"This week up to 17 staff will leave the building, one of the top teams in the world dedicated to science communication, with not a farewell, a handshake or a stale biscuit – like felons out onto the street," Williams wrote in an email to fellow staff.
So wrote Robin Williams, presenter of ABC Radio National's Science Show. I think the cancelling of Catalyst with the loss of a number of experienced ABC science journalists is appalling. The show is to be replaced by a number of one hour science specials over 2017. Yawn. My boredom threshold likes bite sized Catalyst style reporting. I hardly think one hour science shows will have much appeal. Young people have an even lower boredom threshold than I do, so if our ABC is trying to attract younger audiences, then I am not sure that is the right way to go about it.
The standard cry is, 'The ABC needs to attract younger audiences'. I have been hearing this this since I became a viewer of and listener of our ABC back in about 1980. At times our ABC does attract younger people with specific shows or even radio stations like Triple J. I would guess many of the audience of Rage will go on to be people of influence in society. But when people get to a certain age, they often gravitate to our ABC. That is its prime audience and ABC management would do well to remember that.
Closer to my heart is ABC Radio. 774 ABC Melbourne is to be rebranded as ABC Melbourne, or something like that, as are all local radio stations. Who cares. I already say ABC Melbourne if I refer to the radio station. There does not seem to be changes aside from that to ABC local radio. Good, although I have increasingly turned off local radio because of the amount of music played and focus on music. Our local station has a musician as a presenter in the afternoon, so I just switch off. The 'Drive' presenter has advertised his Tracks of Your Life ad nauseum, and while I don't mind him as a presenter, again too much music.
So, I do not like music on my local radio talk station. It is boring. And that brings me to Radio National. I haven't listened to it for years. It has music but that is to be done away with. Good. It is better known as a talk documentary station. When I say I haven't listened to RN for years, I am a voracious consumer of RN podcasts. Health Report. Law Report. Download This Show. Rear Vision. Science Show, selectively. I say that because the podcast is conveniently broken into individual segments, so you download what interests you. There are so many more podcasts I would like to listen to, but I am time restricted.
While ABC staff have protested against the changes, ABC presenter Emma Alberici says change is necessary for our ABC to be more relevant. Do I see a future Liberal Party politician in the making?
What you think about in the early hours of the morning can be really weird. This morning at 5:35 Lobby Gore, aka Elle McFeast, came on the radio, replacing former Skyhooks band member and now ABC Melbourne morning radio presenter Red Symons while he is on holiday. I will miss Red during his absence. I like the way he presents. He is somewhat unprofessional and in a minor way he reminds me of ABC Melbourne's breakfast presenter, back then known as 3LO, of Peter Evans. It is a massive compliment to Red Symons, because while he is far better broadcaster than Peter Evans ever was, I am not sure that there will be a book written called Symonds The Wireless as there was Evans The Wireless, and nor will there be cassette tape compilation of Red Symonds moments on radio.
I think we were travelling to Bendigo in about 1981 when we first tuned in 3LO and heard Peter Evans, or didn't hear him as was the case, because at some point he did not say anything for many seconds. He came back with, sorry, I had to get my cup of tea, and then went on to complain about the ants in his Doncaster unit. These days with such a pause in voice, auto signal breakdown music would kick in.
Red Symons has his producer come on to chat at about 6:45 and she is known as Harriet Hashtag, so called because she is well versed in Twitter, especially with news from Scandinavia. Peter Evans used to have his producer come in for a chat too, Jeanie James. I suppose she would be dead now too. I think I met her once at a Friends of the ABC protest meeting at Dallas Brookes Hall in the anti fund cutting to the ABC rally under PM Fraser. Some things never change. But she was never given her own microphone and talked off mike through Peter's , so she could not be properly heard. Microphones must have been expensive back then. As I said, the things you think about and remember at 5:30 in the morning. Photo of Red in the old Skyhooks days.
I can't recall the years now, but at an early point Evans broadcast breakfast radio for the whole of the east coast of Australia before becoming more local to Victoria and other local radio presenters were employed and given facilities.
I love our ABC and we have been together for a long time. At my age there is not too much I am passionate about, not like with the passion of youthful ideals, but I would go out onto the streets if Our ABC is under direct threat. Time will tell, but I didn't think much of the appointment of Michelle Guthrie as managing director, and it does seem like she is going to shake things up but not necessarily in a good way.
To note, The Fossil as we call her, Caroline Jones is retiring from ABC. In the early days of Australian Story, she used to have a soft focus lens on the camera. It was just so silly and so obvious, like the soft focus on Marlene Dietrich in Just a Gigolo. Fifty years in various roles at our ABC deserves a congratulations to the always perfectly groomed, very smooth and thoroughly competent Caroline.
While nothing too much new is happening in Melbourne for local radio, it is good to see some openly gay presenters being given roles at our ABC. R was not amused when I told him. Why do they need to tell everyone one? No sweetheart, they are not. They just live an open life and probably don't wear being gay on their sleeve, but nor do they hide it. Kind of like us really, hon.
Josh Zepps (sic), now ABC Sydney radio evening summer presenter, son of the terrific actor Henry Szeps.
ABC TV Canberra evening news presenter in the new year is gay and part Aboriginal. Again, he won't open the news reading with, Good evening, I'm Dan Bouchier, I am gay and part Aboriginal. Google him and you can find out both, but I doubt you will otherwise know, and it is hardly relevant to his news reading ability.
Other good new radio talent is Sammy Shah. While he does have a Pakistani accent, his English and diction are excellent and he is funny, quick witted and knows about stuffs. I hope to hear more of him on our ABC. Sammy is not guilty by association. He is married and with children. So much diverse talent at our ABC, yet still Macca drones and bumbles on and on every Sunday morning.
Lastly, about 25, maybe 30 years ago, I would occasionally tune in to 3RRR, a subscription radio broadcaster here in Melbourne. It could be quite challenging to the status quo at times, and hence at times controversial. 3RRR has turned 40 and this appeared outside our state library. I have just noticed, it is the oldest independent radio broadcaster in Australia. Long may 3RRR last and gotta love those old radio cassette players. Don't tell me you breached copyright and recorded from the radio to a cassette tape?