Meet the man with the reliable voice from the 6PR news’ desk

John Nicholls

In the media world, with its smattering of healthy egos, you will never hear John Nicholls blow his own trumpet.

In his nearly three decades presenting 6PR news, John has been the steady, reliable hand flying high but always under the gossip radar. 

As an accomplished musician, John does blow a mean trombone and the Perth Modern music scholarship graduate has become handy on the drums. But all away from the spotlight.

John, 60, explains his fateful and fortunate decision to opt for journalism over his course of physics, chemistry and high maths at UWA.

John switched from UWA to WA Institute of Technology, now Curtin University, because only they offered a Bachelor of Arts, English degree with a major in journalism. 

Having cruised through Gosnells Primary School, Perth Modern, UWA and WAIT and armed with his degree, John followed media tradition to get started in the media world and headed into the country for a job.

He signed-on as a radio announcer in Narrogin, then was promoted to Bunbury in the early eighties before a fateful day when he saw a piece of paper on the radio station’s photocopier.

“I don’t know whether someone had left it there deliberately for me to find but it was an advertisement for an ABC announcer. That was a cream job and I applied,” said John from his northern suburbs home.

“In those days you had to have a degree to get into the ABC so I’m glad I had done that.”

For three years until 1986, John worked happily as ABC Perth general announcer. Wooed to 6PM, he became a familiar news voice from 1986 to 1992 before being offered his role at 6PR 27 years ago.

Along the way John married Steph, a teacher, and they have two musically-gifted daughters, Julia, 24, and Lucinda, 21. Roll out the family band?

Yes, the family grouped as a band but only for the neighbours on a Sunday afternoon, the Nicholls quartet playing on their front lawn – with neighbours keeping their social distance, of course.

To back their daughters, Steph, with experience as school musical director, played keyboard with John on drums. Julia, is a violinist (studying musicology) and Lucinda, who plays various instruments, is focussing on singing. They performed well-known favourites to rounds of applause along the street.

Life was sweet for Perth-born John, until he received a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

“It was a worrying for a day or two but then I thought that since they got it early and if they take the prostate and the cancer out, it would be alright,” he said.

After a month off work, John bounced back. Steph planned a celebration, booking an overseas jaunt, to London and Liverpool where John, a long-time Beatles fan, revelled in their guided tour of Beatles’ home territory.

“In England they never knock anything down and we were able to see the places and the plaques commemorating The Beatles. I looked up at the building where The Beatles performed Let it Be.

And in England, we also saw snow for the first time,” he said.

John says they like getaways to the south west and lately to Binningup but haven’t been big travellers.

John follows the world’s news closely “to understand what the story is and to pick-up names and pronunciations.”

He has never wavered from his lifelong radio interest.

“I love radio. I love the talk on radio and getting a story across,” the veteran said.

John paces his life, including his regular running a few times a week.

“I did a marathon two years ago but that’ll probably be my last,” he says.

But he’s continuing his marathon stint at the microphone, reassuringly breaking the news in his regular noon to 6pm slot.

Getting set for work, John pulls up his Beatles-logo socks and reveals that another endurance task is under way – reading the hefty, three-volume biography of The Beatles.