Retired 'voice of Clarence Valley' honoured in parliament
VETERAN broadcaster Ron Bell has been honoured in New South Wales Parliament for bringing the radio to Grafton for 46 years.
Mr Bell retired from Radio 2GF in December after a long and distinguished career as the voice of the Clarence Valley.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis paid tribute to the expert announcer and interviewer as a driving force behind getting the government to commit to building the second Grafton Bridge by 2019.
"Many young journalists are yapping at his heels, but I can say with surety that he will never be replaced," Mr Gulaptis said.
Mr Bell started his radio career as a young man in Brisbane, without any formal training, by hanging around people in the industry and learning their skills.
He sent audition tapes around regional Queensland and NSW and landed his first radio job at 2GF in 1968 on the night shift, before working his way up to the breakfast show.
In the early 1970s, he worked at other stations in Goulburn, Orange, Wollongong and Sydney, where he met two of Australia's most renowned broadcasters, John Laws and Stan Zemanek.
"However, there is no doubt that Ron's heart truly lay in the Clarence Valley and although he spent time away from Grafton in pursuit of his career, he always returned home," Mr Gulaptis said.
Mr Bell interviewed prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, as well as a raft of other top politicians and famous names.
But Mr Gulaptis said some of the broadcaster's biggest contributions were on a local level as a volunteer and campaigner.
"Ron would chair meetings in support of Grafton Base Hospital and lend his voice to numerous charity and community events such as calls for more police or his passionate crusade for a second bridge to be built in Grafton, for which he and Des Harvey have been long-time advocates," Mr Gulaptis said.
"I hope that Ron is one of the first people to drive over the bridge for which he fought so hard.
"Ron knew what the community was thinking, how we felt and he was able to communicate this to the whole of the Clarence Valley with his recognisable and reassuring voice.
"I hope your retirement is enjoyable, but your voice will be sadly missed on Radio 2GF across the Clarence Valley."