Father Gerard Dowling OAM DE celebrates 50 years on radio!

By: James MacLeod
Thursday, September 7, 2023

On Sunday 3rd September 2023, Fr Gerard Dowling OAM DE celebrated a wonderful milestone of 50 years on Sunday evenings on the radio.


It was in 1973 that Fr Gerard first hosted his first radio spot on a Sunday evening with a show that is now called The Family Counsellor on a station that was known at the time as 3UZ. The Family Counsellor is the longest-running show on a Sunday evening in Australia.   Fr Gerard has hosted the show across 3 radio stations, 3UZ, 3DB and now you can hear him every Sunday night between 10pm and midnight on RSN 927 am.

Fr Gerard is a tremendous writer, radio host, qualified counsellor and has been a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 65 years. In late August he celebrated his 91st birthday.


Fr Gerard’s program was the first of its kind in Australia, I am yet to find an equivalent on commercial radio. Over the journey, he has helped countless people with the show being largely about interviews and taking live calls.  The show was in place years before other essential services such as Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Beyond Blue etc. One night live on air a gentleman advised that he was on his way to the Westgate Bridge and he had stopped at a telephone box to call Fr Gerard to attempt suicide. Fr Gerard threw to his producer, left the studios, and drove to the Westgate Bridge and the man’s life was saved.   Fr Gerard is a qualified counsellor and in particular, has taken a strong interest in the area of loss and grief.  In the seventies and eighties, he undertook major studies in loss and grief. You will find that this forms a major part of his show with many people ringing each week who have experienced the loss of a loved one in recent times or it is their anniversary.


When people call in Fr Gerard lets them speak. There is no timeframe on calls like there is on other commercial talkback stations and as one of my friends said to me, every night I go to sleep with the radio on. It is funny you can go to sleep listening to a caller talking to Fr Gerard and wake up some 10-15 minutes later and he is still talking to the same caller. On the program you will never find Fr Gerard judging, he is a tremendous listener. He provides a great deal of comfort to so many people who tune into the show each and every Sunday evening.

Some 12 years ago, Fr Gerard approached us at Tobin Brothers, advising that the management of RSN said to him if he didn’t find a sponsor the show would finish the following Sunday. Tobin Brothers immediately advised Fr Gerard and RSN 927 that we would support the program as long as Fr Gerard was doing it. We have been part of the great celebrations of Fr Gerard’s 40 years in radio, and last Sunday I joined him in the studio to celebrate his 50 years.

In recent weeks a morning tea was held at Parliament House which included guests of Parliament, radio royalty, North Melbourne Football Club royalty – where Fr Gerard has been the Club’s historian for many decades, together with his family and friends.


Congratulations Fr Gerard on 50 years on radio, providing so much comfort to so many right across Victoria, southern NSW and Tasmania where the program is broadcast.


Congratulations from all of us at Tobin Brothers Funerals.


- James MacLeod

Managing Director, Tobin Brothers Funerals



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