Bruce Skeggs, who was president of 96.5 Inner FM for over 10 years, passed away peacefully at Rosanna Views Nursing Home on Thursday 21st March 2013 at the age of 80. In his working career, Bruce was well known as a parliamentarian, journalist and trotting commentator. He presented the popular morning magazine programme "Personalities on Parade" from Monday to Friday for many years.
Bruce Skeggs was born in 1932 in Sydney. He learned voice production and microphone technique at an early age and sang in bands conducted by his mother. He won a singing talent quest at the age of 11 and in his teenage years appeared as a "Quiz Kid" on the popular radio programme hosted by John Dease. Bruce started a career as a cartoonist which eventually led to journalism. When a country race caller failed to arrive at a trotting meeting, Bruce stepped in and broadcast the event. His skill that day led to offers from other clubs and Bruce Skeggs began his career as a trotting race caller.
He went on to call a world record 34,000 harness races, including 20 Inter-Dominion Grand Finals from 1959 to 1979 for a network of radio stations. Bruce called races in 10 different countries – Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Macau. He was a harness racing journalist at The Argus and Farm and Home newspapers in the early 50’s. In 1957 he joined Southdown Press and launched the original TV Week magazine. Bruce wrote the popular column "On The Beam" for TV Week and feature articles on the local television stars.
Bruce married his wife Evelyn and they had two sons and two daughters. He was the official on-course commentator for the Trotting Control Board, later known as the Harness Racing Board, at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds. Bruce was a Liberal member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1973 to 1982, representing Ivanhoe. He was the Liberal member of the Legislative Council from 1988 to 1996, representing Templestowe Province. He also served as Mayor of Heidelberg.
Bruce travelled the world as a radio broadcaster and on behalf of the many organisations in which he was involved. He was in New York on September 11th 2001 and was an eye witness to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. Bruce was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2000 for his service to harness racing, to the Victorian Parliament and local government, and to the community.
When he retired Bruce was made a patron of 96.5 Inner FM. By a strange twist of fate one of his vocal recordings was played on his beloved radio station during "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" on the day he died. Bruce was a gentleman and a role model to his family, friends and colleagues. Sadly Bruce lost his son Robbie and wife Evelyn in recent years.
Our sympathy is extended to Philip, Julie, Margaret and all the family. Who could ever forget Bruce on the microphone during our family Christmas parties, he had a beautiful voice and was a great singer. We have all lost a good friend who was a mentor to many people at 96.5 Inner FM and he will be sadly missed.
Bruce Skeggs speaks with Bruce Mansfield on "Mansfield's Melbourne" TV program on 10th March 1997, broadcast on Optus LocalVision Channel 50. Bruce talks about his early days as a race caller, working at The Argus, creating TV Week magazine and how he became involved in politics: http://youtu.be/cj3cAT-Ldbo
With thanks to Ash Long of the Melbourne Observer
Very sad to learn of the passing of Bruce Skeggs and although his health had been deteriorating for some years, this kind of news is always difficult to come to terms with. I knew Bruce very well masonically but also remember crossing to him at the trots when I was a very young announcer at 3XY in the 60's. My deepest condolences to all concerned.
Ray Lawrence, President, Radio Eastern 98.1
The Committee and Members of 3INR, 96.5 FM, express great sadness at the passing of much loved former President, Bruce Skeggs, whose leadership and enthusiasm guided the station from aspirant to established broadcaster. Bruce's legacy will never be forgotten. Sincere sympathy to Phillip, Julie, Margaret and their families. - Ken Petrucco, President 3INR.
Published in the Herald Sun 27/3/13
The Committee and Members of Eastern Community Broadcasters were saddened at the loss of their friend and colleague, Bruce. Deepest sympathies to his family.
Published in the Herald Sun 27/3/13
I was very sad to hear of the passing of Bruce Skeggs. As a young punter, I spent many a Saturday night at the Showgrounds trots listening to Bruce's dulcet tones. I was very fortunate to have worked with Bruce at Inner FM every Saturday morning for about 5 years on "The Racing and Pacing Show". His knowledge of the trotting game was second to none and it was real privilege to work with him and listen to his stories about the glory days of the trots back in the 60's and 70's. "The starter calls the field" was his catch cry as the horses moved into position. Deepest sympathy to his family and all his friends at 96.5.