Vale Chris Winter, gifted broadcaster and new media guru

Chris Winter.

Chris Winter, a pivotal figure in Australian public broadcasting for more than 40 years, has died in Sydney, aged 72.

Winter was a founder member of the on-air staff at the ABC’s Double Jay, which launched in 1975, after hosting the rock music program Room to Move for ABC regional stations from 1971.

Marius Webb, the station’s co-founder, said Room to Move was conceived by producer Ted Robinson and was an independent beacon in a sea of musical commercialisation, which led to the creation of Double Jay.

Winter’s career as “a presenter of serious and interesting music continued at Double Jay and his love of things digital and archival underlined his ‘second’ career in the ABC,” Webb said. “We have lost a remarkable, talented and precious friend.”

ABC announcer Simon Marnie said: ”Chris Winter was the epitome of the Double J/Triple Jay spirit. He pushed boundaries while maintaining discipline, he had the most dulcet tones and a love of media that echoed through the bones of anyone fortunate to work alongside him.

“It was Chris and Marius that gave me my first break in radio, that taught me to push boundaries, always think of the audience, never let doubt cloud your methodology and Chris, particularly, allowed his passion for new methods and new technology inspire others.”

Margaret Throsby paid tribute to Winter as one of the country’s most gifted broadcasters, observing: “Chris’ unforgettable late night program Room to Move was never equaled. Nobody was as good on air as he was.”

Former National Film and Sound Archive of Australia executive Dominic Case said: “His career, transitioning from presenting steam radio to the cutting edge of digital media, was innovative all the way, and nothing short of illustrious.”

In 1979 he was selected by Double Jay staff to be one the managers (called coordinators) responsible for financial matters, staff, production and policy management.

He spent 13 years in the ABC’s new media and innovation divisions, including five years as manager, new services. In 2005 he managed the broadcaster’s first digital only channel ABC2 from launch for its first two and a half years.

In 2004 he was joint recipient of an Australian Recording Industry Association award for best music DVD for his production work on Midnight Oil’s Best of Both Worlds. In 2007 he was presented with the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association’s outstanding achievement award.

Since leaving the ABC in 2012 he worked as a consultant on numerous projects including for the CSIRO’s erstwhile Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation and as a mentor at XMediaLab. He served on the board of Metro Screen for six years.

ABC head of music and creative development Chris Scaddan spoke for many admirers and former colleagues when he said: “His influence across the ABC’s early 2000s digital work was just as pioneering as his early work in music broadcasting.

“Chris’ entire career is a testament to his never-ending, forward-thinking ideas about music, culture and media. His inquisitive mind and ability to inspire others was rare and cherished.”

Survivors include his partner Oona Nielssen and their son Otto.

A celebration of his life will be held at the Bronte Surf Club next Monday at 4 pm.