From the age of seven, Derek’s ambition was to be on the wireless. He has had a fascination for the way radio provides a unique form of community for as long as he can remember. The years between seven and when he finally commenced his broadcasting career contained a range of life’s experiences that stood him in good stead for crafting the radio relationship he understood.
At age 17, Derek spent 12 months in the United States of America on the AFS student exchange program. Living with an African-American family in Minneapolis he learnt about prejudice first-hand. It was an experience which continues to inform his attitudes and understanding. It was also the scene of his biggest musical regret, when he missed out on a Jimi Hendrix concert because the people he was staying with felt he would be too jet-lagged to enjoy it. With his distinctively personable style and good humour, Derek presented the state-wide Afternoon Program on 774 ABC Melbourne and ABC Local Radio throughout Victoria and Southern New South Wales for three years then took up the reins of the ABC Evening Program for Victoria in 2003. In September 2011, Derek departed from his top rating evening radio show and the ABC after a career of 25 years at the microphone.
Derek was fortunate to accompany the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on its 2007 European tour as a journalist and blogger. Members of the Brass Section told me of their plans to visit Villers-Bretonneux, inviting me to recite the Ode of Remembrance at a private commemorative service for Nelson Ferguson and all those who served. That day in Villers-Bretonneux is deeply etched into the memories of all of us as a truly remarkable and emotional experience. We were warmly welcomed as friends and discovered the depth of feeling that remains for Australia and Australians.