So, there she goes… Another year vanishes and you ask yourself, “Where did that go?”

Frank Avis by | January 15, 2023 | 2020s

So, there she goes... Another year vanishes and you ask yourself, "Where did that go?"

Actually, it went "UP" if you're monitoring the final radio survey for 2022. UP for the two giants of AM, Ben Fordham and Ray Hadley, who go to their Christmas/New Year break "masters of the Universe", 5:30 am to midday. GB went up around a point overall leaving KIIS in its wake. KIIS is still the number one station on the FM band and remains the main breakfast challenger for the new year. One of the major stories of the final survey for '22 was Jackie O's temporary withdrawal from Breakfast, having been battered by the deadly "long Covid". I'm still searching for something definitive on her return, but she is clearly as crook as anybody who has been hit by the virus – like Yours Truly – would fully understand. Look after yourself, Jackie O... We'll be keeping an eye on your health over the next few months as, indeed, the world will be keeping an eye on this nasty intruder in a lot of places. Covid is back, menacing much of the world including Europe, North America and China. Now China is the epicenter of this latest pandemic and everyone will be watching the outbreak in the world's most populous nation – now in peril, as it just doesn't have the health infrastructure to deal with an out-of-control threat.

We've just had another international conference on "climate change" with the best brains in the business trying to figure out how to restore balance to our battered old Planet. Yet how many delegates got down to tackling "the elephant in the room", the fundamental reason we're in this precarious position... Massive overpopulation. Humans are encroaching on everything... insatiably searching for more land, more timber, more minerals, more food and more water. We push further and further, way beyond our use-by date, unable to stop the human momentum. There are 8 billion of our species on planet Earth – 20% in just two countries, China and India. Just packing in more and more people isn't going to cut it. Back in the 1970s, historian-social commentator-Rhodes Scholar, Hugh Stretton wrote widely about housing, government and the environment. Has anyone summed it up any better?

"If New York and Chicago are any guides, it would be prudent for the rest of the world to stop overbuilding metropolitan centres which depend from hour to hour on overcomplicated physical networks and energy supplies, and from day to day on huge mileages of commuter transport. Besides their ordinary problems of anonymity and law and order, such centres positively invite military, technical and social disasters. No urban form is so vulnerable to shortages of energy, to "complexity breakdowns" or to aimless summer riots or deliberate sabotage."
- Hugh Stretton (1924-2015)

I continue to hear the same doomsday forecast from various "informed sources" around the globe. The world is about to go into meltdown, so they say, with Moscow and Beijing reaching an agreement to launch major military operations in February: Moscow to make one final assault on Ukraine while Beijing, at the same time, carries out its long-threatened attack on Taiwan. Am I falling prey to the velvet voices of the conspiracy theorists, or with Putin and Xi meeting several times in recent months, is it reasonable for me to ask the obvious question... With these two jokers meeting all of the time, what the hell are they talking about? Who'd want to be in the White House in '23?

It gives me no pleasure at all, indeed it's with great concern that I warn viewers that Channel 9 is at it again with another variation on Marriage at First Sight, coming up with a dating site for the over-55s. Yes, it'll rate its socks off I know as millions of viewers tune in each week to see if any of these geriatrics do a fetlock as they chase each other around the paddock. (Sorry, but I've always wanted to work "do a fetlock" into my blog since I heard it while listening to a Cup broadcast back in the 50s... Actually, I haven't got a clue what it means, but I love that phrase)... Is nothing too crass for TV to try? Just think though... You could be forced to watch Ten! The poor old Ten Network still can't take a trick. They spend $20m a year to buy the Melbourne Cup – this after all is the race that stops the nation – and even that fails. Thumbing through the financial press recently, I'm stunned to find out that ratings for the Cup, this month, are the lowest since rating records began twenty years ago. The Ten coverage attracted a national audience of 1.35m, which compares to a figure of 2.5m in 2002, on the 7 Network. And I think Ten's got another year to go on its contract which means they could plummet to even lower depths in 2023. Whatever happens, one thing we know, this is the only race I have a bet on every year and I never, never win. (Actually, I did win $80 on the Triple M sweep back in 1980 but technically I didn't choose that horse... it chose me.) If the backroom pencil shufflers in Ten Accounting are having trouble balancing that deal, imagine how nonplussed they are over the Network's 5-year, $200m deal for the A-League Soccer. Now the A-League occasionally draws a decent crowd but overall attendance is dismal and the TV ratings are even worse. I don't even think you'll get the A-League on 10, you'll have to go to its number 2 channel, 10 Bold. At least I need to be positive here and congratulate SBS on its decision to spend precious big bucks on the World Cup. In fairness, SBS had already ensured financial success with its advertising contracts already settled, but the Socceroos making the last 16 was a huge bonus. Indeed, 1.7m viewers turned on their televisions for our final game versus Argentina, a monumental success for the SBS Programmers.

"You cleared the mallee and sand blew over
fence and road to the slow green river;
You prayed for rain but the sky breathed dust
of long-dead farmers and soil's red rust.
You ploughed up the paddocks with a stump-jump plough
but the gates were open and the drought walked through."

- Nancy Cato (1917-2000)

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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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