Are we watching the death of a Sydney radio giant?

Frank Avis by | December 2, 2019 | 2010s

Are we watching the death of a Sydney radio giant with the announcement that the experiment with Macquarie Sports on the old 2UE is over?
Are we watching the death of a Sydney radio giant with the announcement that the experiment with Macquarie Sports on the old 2UE is over? The owners have pulled the plug but what does that mean? Will the Programmers simply use the signal to rebroadcast product from somewhere else – say 3AW – or are they just turning off the transmitter and euthanising one of the original superstations? In the end I had to call in my undercover contact – affectionately code-named "Deep Throat" – to get the latest scuttlebutt in the industry. We met in a dimly-lit car park in the early hours and his response was astonishing. 2UE apparently could be taken over by the Chinese who would set it up to broadcast Chinese programmes. After all, as my contact argues, if the Greeks can buy out 3XY then why not China and 2UE? I'm trying to imagine Mark Collier, Greg Grainger and Vincent Smith working in Mandarin.

Sadly the latest survey hardly bolsters 2UE's argument for survival with the wounded "old soldier" not even managing 1%, while the superpower 2GB continues to dominate the overalls, ahead of Smooth and KIIS.

I’m indebted to veteran Graeme Turpie for a bit of delightful memorabilia from our days at 3BO back in the 50s, a programme showing "yours truly" playing for a Bendigo 18 in an Aussie rules clash against the best from 3SR, Shepparton. I actually remember this pretty well because the opening match was in Bendigo and we played a re-match in Shepparton. I was reasonably buoyant about the game because I'd played at a reasonable level back in Sydney, representing NSW in the U-19's against the VICs at historic Trumper Park. Everyone was at the game, including my father-in law who played top grade footy in earlier days in the local district. So I thought I might do a bit of showing off in the opening game, forgetting that I hadn't actually kicked a footy in anger for 5 years. I got on to a punt in the opening quarter, did a groin and limped pathetically through the rest of the game. IronicaIly, I had a belter in the second clash in Shepparton but no one was there to see it.

Charity football match

I got a bit excited recently when the Morrison Government announced a big deal, essentially with NSW, to start building more dams. However, on further inspection this doesn't appear to be connected with the aggressive plan to bring water in from the monsoonal north. From what I can see, the programme aims at putting a second dam in areas which are suffering massive droughts. The idea is that when it does rain again the locals will have two dams, full of water, rather than one. But what if it doesn’t rain again? Or what if it doesn’t rain for another 25 years? I've got to tell you when it comes to surviving in the harshest continent on Earth I'd be sticking to the most obvious piece of logic I’ve heard on this contentious issue... GO CHASE THE WATER... DON'T EXPECT IT TO COME CHASING YOU.

I can’t believe what I'm seeing in US politics as the Democrats are now pressing on with their policy of trying to impeach President Trump over – well – anything really... Ukraine, Russian interference chasing after anything with a skirt... You name it, the Democrats will grab whatever you’ve got.

Impeaching the President is not an election policy. Take all that anger and all those resources and channel them into the coming Primaries and Presidential election. All you are doing is reinforcing the general belief in the electorate that politicians are only interested in themselves. I can't believe the Democrats have fallen for this negative "let’s bury the President" routine when they should be throwing everything they've got convincing the voters that they have the answers for 2020. I see now even Hillary Clinton is talking publically about standing again. What sort of message does that send out to voters about their current candidates?

I was lucky to be living in Sydney during the 50s as the city produced an astonishing artistic burst following WW2. Suddenly Australia aspired to have its own "artistic identity". You could drop into the Mars Coffee Bar in the city and meet leading painters, actors and writers – sipping their coffee and hacking into a trendy pizza (which was to die for). Our Little Theatre was suddenly on fire, with revues like "Around the Loop" and "A Cuppa tea, a Bex and a Good Lie down" playing to packed houses at the Phillip Street Theatre. People everywhere were pushing the envelope. I remember having coffee with a fellow actor in the City one afternoon when he announced that a family friend was going to drop in and give him a document for his father. This quiet and kindly gentleman came in, passed on the paperwork to my mate, shook hands and headed off. It was only in later years when I saw a photo in the paper that I realised I'm pretty sure I was in the presence of one of our great painters, Arthur Boyd. I didn’t have a clue. That’s how it was in those days... You could meet anyone on a street in Sydney. Anyway, the leader of this artistic pack was an iconic figure of the day, poet Harry Hooton. No one had a soiree in the 50s without Harry. So it is only fitting that I include a couple of lines from the master, courtesy an extremely rare copy of the magazine "21st Century".

"Oh manity of manity to manity.
All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet man is so dull."

(Oh Manity Of Manity. Harry Hooton. "21st Century". No.2)

Published by the 21st Century Art Group. Sydney. August 1957.

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Bill Lee

by Bill Lee | December 2, 2019

Keep up the great work Frank ! Nice to know what the rest of Oz is doing.
Cheers from Tasmania.


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This is the history of radio newsman Frank Avis who worked in the Australian electronic media from 1954 to 1996.


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