Profile – The Badger
Local DJ Richard ‘The Badger’ Hazlewood (pictured left) records a radio show in his Bejoording home studio.
Bejoording Badger is top of the dial
By Ieva Tomsons
IT’S ODDS on that anyone who has seen the late great jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong in his undies will have a good story to tell.Read more
Bejoording’s Richard Hazlewood has, and he’s seen a whole lot more in his 74 years of pursuing his passion for a wide variety of musical styles.
“I worked to live – not lived to work,” said Richard who signs off correspondence with ‘happily retired at Badger’s Drift’.
Although he has been in Bejoording only six years, Richard has thrown himself into the community which has affectionately dubbed him ‘The Badger’.
Being secretary of the community group and chair, treasurer and secretary of the local volunteer bush fire brigade is a walk in the park for someone who has been an IT manager, restaurateur head-hunter and inveterate networker.
The self-confessed music fanatic and history buff who hosts Swooners and Crooners and Wide World of Folk on local radio station 2J2Air was born in Fulham, London in 1944.
Although he was born after The Blitz, his family were still shipped to Yorkshire during the second evacuation of London.
Richard recalls being surrounded by all kinds of music as he was growing up.
“My father loved jazz and the great songbook singers, and my mother loved classical music.
“I played piano back in those days and still play – to keep Alzheimer’s at bay,” quips Richard.
As a child of the ’50s and ’60s, Richard listened to everything – blues, pop, country and western, gospel, folk and rock.
“I saw all my heroes when they were starting out. The most exciting concert was The Doors/Jefferson Airplane, both in their prime with Joe Cocker as their support act,” laughs Richard.
He’s spent time on a band bus going to Wisconsin with legendary rockabilly songwriter Carl Perkins who wrote Blue Suede Shoes and, as mentioned, he’s seen Louis Armstrong in his smalls.
It was backstage at the Elephant and Castle pub in London when he met his all-time hero who was sitting around “in his boxer shorts with Vaseline smeared on his lips ready to go on stage”.
“It was only a few minutes with Satchmo, but it has stayed with me for a lifetime.”
Between chasing musicians around the country and collecting autographs and performance paraphernalia, Richard managed to get a degree in business computing from London University in the early ’60s when computing was in its infancy.
“The computer room was about 10 meters by 12 and we worked with punch cards and magnetic tape,” he laughs.
“An upgrade from 8k to 12k was an occasion to the crack the champers.”
In 1972 Richard migrated to Australia, first to Sydney where he stayed for 18 months, then Perth and on to Victoria in 1976 where he became state manager of an IT company.
“In 1978 I had my first mid-life crisis and opened a restaurant in old Williamstown in Melbourne where we had live acoustic music every night.”
For the next three years Richard fronted the restaurant and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night dashed over to Fitzroy Football Club to run a disco into the early hours.
By 1981 it was time to get back to “some real work” and Richard embarked on what turned out to be 30 years in executive recruitment, career management and redundancy counselling.
In the 10 years before retiring in 2011, he ran his own executive recruitment company specialising in headhunting scientists and academics.
“Everything I do is about communicating; it’s about creating a win-win for a successful pairing. Even my radio shows have to be fun for me and informative for the listeners.”
Richard’s extensive network was drawn on in 1999 by WA State Librarian Dr Lyn Allen who co-opted him to help raise funds to preserve WA’s visual and aural history.
A highlight of Richard’s 17-year involvement with the State Library Custodians was helping to raise $1.4m to acquire the Freycinet Collection which documents early French exploration of the WA coast and is now seen as a national treasure.
Richard was awarded a Fellowship of the State Library in 2015 to honour his service.
After music, history is Richard’s second love and he enjoys giving talks to high school students, University of the Third Age participants and historical societies.
As ‘The Badger’, he writes two monthly columns for The Toodyay Herald and presents two weekly 2J2Air radio shows based on his extensive collection of music, which he records in his home studio.
So why has a Renaissance Man such as Richard settled in a small Wheatbelt community like Bejoording?
“I’ve never met a community like it. Everyone is very close, there are no cliques and if something breaks down, someone will come and help me fix it. I love it.”