November 2022

Frank Avis by | November 7, 2022 | 2020s

I'm not sure we've learned anything momentous in the latest radio ratings with 2GB continuing to rule the roost overall and with Ben Fordham owning breakfast on 16.9. There is still the tantalising possibility of KIIS unseating GB in the early-morning slot with Kyle and Jackie O 4 points in arrears. I guess it's not impossible. One interesting feature of the new figures is SMOOTH FM's steady climb, cracking double-digits at 10.9. I think they'd be making a quid or two at SMOOTH these days.

I'm indebted to long time friend/colleague Brendan Sheedy for the following little gem which must surely now become entrenched in our industry folklore. Brendan knows the trade as well as anybody having worked forever from one side of the continent to the other as a GM/PD in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. He's the Programmer who originally discovered the duo of Barry Martin and John K Watts, convincing 6PM Management to put them on air. The result was one of the most famous partnerships in radio history. Now Brendan tells me that Wattsie wrote the lyrics to the famous "We are Geelong" club song when he was with the Cats for their 1963 premiership victory. John K of course was a star defender in the then VFL. This guy was seriously good. But I've never heard this story about writing the words for the Geelong theme song. I hasten to add not even the flamboyant Mr Watts would lay claim to writing the music. That was supplied many years earlier by one of Geelong's celebrated overseas members, a Mr George Bizet.

I don't believe the notorious Sydney conwoman Melissa Caddick is dead. There! I've finally summoned up the courage to say it in public.

Still hammering away here at the great enigma of the 2000's – the quest for "green energy". I am assailed from all sides by those who argue – just build the wind turbines and the solar panels as fast as you can and everything will be WONDERFUL. Trouble is a smaller group, mainly scientists, keep niggling at me about the stuff we're going to need to get there and the massive changes that civilisation is going to face on the journey. Already you can see stacks of countries holding up their hands and calling for a pause to reassess the end of coal and gas in the flight to renewables. European countries and China have virtually surrendered and are importing as much coal and gas as they can get. Australian coal exports have just hit record highs, amid the deepening energy crisis in Europe, further exacerbated by the possibility that Russia will mount a long-term halt to gas supplies to its Continental clients. LNG prices are going through the proverbial roof. And lurking just a few months off is the great enemy – the northern winter which will mount the ultimate test. Then as your reporter delves deeper and deeper it gets to look a bit like Dante's Inferno. Recently I'm watching a documentary about scientists searching the icy wastes of Iceland having discovered traces of Lithium and other rare elements vital in the production of batteries and other material critical to Green Energy technology. Iceland! We're going to dig under the Ice to get this stuff? I mean, how much are we prepared to destroy our environment in order to get our hands on these rare metals (lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, vanadium, cobalt, high purity alumina, manganese, zinc, uranium, etc) which we're mining in order to save the environment? Over on this side of the world the mining giants are ripping into WA's Jarrah forests, hunting for bauxite, to make aluminium, along with a range of other stuff including our new number one target... Lithium. Just mention Lithium and the phone never stops ringing. The miners argue they will fully restore the forests once they're done. So, the bulldozers will rip the heart out of forests, knocking down every 300 year old tree in sight, creating a giant clearing of nothing. Then it's just a simple matter of removing all of the topsoil and assorted leaf litter and understorey matter, and pushing it aside into a giant mountain of mulch. In come the miners, out comes the bauxite, and then we just cover it all up with the mountains of mulch and replant. Simple really... But can you just regrow a forest? How do you replace a 300-year-old tree? (The answer for those of you taking notes is WAIT 300 YEARS). There is a story I read in recent times about a team of environmentalists and veteran bushwalkers being invited to a rehabilitated Jarrah Forest in WA to test the theory of "regrowing". They walked several kilometres into the old mining site when one of the lady bushwalkers paused and listened intently. "What's wrong," they all asked. "What's the matter?" The lady stood silently there in the forest, listening... Listening. "Where are they? She responded..." Where are the birds?"

Had the wind knocked totally out of my sails recently when Aussie Golfing star Cam Smith defected to the Saudi rebel tour. We'd already lost one of my idols, "Lefty" Phil Mickelson, deciding to grab the money and run. Smith recently staged a fantastic final round to grab the coveted British Open. I still haven't watched the tape and wonder if I ever will. I have this really bad taste in my mouth at the moment: I think it's disgust. At least Cam had the decency to publically admit that he was chasing the money. It's a bit like having a couple of Middle Eastern sheiks fly into Melbourne, announcing they're signing the top 100 AFL players – at $50m each – to play in a rival footy series in 2023. "Oh and by the way," they ask, "do you mind letting our top four teams play in the AFL finals next season along with your top four?"

Sanity has prevailed at last in the AFL with the Sydney Swans extending Buddy Franklin's contract for one more historic year. There've been these continuing rumours that the Budster would have to go North of the Border to play one final year something which was really "getting on my quince" (see Australian slang) and would have amounted to footy sacrilege. Sydney loves this bloke... He's an icon. Not just the Swans but the whole Harbour city... He is a sporting superstar: far beyond the province of the AFL. We needed to ensure that he played his farewell tour in front of his adoring fans. Now every home game in 2023 will be at the SCG.

"I show favour to no man and will not even avail myself of private resources in this time of famine, but will share alike with the meanest of my colonists."
– Governor Phillip (15/10/1788)

A bit of pure Australiana in my latest edition of Flourish, published by Australian Unity. It's the story of artist-author-poet Milly Jones and how school holidays spent at her family's farm, Pikedale, near Stanthorpe, Queensland ignited her love of the country. "When I finished school," she remembers, "against my father's wishes, I worked as a Jillaroo on the property. My delight was being on a horse, mustering sheep and working in the shed. I absolutely adored the bush – its smell, its peace."

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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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