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Hamish and Andy on what truly made their radio show a success story.

On Friday, Australia’s favourite radio show came to an end the way we all knew it would – with Guy Sebastian singing Coconut Love, Vance Joy leading Cool Boys and the Front Man in a rendition of We are the Champions, and Peking Duk as their supporting act to an audience of 6000 at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena.

It was an event that truly marked the end of an era.

Hamish Blake and Andy Lee have been on radio since 2003, and in the years since have become one of the highest-rating radio series in Australian history. The podcast version of their show is currently downloaded more than one million times every week.

In a climate where maintaining a stable role in radio is harder than ever, Hamish and Andy have established a cult following. Their listeners are acutely aware of Andy’s birthday (and how he’s a bit of a diva about celebrating it), Cacklin’ Jack’s momentary penchant for memes, and of course, the smart-casual (and incidentally bestselling) fragrance for men, Andy by Hamish.

Listen: Clare Stephens gushes over Hamish and Andy’s TV show, True Story. Post continues after audio.

For their last week in radio, podcast Game Changers recorded a special episode about the story behind Hamish and Andy. And while their success is usually attributed to their unique brand of humour, genuine friendship, and commitment to generally being ridiculous,  the interview with Craig Bruce makes clear that this is far from the full story.

It all started at Melbourne University. “I went to uni and I met Andy at uni, first year uni… we became very close buddies,” says Hamish. Andy says he recalls “Hamish saying to me, ‘I’ve heard a lot about you,’ and I said, ‘really?’ and he said, ‘nup’.”

It was when the two friends went on a road trip to the top of Australia (Andy bet Hamish his car couldn’t make it… so obviously they had to try), that they realised how much fun they had together. They turned the story into a piece for the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and the idea of going on an adventure just to see how it will turn out has been a staple of their careers in entertainment ever since.

In Game Changers, Hamish and Andy refer to three main facets that contributed to their success.

Good habits from the beginning – especially with each other.

Andy says that from the beginning, he and Hamish had an attitude of genuinely wanting to improve as on-air talent, and being particularly open to feedback.

“I loved the airchecks,” he says, referring to recordings used by talent for the purpose of evaluation. “I think most people in radio would spew at the thought of that… but I just wanted to know how do [the bosses] think we could improve.”

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The radio duo also worked for free in their early days, saying wanting to be on-air was more important than being paid. They were young, however, and in a position where working for free was possible for them.

Their habits with each other also got off to a good start. “We never yelled at each other, Hamish and I,” Andy says. “We could just tell if something was off… and instead of being scared of that, we’d move into that. Hame is really good in that area. He can be really great in those moments, and I think everyone just wants to be heard… and we lent into those feelings.”

“Andy never takes no for an answer.”

Hamish and Andy say that Andy in particular never, ever takes no for an answer. And it’s a mentality that’s spread to the rest of the team.

When asked why he can’t accept the word ‘no’, Andy says, “Because I feel like there’s always a way. I just think there’s always a way”.

Luckily, when it comes to their show, there usually is.

“That 2006-2010 period,  those five years of drive, we just never heard the word no,” Hamish says. “Maybe because we did get off to that good start, so by the end of that first year, we were rating well. It’s easier for people to say yes when it’s working.”

But in the last few years, they’ve had a few ideas that seemed impossible at the beginning. Andy used the example of their Tall Ship Adventure, where they filled a ship with people and gifts from mainland Australia and travelled to Tasmania – broadcasting the show from the ship. It took a year for the team to figure out a way to make it happen, but ultimately, it did.

“As soon as we’ve got these ideas, everyone didn’t want to take no for an answer, from the engineering team to the producing team,” Andy says.

For them, it’s real.

Andy says one experience in Ho Chi Minh while filming Gap Year sums up he and Hamish’s philosophy when it comes to their show.

They decided to have a race to see who could do 250 laps around the busiest roundabout in the city the fastest – on mini bikes.

It was a peculiar experiment, but someone had to do it… Full video at hamishandandy.com

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It was dangerous. It was silly. It wasn’t fully thought through.

Around the 100 lap mark, Andy’s bike broke. The race was over. He was out, Hamish had won by default. The crew called out to Hamish that the race was done and he could stop. But he wouldn’t stop. Finishing before completing 250 laps would qualify as a ‘did not finish’ – and that wasn’t the aim. Andy says Hamish “went for probably another hour,” which was essentially pointless. No one would ever know when they watched the show. But Andy says it’s the genuine dedication to their ideas, and the love of it all being real, that’s the fun of it.

Hamish also says that the reason their show and their ideas work “isn’t because that’s the magic recipe,” and every show should do a caravan tour or a Tall Ship Adventure or start a band. “It only worked because we loved those trips,” he says.

The fun is genuine, and it’s amplified by their listeners.

“If there’s a fun premise and fun to be had, our listeners always make it ten times funnier,” Andy says.

On a deeper level, Game Changers host Craig Bruce brings up a particularly moving quality about the pair that might be the reason they resonate with so many Australians. He says at Hamish’s wedding, Ryan Shelton said in his speech as best man that Hamish has “mastered the art of living life,” and “when you do something with Hamish, you know he’s creating a memory or an experience for everyone”.

When presented with this quote, Hamish says it’s his mantra, and it’s only thing he lives by. “If you’re ever worried about a decision – that’s your decision: Is it going to be a good memory?”

Hamish and Andy has been about creating memories, for the hosts, their team, and the audience.

And that’s why it’s been such a resounding success.