From Russia with love

He’s had to come a long way to find it, but Con Novitski’s happy place is the Yass Valley and behind the microphone at Yassfm.

Con’s parents emigrated from Russia to Manchuria, China where he was born. He was about 13 when his family became refugees and headed to Australia. He said it took about five years to get all the paperwork approved by the Chinese government.

His parents, and four siblings, arrived on Februrary 9, 1957.

“It’s a day the whole family still celebrates, every year without fail,” he said.

“We all get together, it means a great deal to a lot of us.”

His family lived in Sydney to start with and came with no English speaking skills. But he said they were smart and learnt quickly.

“I remember going to school in Australia and really struggling in the first year but, by the second year I was second in my class”.

After he graduated Con began a career in radio, working behind the scenes doing production work for the ABC.

In 1968, he was sent on a short term job to Canberra and as he puts it he “forgot to return”.

“They were happy to keep me down in Canberra and I really liked it.”

In 1971, though, Con left the ABC and entered the public service doing clerical work.

Three years later Con met his wife Fran and they moved to Yass.

“We moved here because it was central in those days. We still did lots of travelling to Sydney to see our family and we have loved it here ever since.”

He said over the time he has been here, a lot has changed in the region.

“There have been positives and negatives about it all. One thing I don’t like is that I no longer know everyone. I really liked it when it was like that.”

Due to Con’s love of radio, he was a keen participant at the inaugural Yassfm board meeting. Now, Con is one of just two people who have presented shows non-stop ever since.

“I spent a lot of time behind the scenes but I really like being behind the microphone these days.”

Con said while it is volunteer work, he tries to be as professional as possible and he prides himself on his work ethic.

“Doesn’t matter if you’re in a bad mood, or if you really don’t want to go in for some reason, you need to go present a show for your listeners.”

While he loves a good range of music, if he had to choose a favourite, it would be world music.

“Listening to songs sung in different languages is something I love. Even though you don’t understand it you still learn a lot about the artist and the language.”

Con, who can speak Russian and Ukranian, hopes Yassfm can really bring that multi-cultural theme back into some of its shows.

“It’s a shame that some of that is gone, I’d really like it to come back.”

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