Rabs Saved My Life

By Dale ‘Tex’ Walker

SO the curtains have finally closed on one of, if not Australia’s finest ever broadcasters, in Ray Warren after 55 years behind the binoculars.

I interviewed Ray two years ago for Nepean News and he was nervous and unsure of when to make his retirement announcement. He did so last week at 78 years of age with 99 State of Origins under his belt.

Personally, I have known Ray (Rabs) since I was 18 years of age, a wannabe racecaller, lurking around the hallways of 2KY at Parramatta and urging him to give me a go. 

Fast forward ten years to the early 2000’s and my career had taken off quite well, working full-time at 2KY, previously as an Announcer and Racecaller before hosting my own sports talkback show, The Big Sports Overnight, and on the odd occasion filling in on The Big Sports Breakfast.

I was in my late 20’s, egotistical, confident and not frightened of confrontation. I spoke up too much, I was a bit of a smart arse and created attention my way. I have learnt from this, a real lot. If I had my time over I would have listened, learnt and understood situations instead of looking through my eyes only. I look back and although things were going well, I am quite embarrassed and ashamed of some of the things I did. 

Eventually I was moved on, Redundant they said, and as Rabs would say, “In the fair dinkum department” I had it coming. 

The years that ensued were some of the toughest I’ve ever experienced.

A couple of days after I was shown the door, I called Ray looking for some guidance.

I remember it vividly, it was a Tuesday night, I was highly depressed and was contemplating taking my own life. 

Ray, or anybody for that matter, doesn’t know this but I was ready to leave this world.

Upon answering my call, Ray was sitting in his bathtub, relaxing with a vino and winding down from a full day at work.

I was a shattered man and Ray could hear it in my voice. But it wasn’t long before I started to feel more calm.

“It’s a dog eat dog world,” Ray told me.

“I’ve been exactly where you are Dale, it’s a crap feeling, but you have talent, you will be back. You didn’t get where you were because you are hopeless, just fine tune it a little, do the right thing, be confident, be polite and willing.

 “You do have to be lucky, I was so lucky to get where I am today.” 

This phone call took place in 2001 so the following 21 years for Ray have been incredible. 

“Things just don’t fall in your lap,” Ray told me.

“Now is the toughest part, but you’re a good kid, stay determined, and promise yourself that you are going to prove people wrong. But keep a level head in doing it.”

At the end of the day I was out of my much beloved media for over four years, I worked on the wharves at White Bay, driving cars off the ships to pay the bills. It was a good job, they’d give you say 8 hours to finish the shift and if you had it done in four hours, you could go home. It wasn’t where I wanted to be career wise and I kept having Ray’s voice ringing in my head…..’stay determined, prove people wrong’ – those words still sit with me today, but I’m NOT so much of a smart arse, I’m polite and understand situations from both sides.

My fellow peers in the broadcast game are a lot like myself, in absolute awe and have drawn inspiration from Rabs in his illustrious career.

I’m proud to say that aside from my wonderful parents, there’s a little bit of Ray Warren in me wherever I go. Not necessarily talent wise but with my attitude and willingness. And for that Ray, I can’t thank you enough and salute you!