Frank Avis loses contact with modern radio

Frank Avis by | October 20, 2015 | 2010s Politics

Sincere thanks to radio wiz Andrew Kilpatrick for taking the time to explain to me what Smooth FM is and where it came from. Apparently it used to be Vega but has now opted to be Smooth. I had to control my immediate reaction which was to ask Andrew what Vega was and where IT came from. Didn't pursue that line of enquiry: I hate to hear a grown man cry on the other end of the phone.
Sincere thanks to radio wiz Andrew Kilpatrick for taking the time to explain to me what Smooth FM is and where it came from. Apparently it used to be Vega but has now opted to be Smooth. I had to control my immediate reaction which was to ask Andrew what Vega was and where IT came from. Didn't pursue that line of enquiry: I hate to hear a grown man cry on the other end of the phone.

It's getting really torturous in the radio business. I've got a feeling that it might have started when I joined the old 2UW back in the late 80's-early 90's. Manager John Williams converted the place to FM a few years later and renamed us MIX 106.5. Now I've gone and John's gone and it's become KIIS FM. People are returning to Sydney after a 4-week holiday, tuning into their car radio and expressing immediate concerns that their pilot touched down in a completely different country. People say to me that in order to understand the modern industry I have to get on to the same platform as the marketing/programming gurus of 2015. My problem isn't the platform. I'm at the wrong station.

Incidentally when you do find the right station there's no point getting money out to buy your Pensioner Excursion Ticket. Everybody has to have an Opal Card. I went to use my Opal device recently and mistakenly tried to get through the turnstiles with my Blacktown Library card.

From what I hear the whole Opal network went down for 8 hours.

I'm also extremely keen to destroy any lingering connections I have with old mates in the media business by asking: why do we need SBS? Can you tell me? I mean surely we don't need the news from Southern Mongolia, followed by the latest from Taiwan, Chile, Andorra, Cuba and so on? Anyone who is really interested in updates from these far flung places will surely find all they need on any one of their electronic devices. I appreciate that SBS does produce and re-play some excellent documentaries... I mean anybody who came up with that gloriously insane social farce HOUSOS deserves to be very honourably mentioned... but can't we just put SBS on a spare ABC channel or two? We can trim all of the pencil shufflers at the top and middle tier of the bureaucracy and cut the news completely. I know you're going to hate me for this but seriously there is so much diverse material from one side of the world to the other that is freely available these days.

I've had a few extra weeks now to digest one of the darkest chapters in our short political history... the political assassination of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The plotters finalised their plans while the PM was overseas and then struck when least suspected. The conventional wisdom was clear, that no one would make such a traumatic move a week before a vital by-election, at Canning. I mean why would any LNP supporter put this key WA seat at further risk? Ah, but our conspirators were way ahead of the rest of us. They chose to strike because of that very reason, that no one was expecting an attack. This is Australian politics answer to Pearl Harbour. Malcolm Turnbull, hereafter known as Iago, and Julie "Lucrezia" Bishop took cunning and deception to a new height... er sorry depth. As we speak, hundreds of Liberals are resigning from the party, unable to believe this has happened. Iago attended a party meeting this week and people fell out of their chairs laughing when he spoke about unity. On the other hand, the latest polls show LNP voters believe Turnbull has a better chance of winning the next election than Abbott. Don't you just love politics? As the beloved Lennie said in Law and Order... "go figure?"

When Turnbull took over we all waited on his first words, explaining why he had moved to replace a Prime Minister. Surely, we thought Abbott must have done something absolutely horrendous to deserve this... something that the party simply had to address. Then Iago made his pronouncement... it was the opinion polls. They were really bad. He had to step in for the party's sake. Here was the rescuer, moving to save his party from internal collapse. (Anyone seeking further collaboration should go to their copy of Julia Gillard's speech after she shafted Kevin 07.) This is the same Iago who when asked at a doorstop a year or so back confidently told reporters that he paid no attention to opinion polls. They went up, he said, they went down... there is only one poll that counts. There was no change in fundamental policy... no dramatic departure from the Abbott programme, really. Just the odd peripheral change here and there. Iago grabbed power for one reason... HE WANTED THE POWER.

The Abbott thing has had me bemused for months and months. As I said earlier on there was this bizarre, orchestrated anti-Abbott campaign, championed by at least one major newspaper and one major, national radio/tv network.

But it was vitriolic. When Abbott's Stop the Boats campaign actually worked in a couple of weeks there were reporters who were virtually frothing at the mouth in very public anger.

I just couldn't and haven't been able to discover what this was all about.

Increasingly I ran into people... perfectly well educated, decent citizens... who laughingly derided the Prime Minister. People told me he was a "boofhead", a "goose", an international embarrassment.

When we discussed his economic programme they would collapse to the floor, unable to restrain their laughter and make various suggestions that Tony Abbott "wouldn't know the economy if he ran into it". I thought to myself... "I've missed something here"... so I returned to my Abbott biography.

Yep... no one had changed the PM's background. He was still a graduate of Sydney Uni with a double degree in Law and Economics and no one had withdrawn his BA, as a Rhodes Scholar, at Oxford with majors in Philosophy and Economics. I would have thought that stints at Australia's oldest Uni and at the world's oldest English speaking University would have meant that Tony must have picked up something... Nope, not good enough mate. Stick to your surfing. Forget those economics tutorials. (By the way, forget the regular University Ratings which show strange things like Melbourne Uni or the ANU being preferred as Australia's leading academic address. Trust me folks... it's SYDNEY. All of Asia... the Pacific and beyond. They desperately want to go to SYDNEY Uni. You stand in the middle of an Asian city and announce that you've got a double degree from Sydney Uni up for grabs and you'll be trampled to death in the rush. 30 seconds... that's all I'm giving you.)

But back to poor old Tony. What did he do while in office? Exactly what he said he'd do. He sealed our borders and stopped the gangs selling space on floating coffins coming out of Asia. He ended the carbon tax and the mining tax. And he addressed the economy with Trade Minister Andrew Robb signing Free Trade deals with Japan, South Korea and China (although the unions are desperate to contain the agreement with the Chinese, a debate which continues). As I write this Australia is finalising the Pacific Free Trade agreement – massive deal – and Andrew Robb is working on a Trade deal with India. Will Iago claim this as part of his programme?

I remain where I was when I started writing this... "bemused".

Paul Kelly, writing in the Weekend Australian, advised Abbott supporters to "get on with it" and put their backing behind the new PM. But he understood how many of them felt "after years of sneering at the poll-driven, media-grovelling superficiality of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor years, the Liberals have descended into the same sandpit."

And while I'm on a roll, losing friends, allow me to indulge myself even further. If Europe wants to save its civilisation—which cannot survive dealing with over a million immigrants in a year - please ring Tony and Scott and get them to stop the boats. 80% of these people are economic migrants, paying criminal gangs to get them into Europe, where they can head for countries with strong welfare policies. If you want to know how to stop this calamitous exodus from the Middle East and Africa, just intercept the boat people and deal with them at their point of embarkation. Set up temporary protective areas for the genuine refugees, escaping from war zones, until they can be resettled in their country of origin. Do whatever it takes to feed, house and protect these people. Believe me, this will be much much cheaper and socially advantageous than the alternative. For the others, organise their safe return to their original countries where the citizens can establish a society which they don't want to leave. That is what you're supposed to do in a country... govern it properly for the good of all. There you go... how's that for political in-correctness?

Oh and back to radio... yes it's a bit shambolic here at the Media Centre... I have these memories of Brian Henderson doing Sunday afternoon radio, was it 2SM, which he shared with another well known jock back in the 50's. Can anyone remember this... where Hendo and the other announcer did the afternoon DJ shift, alternating every half hour? If so can you tell me what station and who the other guy was? I'd love to have that confirmed. Thanks.

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About me

This is the history of radio newsman Frank Avis who worked in the Australian electronic media from 1954 to 1996.

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