leaver in 1963 and was on his way to see the Timaru Herald newspaper for a job when he decided to try his luck at local radio station 3ZC next door.

By the afternoon of his first day, he had moved from the accounts section to programmes and at the age of 17 was described as probably the youngest DJ in the country, fronting a Saturday afternoon show called Teen Beat.

Mr Sullivan went on join Radio New Zealand, where he has worked in a variety of roles - including as a presenter on its flagship programme Morning Report.

It was his voice that broke the news about New Zealand's worst civil disaster in which all 237 passengers and 20 crew were killed after a plane crashed into Mt Erebus while on a sightseeing trip to Antarctica in November 1979.

Other roles included stints at NZBC stations in Christchurch and Palmerston North in the 1960s before he enrolled at the University of Otago.

Jim Sullivan presents Radio New Zealand's popular Sounds Historical programme on Sunday nights, which has been on the air since 1992.

The programme is something of a labour of love for Mr Sullivan, who has always had a passion for documenting New Zealand history - particularly non-academic oral history as recorded by the voices of the average New Zealander.

He has also worked at 4ZB in Dunedin, Radio Netherlands in Holland, as manager of the Oral History Centre at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington and as chief archivist with Sound Archives.