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The chance encounter that led 96FM’s Smiley to a life of radio.

A chance encounter at the Claremont Showgrounds stopped a 12-year-old Mark ‘Smiley’ Pascoe dead in his tracks.

“My dad took me to the Perth Electronics Show and Lionel Yorke and Gary Shannon were broadcasting live”

“And when I saw them speaking into that microphone, right at that moment, I knew that was what I wanted to do for rest of my life”

“I remember rushing home, turning on the transistor and I just fell in love with radio.”

Smiley was still in high school when he began broadcasting on a community station – he was just 15.

“It was extremely nerve-wracking,” he said. 

“The first song I ever played on the air was Electric Blue by Icehouse and it was on a 45” vinyl and I can clearly remember trying to cue the record and how nervous I was and my hand was shaking like a leaf… and I was only 15 years old!”

Smiley also studied at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts under broadcasting legends Earl Reeve and Anne Conti before landing his first “real job” in 1989 as the morning announcer at 6MD in Merredin. 

But he’ll never forget the day he was offered his dream gig.

“Ooh, I remember that day,” he said. 

“It was late 2002 and I was working at 6IX when I was invited by the then-programme manager Brad McNally to join the team at 96FM.”

To him, being an announcer had to be one of the most fun things a person could do, but there’s also the reality of the job.

“I later realised how much planning, work and talent it took to create that sound,” he chuckled.

 “It was a dream come true - to be working at the radio station I grew up listening to… I remember how, as a kid, how exciting it was to see that red stereo light lit up on my FM radio come on for the first time and 96FM was born.”

“The first song was FM by Steely Dan, followed by Wavelength by Van Morrison.

“96 was the first station to play music off Compact Disc and we’d play commercial-free hours, even commercial-free days,” he said.

“We had some great shows like FMTV which was stereocast on Channel 7 every Friday night with all the hot music videos hosted by the late, great Bill Ali.”

Smiley recalled the first contest 96FM did shortly after launching after August 8, 1980 – sending two people to see Bruce Springsteen in London.

“It began a tradition of exciting and innovative radio contests unlike anything Perth had ever seen, and that hasn’t changed in 40 years.”

“Stuff like their Rock Around The World trips, the Gold Pass, Rock Words and the Cut-Price Concerts where you could see bands like Cold Chisel for $9.96 at the Entertainment Centre.”

Then there was also the 96FM Input Line.

“If the listener had something to say, maybe an opinion on the news, a joke or reviewing a concert or an album, you’d call the Input Line,” Smiley remarked. “It was like the 80s’ version of Facebook!”

He then recalled the must-have car accessory of the 90s.

“Just about every second car on the road had one of those 96FM Rocks Perth stickers!”

Smiley recalled the distinctive 96FM logo, which was inspired by a piece of music.

“Meaning ‘moderately forceful’, and that little sharp notation was added to signal clarity.”

One of his favourite things? Telling someone, live on air, they’ve won something – sometimes even getting more excited than the contestant. 

“That’s one of the best things about this job! We get to change people’s lives by giving away prizes that they can only ever dream about.”

“We love a good scream!”