Fri 5 Jul 2024

The PBS staff and volunteer community are deeply saddened by the passing of Ian Sutherland, who passed away on Friday July 5, 2024.


Ian Sutherland custom-built CD shelves lining his hall to house his Beach Music collection.
Here he stands with the Carolina Beach Music Industry Appreciation Award in view.
Photo supplied by Amanda Blohm

Longtime PBS volunteer, most recently Ian hosted bi-weekly Shaggin' the Night Away; a 4-hour program sharing the best of Carolina Beach Music every 2nd Wednesday morning, airing from 2006 until 2022.

“We have lost a wonderfully knowledgeable radio presenter. Ian's show was well respected in the Carolina Beach Music scene and it was a show I always listened back to. He was a thoughtful and generous person with a rye wit, he will be missed. Rest easy Soul Brother.” – Miss Goldie, Boss Action

“Passionate about his genre with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and funny as heck. He will be greatly missed.” – Matt Frederick, The Juke Joint

Born in London 1948, Ian always enjoyed music and by age 12, he carried a transistor tuned into Radio Luxembourg. He developed a love for American music, and was gifted 78s and 45s by the next-door neighbour who introduced him to Jackie Wilson and the Platters singing 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes'. After school, he'd sit in with the live studio audience at Ready Steady Go!. As a young mod in London, he immersed himself in the music scene, attending local venues including the likes of The Flamingo Club, a melting pot where he said that:

"American GIs from the airforce bases, young West Indians, African students, and mods hung out at the nightclub.  The American GIs brought their 45s with the latest American releases with them when they came to the Flamingo and played them on the club’s sound system."

When he arrived in Australia in 1965 with his parents and his two sisters under the assisted passenger scheme, he found Melbourne a "music wilderness". While living in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, Ian's friend invited him to join the ALP. He got involved with the East Timor Association, which led him to 3CR at Cromwell Street.

At 3CR, he was part of a Gang of Four who presented the New Wave Show, alongside Bill Smale, David James and Jeff Rule. From the late 70's to early '80s, he also presented Rudy's Sound System. The program featured music from the 1950s onwards and Ian tried to expand listeners understanding of the roots of reggae music and the broad spectrum of reggae performers.  On 8-track cart, Peter Tosh described the program as “the best reggae show in Australia”.

Whilst at 3CR, he managed 3ST – the student radio station based at RMIT, transmitting to the students on campus.  The station supported equal rights for women, gay rights, and racial equality, and was a training ground for young RMIT broadcasters, some of whom became 3CR presenters.  At the time the station was nominated for a prestigious radio award known as PATERS award including Best Community Station in Australasia. Ian was personally nominated for Best Technical Production in a field including well-resourced commercial and state broadcasters. Ian felt was an honour considering the year's winner in that category was the ABC for their 1982 coverage of the Commonwealth Games. 

Ian Sutherland, interviewed by Katie Shiell, using the 3ST Superscope cassette recorder at the PATERS award ceremony at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne, October 14, 1983
Photographer: Unknown


Years later, his old 3CR friend Jeff Rule was hosting two programs at PBS and was facing on and off-air challenges. As a good friend, Ian helped by providing sage advice, a lift from Balaclava to Collingwood, behind-the-scenes on-air supervision, and companionship in the studio. This was a true test of friendship, as Ian was not a metal person and that's what Jeff was playing.

Shaggin' The Night Away on Saturday night on the PBS Program Guide in 2006


Then, when the time was right, Ian returned to the airwaves. In his own words: "When I was putting together a program proposal for air time on PBS-FM I thought that Carolina Beach music was a genre of music that I liked and which no one in Australia knew about........ Put simply beach music is history you can dance to".

Shaggin' The Night Away originally aired in an Insomnia slot, then moved to Saturday nights. Later in an unusual move, found a new home on Wednesday's between 2am-6am. Whilst most might find presenting a show in the middle of the night as a barrier to reach a listening audience, Ian saw it differently. In his mind, somewhere in the world that was PRIME TIME. Streaming opened up a new audience as Ian exposed Carolina Beach Music locally and globally.

In 2014 he was the first person outside of the US to be awarded CBMA Industry Appreciation Award - AKA CAMMY - a testament to his dedication to his work. His program was even syndicated on an internet radio station.

Ian's partner, Amanda says he was proud to be a PBS announcer. As well as a music lover and broadcaster, he is remembered as a kind, intelligent, generous, and funny person who enjoyed life. Ian's PBS show page read: "A cold drink, a warm night & a hot date (+ the right music). That’s what life is all about."

Vale Ian Sutherland.



Incredibly intelligent & perceptive human. Cared about the world & others. But never lost his sense of humour & the aburd. Still recall late night parties laughing at Monty Python & solving the problems of the universe. He was a genuine asset to the Croydon ALP - Alistair McInnes


I listened back nearly every week. I loved the music, and he clearly knew his stuff. Though I never met him, I feel quite sad to hear he’s gone - Fiona


Waking up in the wee small hours, rolling over and turning on the radio to 106.7 Ian's soothing voice and tunes would keep me company, 'till sleep returned - Greg Van Meeuwen


Loved sharing both your music and knowledge, rest easy Ian - Paul Van der Zant


Proud to have known Ian as a friend and mentor for forty-five years. It was Ian who got me into broadcasting and introduced me to many styles of music. Sadly missed - Peter A.D. Fogarty


I got to know Ian in the 80’s when I was managing the Pater Awards. A kind and gentle soul, his music knowledge was on a par with Ed Nimmervoll, the two greatest musical men I knew. I remember when Stevie Wonder was in Oz on tour and at one point refused all interviews EXCEPT Ian. Lost touch in recent years but loved the guy. Sending love to Amanda! - Charles Collins