The new year started with one of the most astonishing moments of my life

Frank Avis by | March 21, 2024 | 2020s

The new year started with one of the most astonishing moments of my life when Your Reporter was awarded an OAM, an Order of Australia Medal, for services to the broadcasting industry. I said all of the things I know you would have said like, "But I haven't invented a cure for cancer", and, "I haven't spent 50 years of my life looking after homeless kids," but to no avail. The Governor-General signed off on the award anyway and I found myself in exotic company. How do I process this? I think I say this honour is for me, for all the radio stations I worked at and all the people I worked with on the way.

I've received dozens of comments from industry colleagues, some of them very funny, but this afternoon on a rainy day in Sydney I'm looking out of the window at the wet leaves realising that I won't be hearing from quite a few mates from years gone-by because they're no longer with us. So I'm thinking about them today.

A sad moment for us as we venture off on another year, with the passing of the popular Sydney radio identity, John Costello. His family has confirmed that John fell victim to COVID recently at the age of 79. I worked with "Cossie" for years at the old 2UW/MIX 106.5 as he kept the city up to date on the traffic scene morning and afternoon. He was later organising traffic updates for just about every radio outlet in the city. A former policeman, Costello knew every nook and cranny across the metropolitan area... He was on top of every traffic snarl, wherever it was. I remember and pay tribute to "the King of Sydney Traffic", John Costello.

The AM monolith, 2GB, emerged from its summer of hibernation in top form, cementing itself as Sydney's overall leader in survey 1, 2024, and regaining the critical breakfast title from KIIS FM. Ben Fordham headed Kyle and Jackie O by just over a point to continue one of the great radio battles of recent years. Jackie O by the way, according to the weekend press, is undergoing a fashion restyling, with Fashionista Guru, Jess Pecoraro, converting the Radio star into the new look – "sexy and sassy". Let's see how that impacts survey 2. The other interesting side-stories from the first survey of the year are SMOOTH FM sneaking up to number two overall, replacing KIIS as the top FM-er, and an old warrior 2UE which has had to abandon News-Talk for music, improving 2.1% to 5.6 – it's best showing in the last eight years. Ok, a lot of the extra listeners are 65+ but hey, listeners are listeners. Just for the record, 2UE has just gone up above several outlets, including ABC, 2MMM and 2DAY.

Oh, I'm having another one of those days where my brain keeps returning to "the Golden Age" and for some reason and it keeps saying Tony Withers. If you're looking for a giant from the 50s try Tony on 2SM playing the big pop hits of the day. Or, what about a headline for another superstar Allan Toohey on 2UW, the man who apparently invented the old hit parade by polling the record stores in the city every week to find out the top singles everyone was buying. I'm recalling another big timer from those days in John Hudson, who started off at 2GZ, Orange just after the war and went on to several stations in the Big Smoke, including 2CH and 2UE, but my main memory is Hudson doing brekkie on 2GB. He was a really big name you've probably hardly heard of these days. And, for no reason whatsoever, another top performer on 2GB from the 50s – Eric Parrant. Where did that come from? Does any veteran recall Eric, probably doing mornings I would think, on GB?

The latest edition of the historical magazine, Founders, published by the Fellowship of First Fleeters, carries an amazing tale. I have never heard this story before. It's about the First Fleet vessel, the Alexander, a 452-ton barque which helped bring the original European settlers to Australia. She was later pressed into service to carry troops to South America as part of a mission to invade the Spanish Colonies. On the way home in 1806, the Alexander's Captain had to abandon ship in the middle of a massive gale. Twenty-three peope, including a woman and a child, managed to make it into a long boat and were eventually rescued. They survived on rain water and by eating the remains of a soldier who'd died during the earlier disaster. Cannibalism... An astonishing postscript to the story of the 1788 First Fleet.

I don't understand why the Federal Government and political commentators have to remind the big supermarkets why it's so appalling to be lifting grocery and fruit and veg prices so dramatically during this cost of living crisis. Can't these companies, who are making billions and billions of dollars, figure this out themselves? Why aren't we seeing these corporations emailing their shareholders, telling them that dividends will be slightly down over the next year or so, with the money going back to the shopper... Cutting prices to make it easier for families to put food on the table? Furthermore that this policy will continue 'til inflation is back under control. I know I'm just a naive silly billy. Everyone knows supermarket prices have gone berserk in this period. And not just the prices. Remember that health bar that cost a dollar two years back? Well it still costs a dollar but the size has been cut back by 25%. Then there's the "sliced cheese test". Our sliced cheese used to be nice and thick, perfect for your sandwich. Now you can hold the slice up to the light and actually SEE RIGHT THROUGH IT!

Recently reminded of a beloved saying from the 40s and 50s (probably way earlier)... " Oh, my giddy Aunt".

I can confirm that we're into a different era as we start our journey into 2024. I've been watching a new commercial campaign on TV lately where they're advertising probiotics... For DOGS!

Adam Lindasy Gordon monument.jpg


This is one of the most famous monuments in our Colonial outback folklore... Gordon's Leap of 1864. It celebrates the feat of Adam Lindsay Gordon, one of the greatest horsemen of the era who rode his beloved mount "Red Lancer" over a fence and on to a narrow ledge adjoining Mt Gambier's Blue Lake. You can still visit the site and pay tribute to the British-Australian daredevil, a man of many skills including poetry. He is remembered as one of the treasured bush poets who captured Australian life in the nineteenth century. Gordon became a myth-like figure of the times and his poetry lives on today.

"Question not but live and labour 'til yon goal be won, helping every feeble neighbour, seeking help from none"... "Life is mostly froth and bubble. Two things stand like stone: kindness in another's trouble, courage in your own"... "In a thousand years we shall all forget the things that trouble us now".

Sadly, Gordon's life ended tragically in 1870. Facing financial ruin, he turned a gun on himself at Victoria's Brighton Beach, aged just 36.

Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870)

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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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