Robin Bailey wants to 'draw line in the sand' on suicide

THOUSANDS of radio listeners could not hear the presenter's sobs while a song inspired by suicide cut through the airwaves.

But in the 97.3FM station mother-of-three Robin Bailey's strong facade had momentarily cracked.

It was only four months after her husband Tony committed suicide.

Coincidentally American band G.R.L.'s lead singer Simone Battle took her own life the same week as Tony.

In honour of Ms Battle the band created the ballad that brought Robin to tears - Lighthouse.

Robin knew she would struggle when the station aired it, but still believed it had an important message that listeners needed to hear.

The popular presenter from breakfast program Robin, Terry and Bob said she returned to work to "draw a line in the sand", showing her husband's passing was not going to be all she was associated with.

"Despite this being the most heartbreaking thing for our family, that's not what this show is about," Robin said.

Any thoughts that she was abandoning her sons, aged 10, 12, and 14, had been dismissed by her middle son, who cheekily ordered her to get back on the air.

"He said 'Mum, you have to go back to work ... because you're using far too many words on us'," Robin said.


Radio breakfast presenter Robin Bailey speaks in the studio she and her colleagues from the program Robin, Terry and Bob use at the 97.3FM Brisbane radio station. PHOTO: David Stuart
Radio breakfast presenter Robin Bailey speaks in the studio she and her colleagues from the program Robin, Terry and Bob use at the 97.3FM Brisbane radio station. PHOTO: David Stuart

She saw the best of strangers in the worst of circumstances, with listeners unknown to her as well as friends and family helping her and the boys to move forward.

Robin took her sons on an African safari, capturing video and photos of lions and an elephant casually walking past them.

"I wanted them to see we are part of a circle of life and that certainly worked when a massive lion comes walking past your car and you're not in a cage," Robin said.

As Robin looks ahead to what 2015 will hold, she offers a bittersweet hope that the family's "happy days" will become more consecutive.

On a professional front she's crossing her fingers this will be the year they win best radio team at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards.

"We've been nominated four, five, six times and we've never won," Robin said.

The program captured Queenslanders' attention during the state election when then Premier Campbell Newman and Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk tripped up during on-air quizzes.

"We just wanted to put them into our format and we do a thing called the $1000 minute," Robin said.

"There was a fair bit of thought going into the questions."

Although Mr Newman fared worse in the election than the program, he admitted he could not spell Ms Palaszczuk's last name.

But Ms Palaszczuk was widely criticised for forgetting the level GST is set at.

"We don't want to make (people) look stupid, but when they make themselves look stupid - wow, that's a gift," Robin said. 

George Clooney
George Clooney Bang Showbiz


OVER the years Robin has interviewed stars such as Pink, Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew McConaughey.

But the interview that sticks with her came from much earlier in her career as the 37th reporter, of 37, to chat with George Clooney when he was promoting one of his Batman films.

Instead of the caped crusader, though, the pair discussed the hunky actor's pet piglets.

Robin learnt one of the most important rules that she has held on to throughout her career, talk to people about what they love.

It is a different type of mess-maker Robin loves talking about, though - her boys.

But she knows she cannot do it too much, with her oldest son already frustrated.

While her middle son might follow in his mother's broadcast steps, actually attempting quirky acts and trying to convince Robin to tell her listeners.



Robin is a chip off the old block.

Her father, who passed away when she was young, worked in Sydney University's film and television department.

Robin's author grandmother had a book turned into a mini-series and her 79-year-old professor mother still has a hand in the lives of potential future broadcasters.

She adventures to remote Aboriginal communities by herself and teaches people how to use cameras.

Robin said her mischievous mother was once stranded on a Nullarbor Plain road after her tyre blew out.

She was able to replace her first tyre, but needed help with the second.

For three days buses passed her on the side of the road, until a Greyhound driver passed her a second time on the way back to find her why she was still there.



ONE object Robin's mother would have passed on her many road trips is one of the things that would make Robin simply pass out.

What her listeners would not know is that Robin has a phobia of most dead animals.

She admits dead flies are fine, but she cannot look at other creatures.

"It freaks me out," Robin said.



SOCIAL media might be very different to rotting animal corpses, but it does not stop it from being on Robin's list of concerns.

"I think because the whole social media world is so instant there is this whole expectation everything will come to you," she said.

"That's what worries me with this generation.

"I don't think they know what it is to have hardship.

"My kids certainly do now, that's the irony of it."

Robin believes people need to remember to be in the moment and "making connections" face-to-face.


From The Heart: Australian Icons Speak Out.
From The Heart: Australian Icons Speak Out.

This piece is the final instalment part of the series, From The Heart: Aussie Icons Speak Out from Australian Regional Media.


In this video series we have also spoken to great Australians including: 

Child safety heroes Bruce and Denise Morcombe,

Television icon Ray Martin,

Wildlife Warriors Bindi and Terri Irwin,

Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh,

Celebrity cooks and soon-to-be parents Dan and Steph Mulheron,

Radio legends Amanda Keller and Brendan 'Jonesy' Jones,

Regional construction magnate John Wagner and

Basketball icon Brian Kerle

Topics:  editors picks fromtheheart journalism suicide

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