23 June 2019
Before he became one of New Zealand’s best known newsreaders, Tom Bradley was a teenager starting off in radio. At age 19, he joined Palmerston North station 2ZA as a radio announcer before moving to Hamilton’s Radio 1ZH as a television newsreader. In 1969, Tom moved to Auckland to become one of the ‘good guys’ at Radio Hauraki where he indulged his passion for singing, recording a 45rpm single, ‘Fly with Me’.
Tom jetted off to Sydney in 1970 to pitch ‘Fly with Me’ to Channel Nine and within a few weeks of hitting the town, was singing it on Bandstand, a high-rating music show. When he performed the song again for the breakfast show on an opposition channel, he learned that they were looking for an on-screen daytime newsreader. Over the next three years, Tom hosted a Saturday morning children’s show, worked on their regular Telethons, and sang on variety shows. He also launched a cabaret act around the local nightclub circuit.
Tom, by now with a young family, was offered a job in Wellington radio, while freelancing as a voice-over artist on commercials and keeping his eyes open for television gigs. In 1974 he became the host of religious quiz show Jacob’s Ladder while also conducting occasional TV interviews for the Wellington newsroom.
When state television was split into two channels in 1975, Tom did a short period as the continuity announcer for the revamped TV One, and was there on TV2’s opening night in June 1975 — as part of a twin newsreading team fronting News At Ten. Tom soon moved into the primetime spot, teaming up with John Hawkesby to co-host TV2’s 6pm news show. There he faced one of the biggest stories of his career — the 1979 Air New Zealand crash on Mt Erebus. By the time he left broadcasting in 1998, Tom had clocked up over 30 years as a professional broadcaster.
Beyond newsreading, Tom’s professional life has mainly revolved around his writing. In the early 90s, he began writing the first of more than 20 children’s books, mainly family comedy-dramas and teenage thrillers. He has been published in Australasia and the United States.