I'm leafing through the latest Sydney radio surveys and finding the trend now seems to be pretty well settled... Well, for the immediate period ahead anyway.
2GB is king of the overall stats with Alan Jones and Ray Hadley dominating their timeslots but, as always in this business, the devil is in the detail. Those GB figures are massively skewed towards the middle and old-aged category. When you look into the prized demographic of 25-40's it's KIIS, SMOOTH and WSFM battling it out for the big dollars. But the FM arena is log-jammed with a lot of volatility in the trendy market. It's a jungle out there, a bit like running a top flight restaurant in Sydney: one minute you're turning them away at the door; a week later all the tables are empty. The plight of 2UE is now clear with this one-time giant now battling to hang on to the 5% barrier. Once you slip below that level, especially under 4% you're obviously in serious financial difficulty. My old station 2DAY FM, incidentally, sagged to 3.5... Woo... But has since clawed its way back over 4.
The one thing you've got to say about the future of 2GB: Yes, it's audience is essentially in the plus-50's but so is the future demographic of Australia. We're living longer, working longer (or will be soon) and the oldies are increasingly occupying a larger chunk of the overall national demographic.
So maybe Alan and Ray are on to a good thing here. They're dominating an audience which is getting bigger every decade. 60 is the new 45. Fellers, you don't have to go out and meet your audience... They're coming back to meet you. (Incidentally, can you imagine my humiliation when I have to admit publically that I'll need to seek the advice of my trade Insider Andrew Kilpatrick to find out what SMOOTH FM is and where it came from.)
Nothing dramatic to report on the TV scene lately although 7's crime drama Winter with Rebecca Gibney was welcome. Well acted and directed with good production values.
I've been telling my family about an early Montgomery Clift movie The Search set in post-war Europe which I remember very fondly. They're interested enough to have a family screening one Saturday afternoon in the near future with the proviso from daughter-in-law Jo that you can only watch a Saturday arvo movie if you've got a good supply of choctops... Oh yes and I'll bring a few Jaffas. Maybe someone can roll 'em down the aisle. I hope they all enjoy this early Clift offering. Maybe nostalgia is affecting my judgement of this old classic? Monty of course reached his greatest heights in From Here to Eternity... And don't forget co-starring with John Wayne in Red River. By the way, a little housekeeping announcement here. When we specify choctops for our Sat movie I'm not talking about those pre-packed frozen imposters. I'm talking here about watching the ice cream come out of the machine, curling disarmingly into a cone held by a human being behind a counter who then takes the ice cream cone and dips it in real chocolate. That's what I'm talking about. I remember I was going to see a movie in the city one day and I just hungered for a choctop to kick things off. They sold me one of those mass-produced things where everything is frozen solid.
I took a bite in the foyer and couldn't get through the ice. It was like cement. So I took a bigger bite and the whole thing exploded in my face. Ice cream and chocolate covered my face and ran down my shirt and on to my coat. People looked at me with their eyes raised but I still sat through the movie.
Incidentally, I'm putting a list together of movies you may not have seen but really should consider if you get the chance.
Three Days of the Condor, 1975, with Robert Redford
David Shipman buckets the movie in his Video Guide calling it "incomprehensible and unconvincing" but I just sat back and enjoyed this CIA romp. The first 30-40 minutes are especially excellent as the killer wipes out everybody in the office except Redford who goes on the run, trying to figure out who really are the bad guys.
The Taking of Pelham 123, 1974, with Walter Matthau
Yes, David and I are on the same page here. He gives it 3 stars and you'll love Walter at his deadpan best as he searches for the gang responsible for holding a subway train and its passengers hostage. Don't miss the scene with Walter doing a tour of the central transit operations room with a group of visiting Japanese officials. He does this stuff so well.
Zulu, 1963, with Michael Caine
Loved it, especially the battle scene as a few stoic and stiff upper-lip Brits have to defend against 4,000 zulus. Mr Shipman managed to give it 1 star, not a roaring endorsement really.
Heaven Knows Mr Allison, 1957
Marine Robert Mitchum is stranded on a Pacific Island with a nun Deborah Kerr and the Japanese soldiers are closing in fast. Really nice movie, with Bob and Deborah in top form. Having John Huston as director sort of helps a lot, too. 2 stars from our video guru.
They Might be Giants, 1971, with George C. Scott
Scott is stark raving mad (a wonderful case of type casting if ever I heard one) and taken in for psychiatric care believing he is Sherlock Holmes. He is treated by a psychiatrist, Joanne Woodward, who is... Yes, come on... You guessed it... Dr Watson! We all know where it's going after that don't we? Can't find David's review... Sorry.
The Ghost Breakers, 1940, with Bob Hope
Bob ends up in a haunted castle off the coast of Cuba. Not a good move, although his companion is Paulette Goddard so there's a bit of a trade-off there. It's not Ghostbusters but it's really fun viewing. Mr Shipman gives it 3 stars which is even higher than my rating... You're starting to mellow David.
An Unfinished Life, 2005, with Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez
Ok, this is a midday movie. So when you watch it, make sure it's midday. Ok? That wasn't that hard was it? Anyway, when it gets to little girl meets grandpa she didn't know she had, wild bear is set free to wander happily out in the forest and angry old grandpa gets to like his daughter-in-law after all... Well, I love that stuff. Cast is really good, including J.Lo. Too late for our video reviewer but the site Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 68% approval rating.
King Solomon's Mines, 1950, with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr
Terrrific outdoorsy epic including the most wonderful stampede scene. The stars are good especially the native Watusi. Shipman gives it 2 stars but says it's inferior to the 1937 version. Are you kidding me?
The Big Sky, 1952, with Kirk Douglas
Our video man rates it 1 star and says it should have been shot in colour. A bit picky. I loved this trip along the Missouri River in the 1830's as Kirk leads the boys into Indian territory. Lots of adventure and one of the crew gets to fall in love with a genuine Indian Princess. Do they end up together? Huh huh... You'll have to watch it now won't you?
Laura, 1944, with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney
Tough detective falls in love with gorgeous woman. Unfortunately she's already dead and he's supposed to be solving her murder. But don't give up on the romance... All is not what it seems.
If you don't like the movie just close your eyes and listen to one of the greatest themes from Hollywood. Shipman goes for 2 stars.
Choose a winter's afternoon, grab a coffee, settle back and enjoy some oldies but goodies. You could even get in the odd choctop.
In politics, I've been following the Greek financial drama which has been threatening European Unity (oh and there's a nice turn of phrase... How often have we actually seen any European unity?)
But Greece, affectionately known as "the Somalia of Europe", has finally buckled down and agreed to actually operate to a budget. Oh that's so funny. The European spin doctors are now busy coming up with an agreement which will attempt to convince us that all of this money will eventually be paid back. Well here's a 2015 "reality check" Europe. You're never going to see those Euros again. They've gone into a black hole called Greece. There is no way Athens can pay this money back or even wants to try. These "loans" are donations. We can't of course say this publically because it'd spook the markets. Plus other European countries would start lining up and asking for some of the same. People keep saying to me, "Why didn't the other nations do something about Greece five years ago, ten years ago?" But I hasten to point out to them, the question should really be, "Why didn't GREECE ITSELF do something about its borrowing?"
Oh, and in a recent piece I think I recalled that the Indian Ocean was green. I recently saw this wonderful photo of the Ocean and Ã¢â‚¬â€œ oh dear how embarrassing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it's actually just as blue as my beloved Pacific.
Time for a bit more embarrassment. I recently discovered an Australian who won three Oscars more than 50 years ago. Orry-Kelly was the costume designer for classics such as Some Like it Hot, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and Arsenic and Old Lace (gee I love that movie). So here I am as a movie fanatic who's never even heard of this bloke. He was born in Kiama so you can't get more Aussie than that. Which got me thinking about who are our REAL Australian Oscar winners. Well, the girl with a record haul, Catherine Martin, is definitely from the heart of Downunder - born in Sydney.
But there are some serious question marks in the rest of the list.
The celebrated Peter Finch was born in London. Yes, he came out here and started his acting career but he is British born. Nicole Kidman? Born in Honolulu. Mel Gibson? Born in New York.
I get surprised to hear how Russell Crowe is Australian. Russell was born in Wellington. Unfortunately it was Wellington New Zealand, not Wellington in outback NSW. He is a Kiwi folks. Luckily for our Oscar records, Cate Blanchett was born in Melbourne. Heath Ledger hails from Perth and Geoffrey Rush is as dinky di as you can get - born in Toowoomba.
Domestic politics: just as I put this piece to bed comes word that the Coalition MP's just can't help themselves, sending in the white ants to unseat a Prime Minister. Despite all the evidence from the recent Labor turmoil, Malcolm Turnbull staged a late night coup to end the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott. For any political observer it is incredible to watch this stuff.
Julia Gillard is already one of the most reviled figures in Australian political history. Now, given the overwhelming evidence of what Australians think of this sort of hatchet-job, Malcolm and Julie join forces to do exactly the same. Have they any idea how this act will be recorded in our political history, and did either of them pause for a second and ask: how will this look overseas... What harm are we doing to our country's international image?
Finally if ever you wanted a phrase to sum up the times it is the following revelation. 48% of all defamation actions now before our legal system are a direct result of social media.
by Frank Avis | November 17, 2017
I don't think we need to take up too much of your valuable time with the latest Sydney radio ratings. Enough for you to know that 2GB is obliterating everything else in the AM band with Jones and Hadley owning the 5:30 to noon arena — and quite a few other areas to be honest. KIIS is battling it out with WS FM and SMOOTH for control of the FM sector.
by Frank Avis | September 21, 2017
So here we are at the half way mark in another ratings year and the 2GB juggernaut continues to jugger along, at no. 1 overall – around 12.6 percent. SMOOTH FM fell victim to the "commentator's curse" – yours truly should have held his tongue in his previous blog. The Smoothies lost over a full point, down to 8%. WSFM is now the big boy in the FM market, with a rating of 9.3%.
by Frank Avis | April 4, 2017
Well, not much new according to my pals in the industry across the country.