Why Grant Denyer deserves to get lucky at the Logies
HE may have been an industry fixture for two decades, but one of our country's most recognisable faces hasn't had a lot of success in the awards category.
Grant Denyer is up for the Gold Logie tomorrow - again, after losing it to Samuel Johnson last year - and it's a laughably familiar feeling for him.
"I did the math the other day on how many times I've been nominated and it's been 22 times either personally or shows I've worked on," he says.
"Yeah it's pretty embarrassing really … but my strike rate is impressive."
With the TV Week Logies hosted in our backyard for the first time, perhaps Grant's Coast connection will get him over the line?
While he's now based in the regional NSW town of Bathurst, Grant and the Gold Coast go way back. His dad, Craig, still lives here.
"I was a commercial radio consultant in the UK, we lived there for two years, the kids went to school over there," Craig explains.
"I started on Gold Coast back in 1988 when the company I was involved with won the new FM license.
"Grant and the family were living in London, so we came to the GC to set up SeaFM, the original SeaFM in March 1989.
"That's my link to radio. I was the GM for seven or eight years in the formative years of the company's development.
"The irony is now Sea FM is a Southern Cross Austereo radio station and now he's at the same station down in Sydney."
Those highly influential early teen years for Grant were spent hanging around a commercial radio station at a time when TV and radio stars were "it".
He spent as much time as he could basking in the celebrity that swaggered down the hallways and learning what he could about the industry.
"I was about 13 at that point and, for a 13-year-old, running up and down the halls of a radio station was pretty awesome," Grant says.
"I remember stars like Kate Ceberano - I'd be there with album cover and a Texta for her to sign.
"I used to put away a lot of the DJs CDs - they had CDs back then - they'd ask for a song and I'd run and get it. They were like rock stars all the DJs.
"I'd be hanging out in the Sea Cruisers, giving away cans of Cokes and tickets, it was about as exciting as it gets at that age."
But even before then, basically as soon as he could talk, Grant gravitated towards showbiz.
Anyone who has heard or seen the 40-year-old star can admit he possesses a certain exuberance that can't be taught.
"I'd be in my bedroom with my tape decks, back announcing songs on my tape recorder," Grant says of his childhood.
"I had a Fischer Price record player and a Muppet record I would scratch and rap that and I thought I was pretty good. I thought I was the king."
"He also recorded his first commercial at four years old," Craig adds.
"It was a road safety commercial and he played the role of the kid travelling in the car."
"There was another one I did around the same age, it might have been for The Smith Family and it was what a little boy wanted for Christmas and I wanted a helicopter," Grant says.
"Little boy, big dreams."
The pay cheque for that job wasn't put towards a helicopters though.
"I think I got a Kinder Surprise," Grant says, feigning outrage.
"Everyone in radio has to start somewhere," his dad quips.
While there's playful banter between these two, there is a powerful and clear father-son bond.
It would have been easy for them to drift apart, with the pressures of Grant's Sunrise weatherman job that saw him crisscrossing the country or his six-nights-a-week primetime game show gig or his breakfast radio slot with Ed Kavalee and Em Rusciano.
The more pressure Grant was under, the more he needed his dad. And his dad has all the time in the world for Grant.
"He's been a really sound voice in my career. It's a tough industry to navigate and there are a lot of traps," Grant says.
"You have to avoid bad shows. The one show you pick that fails is the one that stops your career in its tracks.
"When Family Feud came along I had reservations.
"I wasn't sure I wanted to be a game show host. I wasn't comfortable with that title and I wasn't sure if bringing back an old show was the right thing to do.
"Dad was encouraging. His advice was make it your own, you don't have to make it like it used to be.
"Make it fresh, make it work. So I changed my mind and it was one of the best things I've done so far."
Craig is happy to be a pillar of support for his son, but in no way takes the credit for any of Grant's success.
"TV is such cutthroat business, you're only as successful as your last ratings," Craig says knowingly.
"One of Grant's biggest strengths is he can work in different formats; weather, hard news - he did a fantastic job of Cyclone Yasi, he was one of the first journos being battered using an iPhone.
"So he's got the ability to do hard news, be funny, hold down a quiz show and make people feel comfortable - to hold down that 6pm prime-time slot for four years is fantastic.
"I'm very, very proud of him, he's really done it all himself."
Unable to miss the opportunity for some perfectly timed comedy to cut through a tender moment shared by this stranger, Grant jumps in with: "He's never said this to my face by the way."
As they both have a laugh it's impossible not to see the similarities between the two, even their voices.
And that's not where the parallels end.
"My early years at SeaFM also fostered my love of motor racing because of my involvement in the Indy and Grant followed that with his love of racing too," Craig says.
"After about seven or eight years the company was sold and I decided to take a break from radio and at that point Channel 10 picked up motor racing. So I did commentary for Channel 10 calling support events.
"My plan was to take a 12-month break and that turned into a full-time role … it's still what I do now.
"I used to run a category at the Indy called the V8 Ute Series and I'm currently running a new series called Muscle Cars, which is current-bodied Camaro cars that race around Australia too.
"Grant is still involved, our lives are very much paralleled. He's been incredibly more successful than I have, however."
Many Australians know that Grant Denyer dabbles in car racing, but there was a point where he was tossing up between cars and showbiz.
They were both equally viable options for him, winning "a trophy" as the men put it, as recently as 2016 driving a McLaren 650S GT3 in the Australian Endurance Championship.
But when you combine his prominence in the Australian media and a daredevil hobby like motor sports, the results can be terrifying, as they were in 2008 when he suffered a serious injury in a monster truck event.
"When you're in the media you are public property, the press want to know everything and anything," Craig says.
"His monster truck accident … I was in New Zealand and heard about it from a mate.
"I jumped on a plane, not believing it was all that serious.
"Well that was until we got word he'd broken his back and it was quite serious.
"Obviously that is a time you'd like to have with your family but it also comes with support, even messages I received were quite overwhelming.
"In Australia we love our personalities, we take them into our family."
Both Denyers are hoping that come July 1, those fans, the people Grant considers his family, remember the impact of his endless enthusiasm on their TV screens and hit "vote" for the Gold Logie.
Craig pulls no punches - he thinks his son should win.
"If it was judged on TV hours, ratings, consider Grant is on six nights a week, and to hold that down for years," he says.
"My opinion is it's Grant's turn.
"Grant has worked very hard, he's extremely successful at everything he's done, it would be a fitting reward for a life that's been very well lived.
"But to even be recognised as one of the best in Australia, that just makes everything worth it."
But, as we know, whether it's racing or Logies, Grant has suffered his share of losses and you can hear in his voice he's ready for that luck to change.
"I've lost enough of these. I've been nominated 22 times so I'm well practised in the art of losing," he says.
"I've lost enough to know to celebrate the nomination.
"This might be the last time I'm nominated with Family Feud being rested, so to win - and on the Gold Coast of all places where I have such a strong history, where there are new traditions being formed - that would just be indescribable.
"Limos are so passé, I'm going to ride a dolphin to the Logies this year.
"After, I'm going to put my boardies and thongs on and ride a moped home with Tracy Grimshaw on the back."
And if he wins?
"I'll be pushing Tracy in a trolley down Cavill Avenue and I'll glue my Gold Logie to dad's car like a big, shiny hood ornament."