2023 is rambling on

Frank Avis by | June 12, 2023 | 2020s

2023 is rambling on... I'm indebted yet again to radio veteran/industry analyst, Brendan Sheedy, who draws my attention to another major watershed in the business... the final nail-in-the-coffin for AM radio? He's sent me a copy of The Washington Post which announces the end of AM radio. Several of the major car makers in the US, including BMW, VW, Mazda, and Tesla, will be eliminating AM radios from all future electric models. Indeed, Ford is apparently deleting AM from all its coming models, electric and petrol. The Washington Post claims AM is "on the verge of collapse... A victim of swiftly shifting consumer tastes". How many new car buyers will opt to put another radio into the dashboard to pick up their favourite AM-er? What will happen to the AM domain in the US... News-talk-sport? Will they convert to FM or settle for streaming their product?

Well, back here in Sydney our number 1 AM offering, 2GB, seems to be keeping its head above water although KIIS FM is clearly the new radio superstar, regaining its number1 post overall, and with Kyle and Jackie O keeping GB at bay in the critical Brekkie arena. Overall, KIIS is less than a point ahead of Ben Fordham, Ray Hadley, and the team on news-talk but the FM leader has continued its strong progress in Breakfast nearly three points clear of GB.

Kyle and Jackie O

Totally gobsmacked this week by the shock peace deal between the PGA tour and LIV Golf, ending the great golf schism. Hard to see exactly how this will finally settle but it's difficult to make any judgment other than the PGA Tour has surrendered, run over by a tsunami of Saudi dollars. I saw former Aussie PGA player Paul Gow on TV and he said, "It's just the money... Overwhelming money." Golf superstar Rory McIlroy just shrugged his shoulders and basically said, "What can you do? There's so much money there and I guess the PGA may as well get some of it." He seemed to be totally stunned. I don't know where this will finally settle but today I'm asking the same question golfers everywhere are asking: has the PGA Tour just been bought by Saudi Arabia?

A key thrust of the war in Ukraine at the moment is the famous Chinese peace plan – "The peace plan you have when you don't have a peace plan" – which President Xi took to Moscow in recent times. This is wonderful PR for the Chinese Communist Party who see their beloved leader as a sort of elderly uncle sitting down, bringing a naughty nephew, Vladimir Putin, back into line. The meeting has no downside for Beijing: China looks good whatever happens, the international peace broker, called in to save the world from imminent disaster. Not sure what Russia gets out of it, but then do they really care what the rest of the world thinks anyway? This whole thing, however, is delightfully complex. I've been reading international commentator Robert Gottliebsen in recent days and he's having a wonderful time unpicking Beijing's political knitting. What we're looking at here is Xi's great master plan, for China to build one of the most monumental transport links in history... A fast rail System from the Pacific, right across China and Europe linking up with the Atlantic. This apparently is Xi's secret agenda, because the great Chinese rail line is going nowhere while Russia is invading Ukraine. A quick victory, as originally envisaged by Putin, would have been fine but not this interminable death and destruction. The key issue is that the ideal route for a super fast journey requires travel through both Russia and Ukraine, hence the Chinese drive to get a peace deal negotiated asap. And Gottliebsen sees another piece of subtle diplomacy going on with Beijing's hope to start the rail journey from its ancient port village of Hai Shen Wai, right on the border with Russia. Now, you'll be flat out finding that name on any modern map because it was erased by the Russkies 160 years ago during the opium wars. We all know the city better these days as Vladivostok, the name the Russians gave it in 1860. Don't you love all of this under-the-counter clandestine stuff? One of the things Uncle Xi has been talking about with Putin in Moscow is whether Russia would agree to change the name back to the original Chinese name or, at the very least, let the station share the two names up there on the platform. And you thought it was just a simple peace deal!

Darleen and I were driving in the Norwest Business Park area recently, surrounded by massive office blocks and shopping centres. We were approaching a large roundabout, carrying heavy traffic, when we noticed a businessman leaving the footpath on our right and starting to walk across the roundabout. He was texting on the phone and walked straight out into two lanes of traffic without a glance in any direction. Darleen hit the brakes as did several drivers coming from the other direction. We sat there astonished as he continued to text, walking through four lanes of traffic and finally across to the footpath on the other side... He had no idea where he was and that he could have died on at least three occasions had we all continued driving. I watched him disappear into an office block, head still down totally immersed in his phone. The mobile phone truly is the new God of civilisation.

I remember a while back I was sitting in a cafe surrounded by half a dozen women at some social function They were all flat out on their mobiles. No one was actually talking to anybody at the table. Innocently I mentioned that there was a time when humans didn't have mobile phones and life seemed to move on reasonably well as I recall. The assembled women rolled their eyes and promptly dismissed me as a complete idiot.

On Sunday I made a trip around the harbour, and saw the exquisite forms and colours of the land and I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life... The small yachts danced like a shoal of fish. It was a scene that has yet to be painted. There is something elusive and mysterious in this land, some soul that I cannot find, some spirit I have never seen, something I can only feel.

Sir Edgar Mackennal (1863-1931)

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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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