IF Steve Wisbey had told me the very first thing he did on being born was screw up his face to produce a zany look I would have believed him.
You will know that look if you have been living in the Macarthur area any time during the past 30 years.
Indeed there are so many photos of the “Wiz’’ going all zany, I was starting to wonder if it may have been a better idea to make his profile a pictorial look at the life and times of Master Steve Wisbey.
What you see in the images I have attached is a very tiny selection of Steve Wisbey being Steve Wisbey, sure, and it would even have meant a lot less work for me if I had gone all pictorial.
But the truth is that there is a lot more to Wisbey than meets the eye.
Part of the proof is that while he seems to be always clowning around to promote his various activities, I am not sure anyone has ever seen him wearing a clown suit – at work or otherwise.
In fact, his day to day wardrobe is a boring old suit, and I don’t mean that in a critical fashion sense kind of way. There’s usually a tie, albeit a colourful one, but that’s the closest he gets to being dressed as a clown while he acts the clown.
No, there’s definitely a serious side to Steve Wisbey, and it’s not just the passion to raise funds for great local charities.
As a contestant on the ABC program Strictly Speaking three years ago, Wisbey had to present one prepared and one unprepared speech.
The prepared one he titled A Man’s World, and finished thus: “You first, then your mates. And feminists you will love me that I long for gender equality, but gender equality will not be possible without men!
Wisbey was definitely serious when delivering an impromptu speech for the program:
“It’s probably a good thing, to take stock, take a deep breath and think, you know what? I’ve got air in my lungs, every day is another day. I’ve got an opportunity to live, love and share, and I’m going to do that…
“… And I’m going to do that with every fibre of my body, so, I think, grey hairs, as long as they’re real, because I’ve had them since I was about 19, I’ve been telling myself that it’s distinguished and sexy… not in a midlife crisis kind of way… is not worthwhile… take a deep breath and really enjoy your lives.’’
Young Steve Wisbey was born on August 25, 1967 in Caringbah. Shocking, I know. Like everyone else I always thought he was Camden through and through.
“My parents were renovators before anyone thought of turning over the worst house in the best street for fun and profit,’’ he recalls.
“I don’t remember the fun, they don’t have any profit left and we moved around a lot. Hence my need at 17 to say I’d had enough and demand we didn’t move anymore. That didn’t work for them but fortunately we stayed in Camden, they just moved.
“I bought my first house in Edward Street for $50,000 by the age of 20. Mum and Dad have just moved in with me (yes they are renovating ) but we won’t be moving anywhere until eternal repose now I’ve told them.’’
So it was in Camden, and Macarthur, from time to time Liverpool, and less frequently further afield, where the “Wiz’’ has been practising his zany arts in a multitude of roles.
Ask him what he does for a crust, and this is his reply:
“When I grow up I want to be a marketing consultant? I’ve been in marketing ever since I could talk so it is an evolving role,’’ Wisbey says.
“Twenty five plus years as a radio announcer, entrepreneur, marketer – it’s all marketing.’’
Whatever you say, “Wiz’’.
He is the Director of Two Rocks Marketing & Communications and for the past 12 months his main clients have been NSW Harness Racing at Tabcorp Park Menangle and Disability Macarthur family support and care.
It’s at Tabcorp Menangle where we meet, as part of my cunning plan to see Wisbey in an office for the first time since I met him back in the day, but also to check out the new facilities there which were opened less than 12 months ago.
If you haven’t been at Menangle for a while, first chance you get go and have a look. Incredible facilities, first class wherever you look, the track or the indoor dining and function rooms or the upstairs bar.
And Wisbey, dressed in suit and slightly loose tie, sitting in his big chair in front of a big work desk with lots of piles of paperwork, talking me through what he does and I am expecting him to any moment break into a zany pose.
The phone rings and he picks up, which gives me a chance to ponder the possibility that Steve Wisbey’s life has always been a bit of a battle between his fun genes and his more serious ones, the ones we all have and which drive us to survive by earning a quid or two.
So, in the blue corner you have the Wisbey zany side, and as exhibit A, Your Honour, we present a long list of evidence such as head shaves, jelly wrestling, swimming in baked beans, pie fights and much, much more.
What does the “Wiz’’ have to say for himself?
“I’ve pretty much done many more than I can remember,’’ Wisbey says.
“The most fun thing recently though was a mankini run through a resort in Vanuatu on a dare from my girlfriend Mandy. It was fun but very scary for people that had a view out their window of slightly (BMI says obese) overweight wiz pale white prancing through the palms at speed. Boy we laughed our guts out!’’
Over in the red corner we find Wisbey’s drive to do more for his community than is humanly possible. And you can’t help wondering where that drive came from, so we ask the man himself:
“When I was 16 my parents thought an experience helping others might be good for me,’’ he says.
“Maybe they knew what they were doing. I had to raise money for my airfare and accommodation and I went to Papua New Guinea and stayed for two months in the highlands working on a mission base during my Christmas school holidays.
“I went with a group of volunteers including tradies and we built house frames for accommodation, a dental surgery in the middle of a highlands jungle village and worked in the community.
“It certainly had a lasting effect on the way I viewed the world and my role in it, not as a passive bystander but as an active participant that could make a significant impact on the world around me.
“By the time I got my first radio gig I already knew the power of using my voice for others and I’ve really been very active in fundraising and community organisations from an early age.’’
Wisbey calls himself a marketing man, but that modest moniker does not do justice to the jobs he’s had over the year, does it?
“Well yes, I have had some interesting jobs, like being a plumber’s laborer for a mob at Ingleburn, that didn’t last long,’’ Wisbey says.
“Also a mobile DJ on Sydney Harbour, working for television icon Mike Walsh at 96.1 fm as the breakfast announcer, but by far the most interesting job I’ve had was a shopping centre spruiker, standing, microphone in hand, espousing the virtue of jewellery, fruit, suits, whatever the retailer had to sell! I genuinely enjoyed that and did it from about 1987 until only recently.’’
It was while pursuing a radio career the “Wiz’’ for the first and last time left Macarthur to go and live somewhere else, as he explains:
“My first radio gig at 2GO Fm 108 on the Central Coast was exciting but I couldn’t bear to leave Camden, and I just opened Cattle Dog Compact Disc, a really cool CD store in Argyle street.
“So for the first 12 months I drove to Gosford for my 7-Midnight shift every day!
“I would leave at 2pm and it could take between 2 and five hours to get to work. I woke up a couple of times on the way home just before I hit a sandstone wall on the freeway or a semi trailer and decided it would be healthier for me to relocate.
“We rented a house in Terrigal, wife and small son Julian. She lasted 6 months and went home. I followed a couple of months later and went back to work in the music shop for a while before being offered a job at 96.1 fm. I never left Macarthur for work again,’’ says Wisbey.
As we return to his office after a tour of the Menangle facilities, I ask Wisbey if it’s possible that a man like him could possibly have anything left to put in a bucket list.
“Oh, you’d be surprised,’’ he replies.
“I have travelled overseas but there’s still places I’d love to get to like China, maybe do a spot of abseiling, who knows,’’ he says.