News July 12, 2021

How Jonathan Coleman first expanded rock music to children’s TV

How Jonathan Coleman first expanded rock music to children’s TV

Jonathan ‘Jono’ Coleman OAM had a wide and TV career in Australia and the UK, before his untimely death on Friday.

His media career included stints as presenter, with Ian ‘Dano’ Rogerson on triple j and Triple M where a combination of humour and new music saw them amass a huge following.

They took the formula in 1988 to Seven Network’s new music show Saturday Morning Live.

Its lengthy time-slot of 9am to 12:30pm allowed them to tap into new and established music with videos, live performances, interviews and character routines.

It became the most-watched music TV show of that time before it ended in December, 1989.

However in terms of music discovery, Coleman made his presence felt in the 1970s when he joined children show Simon Townsend’s Wonder World as a reporter.

“Simon set up the show as a children’s version of Willesee and A Current Affair, he was quite a visionary that way,” Coleman would recall.

Willesee used a lot of mainstream music, so with music fans as myself and other Wonder World reporters like Angela Cattern and Adam Bowen, it made sense to go that way as well.”

However Channel 10 had a problem with using music on its shows due to copyright clearance issues.

Undaunted, Coleman used his contacts in his early career on radio and in adland to directly approach the record companies and publishers.

“I argued it made sense to get music in front of a young demo that would become the next new generation of music buyers.”

He nutted out a deal where the network paid $10 for each time a segment of a clip was used.

Not only did Wonder World use the music of the superstars, but its reporters pushed to expose new acts such as INXS, The Cure and Dragon.

Coleman, born in February 1956 in London, went on to a fully-rounded media career that included TV and radio, game show hosting, entertainment reporting for morning TV, corporate voice overs for ads, tireless charity fundraising and cameos in movies including Young Einstein and Midnite Spares.

In 1984 Coleman released an album Jonathan Coleman’s Polka Project, which yielded a number of singles including ‘Busy Bleeding’ as ‘Wide Boy Youth’ which peaked at #59.

After returning to Australia after a 1990 to 2006 stint in the UK, he co-hosted Drive on ARN’s Classic Hits from 2007 to 2011, first with Julia Zemiro and then with Rogerson, reaching #2 on the time slot in Sydney and Melbourne.

He was also the voice of national radio show My Generation from 2004 to 2010, and more recently appeared on Channel 10’s Studio 10.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer five years ago and passed away in Sydney on July 9, aged 65. He was married with two children.

Rogerson tweeted: “We had a million laughs and I know whenever I think of him I will smile.”

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