Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.


In early 2017 I applied to be part of the National Features and Documentary Series and was successful.

Once upon a time…

How did I get myself into this?

Pic 3_DPerry_Boys finding a voice_WEB

When I applied to be involved in the National Features and Documentary Series, my pitch boiled down to:

  • Being involved in activities like community radio draws students into the wider world and make them better people.
  • The traditional education system doesn’t tick all the boxes in educating our students.

My plan? I would take a few groups of unruly teenage caterpillars, put them on the radio and watch them morph into brilliant butterflies.

After two planning sessions where one group called each other names for over an hour and the other talked about football and girls for the entire time, I wasn’t seeing any evidence of pupation.

Don’t get me wrong; at least three of the Year 9 boys involved in this documentary are destined for big things. But my realisation from putting together this documentary is that there’s no great bursting from the chrysalis here. They’ll be caterpillars – annoying and smelly and bursting with unrealised potential – and then one day you get hit in the face with a flapping wing and realise they have an app at number one on the Apple Store.

I think it’s safe to say that I have beaten that analogy to death.

Why listen?


It’s important that the general population understands that school isn’t just Maths and English. We’re also community outreach and innovation and finding that safe space for every student to stretch out and find their place.

This documentary deals with students that don’t fit into the mainstream. They are awesome and funny and very off-centre. Their lives are ahead of them and hopefully you can see the possibilities they represent in the arguments and verbal jostling and game shows.

But mainly, listen for an exploration of some very talented students doing what they do.

Here’s the documentary. If you are involved in community radio, please send your station programming manager here so that they can play the series on your station. There are some phenomenal stories being told this year.


  • First up, Kevin Klehr, my mentor through this process, who sat me down in Sydney and helped me find the right voice for the piece.
  • Giordana, Andrew and Martin from CMTO, who have been ever attentive throughout the process, have helped me more than they can know.
  • My wife, who listened to this and said “No, that is rubbish, fix it.” (she was severely jet lagged at the time. She was also completely right).
  • Per and Oscar – Year 10 students –  played Radioactive for me a number of times, with the recording stuffing up each time. They played Beautiful for me a couple of times, which I ended up cutting from the documentary. They signed off over and over again, until I was happy with their performances.
  • Ben, Conleth, Joel, Tristan and Ross (who has since left the country) were fantastic. Very entertaining and a lot of fun to work with.
  • Southern FM 88.3 (Sounds of the Bayside) have been providing the schools in the area with a voice since 2012. Sir Peter Kemp, Pauline O’Brien and Karl Bianco have been fantastic.
  • St James College have been ever supportive.
  • Connor Johnston saved this documentary. I’m waiting to see his first Doctor Who TV script filmed.
  • And Rami is destined to run Southern FM by the end of the year. Stay tuned.

But wait! There’s more!

There is a lot of audio from radio shows past and present in this documentary. If you want to hear the full episodes (go on, admit it, you’re hooked), subscribe to our feed:

Or our podcast website.

St James presents as part of the Schools program on Southern FM 88.3 from 7-9 Thursdays and Fridays during the school term. Tune in:



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