"We sort of have family and even friends now who tell us, ‘I listened to Tom the other day,’" he says. "So a lot of people here are listening in to the show and getting a kick out of it."
Tom’s entry into the radio business was a bit unexpected for the family, but they’ve learned over the years to expect surprises from him.
The oldest child of five, Tom has often had ambitious plans. He once thought he could be a Premier League goalkeeper, David says. Or there was the time when he bought roller blades with the intention of blading up and down Australia’s Eastern coast and becoming famous in the process. The family still has the roller blades, which David says are untouched.
Of course Tom’s craziest scheme in their eyes was the one in which he actually succeeded.
"He liked to think of himself as the ideas guy," David says. "We thought playing college football was crazy, but it gave him a bit more credibility and kind of shut us all up."
Tom’s father says he mostly laughs when he listens in on his son on the radio, but also sometimes cringes. David razzed Tom via text after he couldn’t remember the name of Tim Cahill, one of Australia’s best soccer players who plays in Melbourne.
There’s also the occasional interactive segment. On his first day of work, Tom talked with O’Connell about how toilets flush in opposite directions in the Southern Hemisphere. While listening live, David headed to the bathroom, unprompted, to tell Tom which way the water drained.
David has a career in banking and insurance, supporting his family of five children and helping put Tom through boarding school. He understands that Tom’s chosen profession — not unlike the NFL — is much more tenuous. He also has to succeed to make sure he can maintain a working visa and stay in the United States.
But still, after his son became the best punter in college football, David says he still has a lot of faith that Tom can make it work.
"I think the reality is it’s a tough industry," he said. "At some point, everyone gets voted off the island. But I think he and OC are off to a good start. They’re a good foil for each other, and it’s informing and entertaining. We’ll see how he can make a living out of it."