Beloved ABC Perth presenter Russell Woolf dies

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Longtime ABC presenter Russell Woolf has died aged 56.

Woolf was the host of the breakfast show on ABC Radio Perth and had previously hosted the Drive show, during a career with the national broadcaster that spanned more than two decades.

He was also the weather presenter for ABC’s Western Australian TV news from 2007 to 2011.

Woolf was also a former political candidate for a seat in the Western Australian Senate.

An ABC colleague, radio presenter Geoff Hutchison, made the shocking announcement on ABC Radio Perth this morning, describing Woolf as “our beloved friend and colleague”.

“It was a huge shock for us,” said Hutchison.

“We just learned of his passing in the last few hours and it continues to flow.

“Everyone here at ABC Radio Perth is in shock and trying to figure it out.

“Russell, as you know, is a much loved and cherished part of our ABC family and we’ll be fighting for words for a little while this morning.

Russell Woolf co-hosted Breakfast with Nadia Mitsopoulos in 2020.

Woolf is survived by his wife Kylie and young daughter Bronte.

“Our hearts are truly with Russell’s wife Kylie and Bronte and we give them all the support we can,” Hutchison said.

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“Goodbye to our dear friend and colleague and you are leaving a very big hole in our hearts and our lives.”

Hutchison recalled his first day of showing in June 2006 in the studio presenting the first morning show.

“I saw this big wooden galute going up the stairs at ten to twelve, because we went at noon then, and he was carrying a single stick of Coopers lager and he brought it right into the studio and to me. Said ‘have it, you deserve it.

“And that was pretty much the first day that I met Russell Woolf in person, and it told me a lot about who he is, who he was and how we will remember him.

“Just the most beautiful, the most beautiful of friends.”

WA Premier pays homage

Describing Woolf as a “radio legend,” Washington State Premier Mark McGowan tweeted he was “deeply saddened” to learn of her death.

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Former Woolf’s breakfast show co-host Nadia Misopoulos tweeted that her heart was broken.

Listeners called to express their sadness and distress.

Shane, from Albany, said it was a devastating day.

“You just got such an affinity listening to it on the radio,” he said.

“He was such a character. I probably like him because I’m barring for East Perth and the Eagles.

“It’s going to be really hard not to wake up to Rusty on the radio.”

Others have texted to express their sadness.

“My mornings will never be the same again, thank you for bringing so much joy,” read one message.

Woolf’s sense of humor struck a chord

Known for his wonderful sense of humor and warmth, Mr. Woolf had been on the national broadcaster for most of the past 25 years and was adored by his fans.

His radio career began in Esperance and then in Kalgoorlie, before moving to the northwest of the state to become a resource journalist in 1997.

Portrait image of Russell Woolf.
ABC Radio Perth breakfast host Russell Woolf.

After a stint on ABC Radio Perth’s Afternoon show with Verity James, Russell hosted the Drive show until 2013.

He was also a weather anchor for ABC’s 7PM News from 2007-2011.

In 2015, he moved with his family to Minneapolis, leaving a position as host of the Saturday Breakfast Show on 720.

Since returning to ABC Radio Perth in 2019, he has co-hosted Breakfast and most recently presented it solo.

For many years he was also an Ambassador for Children and Youth in Western Australia, working to ensure that they have a voice and are heard in the community.

“A big teddy bear”

Professor Jonathan Carapetis of the Telethon Kids Institute described Russell as a “big, caring teddy bear” and a man who was always open to learning.

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“Like so many of your listeners, I woke up with Russell every morning,” he said.

Professor Carapetis spoke about Mr Woolf’s decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and share it with listeners.

“He recognized that he was there to entertain us (and) keep us happy, but he was also there to talk about important things and he did it so well.”

Former ABC WA news director Kim Jordan was another who shared those memories.

Mr. Wolf was the weather anchor for ABC’s Western Australian TV news from 2007 to 2011.

“Russell was incredibly funny and we figured he would do it on screen,” Mr. Jordan said.

“I said here’s a phone number for the Bureau of Meteorology and here’s a stick – you point the stick at the map.”

Mid shot of smiling Russell Woolf wearing black collared shirt.
Tributes are being paid to longtime ABC presenter Russell Woolf after his sudden death.(Provided: ABC Perth)

Mr Jordan recalled that the radio presenter was reluctant to use the baton or wear a tie on the air.

“I said you do [have to wear one] to look good for punters, but also you have an Amazon rainforest escaped from chest hair that the [viewers] should not be submitted, ”he said.

“So it went well for two nights, then he appeared without a tie… the tie was finally thrown away, the Amazon chair was allowed to come free and he had many jokes about the weather.

“He was one of the funniest guys you could meet.”


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