When he was a teenager, Napier man Dean Mardon had his heart set on making a name for himself in the radio business - but despite his energetic efforts it never happened.

Although this Thursday it just might. Mr Mardon, who owns Electric City Music, has been named as a finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Radio Awards for a tribute profile he produced for Radio Kidnappers to mark the 40th anniversary of the tragic death of Abe Phillips.

Mr Phillips, who sang with the Hawke's Bay showband The Shadracks, was on the verge of breaking into the international scene when he was killed in a car crash in December 1971.

"It was a story which needed to be told - needed to be remembered," Mr Mardon said.


"It had to happen."

The result was a 30-minute tribute documentary which has been named as one of three finalists in the Best Community Access Music Programme category, and many in the business believe it may just have the goods to take the award which will be announced on May 10.

When his tribute show went to air on December 18 the response was immediate.

"The interest in the programme was staggering, and even leading up to it people had heard about it and were ringing to ask when it was going to air."

A month after it played, Radio Kidnappers' David Teasdale called Mr Mardon and told him he had entered the programme for the awards.

"I was a bit surprised ... I didn't really think it would get into the finals."

He said he had long been intrigued by the legend of Abe Phillips, whose voice was exceptional. He was equally curious about the Shadracks, whom he had heard about as a teenager.

So last October he started asking around, with the idea in his mind to create some sort of radio programme about Abe and the band.

It was not until he was put in touch with Napier historian Dave Turnbull, who had been a close friend of Abe's, that he learned it would be 40 years, in December, since he died.

"Dave was great and we knew we had to get things moving to pay tribute on that date."

Using material be gathered from Mr Turnbull, and from England-based former Kiwi entertainer Tom Orchard, Mr Mardon spent about six weeks writing and checking the script, and wove it into the four recordings Abe Phillips had made.

"I did all the production and Dave helped cement it together."

It was essentially the culmination of a series of times he has dabbled with radio - although his early attempts to make a splash were rebuffed.

"I was in the 1977 2ZC Teenage Deejay contest and thought I'd done okay - but I didn't win."

He had also applied for broadcasting work later but his approaches effectively went unanswered.

Although through the support of Radio Kidnappers he has presented CD reviews and now has a weekly show called The Dave Dee Drive Time Show - an eclectic mix of 1970s humour, jingles and VARIOUS music.

"And now I'm a finalist in the radio awards ... maybe I'll get there after all," he said with a smile.