We entered Autumn 2016 with our annual radio reunion at our favourite venue, the Pymble Hotel.
Yes folks, another success thanks to our Honorary Organiser Andrew Kilpatrick - the "Keeper of our Radio Treasures". Sadly a couple of our regulars, Holgar Brockman and Wayne Mac, couldn't make it (we missed them) but my old buddy Geoff Brown was there - contemplating a 40th anniversary celebration for the "originals" who founded 3MP in 1976 , Jose - who is like a walking encyclopaedia on a range of things, not just radio, Steve Wakely - who I need to talk to at length at a later date because this guy knows what's going on in the trade, trust me, Mike Drayson â€“ the famous "Drays", part of the city's radio furniture (been there forever), and a special new reunion guest, one of the most admired radio/TV men in the game (yes, still working behind the mike, now at 2UE), Tim Webster. I love this bloke. There was quite a bit of hugging going on there for a while as two old soldiers from MMM and 2DAY got back together again. There's another coffee appointment coming up there as well I suspect as we need more time to sit down and laugh about the old days.
I talk to Geoff and Tim and get embarrassed to admit I'm retired. These blokes have "the John Laws/Bob Rogers syndrome"... they just refuse to surrender.
Oh yes and I met the celebrated Michael Dalton who arrived sporting a 96FM cap. He has worked from one end of Australia to the other â€“ quite a lot of that time working his magic at 96 in Perth and that, when we checked his CV, I think we worked it out that he'd been to more stations than your reporter. I never thought there'd be anyone who smashed my record, but, subject to further research with Mike, I think he might have captured the title. I can only sit back and examine his record, in awe. We were awash with assorted radio people... lovely to see you all.
There was John Napier who spent his afternoon working on his interview techniques with just about everyone there. Then, right at the end of the afternoon, he produced a cassette message from an old mate who goes way, way back... Brian Newington... an acknowledged production genius in our trade.
It was the most wonderful message you've ever heard in your life and I really didn't know what to say. It was so nice of John to go to all that trouble (oh yes, and I also learned that aside from working all over the country in radio â€“ join the queue mateâ€”John also happened to have been a Cessna pilot at one stage. That definitely upstages me for starters).
Back to Brian: we go back to the days of the King, Graham Kennedy, on the old 3XY (any historians who want to really know what the game was like in the 60's need to talk to Brian and yours truly, but make sure you allow a long session... it's not going to be just the headlines). He reminded me that I voiced the hour long special he did for the Moon Landing back in the 60's. In fact I think he ended up putting it on disc for distribution in the Age newspaper. Forgot that bit of history. But listen "New" I'm coming to see you real soon old friend - you have been warned! And you're right... I DO owe you a coffee....
Now, back to my reference to "the Keeper of Radio Treasures". Andrew not only collects the sounds of radio history, he also collects the original artefacts. We had a wonderful time as I handed over a backpack full of collectables... some 3XY cuff links (marked 1420) -they'd be 49 years old I think... a denim shirt and t shirt from MIX 106.5, just after we converted from the old 2UW (for those still catching up it's now called KIIS)... two of the iconic 6PR "butterfly motif" packs distributed to advertising agencies when Rhett Walker (no longer with us ladies and gentlemen) launched his famous "Gentle on Your Mind" MOR format in the early 70's. This remains one of the revered masterpieces of radio programming... plus two original News' style guides from 2GB MACQUARIE and Melbourne's old Herald Sun 3DB.
And listen, I'm actually still searching for more. All of this is in the hands of historian Andrew who will treasure this old stuff and make sure it is safely held for the people who follow us in this peculiar trade.
Can you imagine looking at RW's butterflies in 50 years time?
Oh well, the thing is, we need another get-together sooner than 2017 when hopefully all of our regulars will be back and many others - mentioned so far are John Brennan, George Moore, Cherie Romaro, Bob Hughes and Tim Bailey - might be able to join us. Gee I hope so.
Just to complete this Saturday afternoon saga our host Andrew found out that my daughter Coralie was an expert in the field of cooking fruit mince pies. He desperately needed a sample so she kindly assembled a container of the delicacies. Well... this mob descended on them in a fashion only seen once before, when David Attenborough showed a pack of vultures in Africa dismembering the carcass of an elephant. By the time I got to go home and collect my container, there were just four left. FOUR... That's it... FOUR? I can eat them in one sitting!
The photo shows Andrew and Tim with some old person.
If memory serves me right this is the same geriatric who managed to get into our last reunion.
Security as ever has much to answer for.
The first surveys are out with Kyle and Jackie O hitting number one in brekkie on board KIIS while the 2GB unstoppable pensioner-train travels on with Alan Jones up to 16's, although Ray Hadley lost a little ground on 2015's level. ABC's 702 had an excellent start, up by around 1.5%. The big discussion point remains 2UE and 2 DAY FM which are still battling their way through the jungle, trying to hang on to 4%. The old timers I talk to spend a bit of time wondering about the one-time giant 2SM and wondering what sort of rating it would have if returned to the official surveys.
The only guide I can think of is to total all of the stations and look at what you have left.
As I recall the "left over component" has generally been around 10% in recent years, maybe a little higher at times.
So 2SM is tucked in there somewhere, along with all of the assorted community stations we have dotted around the industry these days. By the time you do the maths you're probably looking at a figure around 1.5-2%. It's ironic to look at our recent history and see how authorities moved to increase competition, releasing more AM stations in the 70's,moving to FM in the 80's and then widening the whole spectrum with a range of local, community broadcasters. Then Bang! We get these astonishing electronic advances fragmenting the audience. The kids I see nowadays hardly even listen to radio. They're on their phones or other devices downloading their own music and other preferred content. I hear my grandchildren listening to a lot of specialist programming from the US. So we go to all that trouble to give our audiences a wider AM/FM choice and technology just evolves virtually over a year or so to just overtake all of it. It's a tough gig out there in 2016 people... more stations and less audience.
Oh yes, and I need to draw your attention to a gorgeous one liner from the latest movie offering by somebody apparently called Sacha Cohen. I've never seen one of his films and almost certainly never will but I briefly viewed a trailer on TV one day which featured one of the lines of the year.
Our hero is a complete boofhead who finds his way somehow involved in an international spy operation. At one stage, as I recall, a colleague takes him into a back room where he meets several disreputable types, including a beautiful woman.
His colleague points to the lady and tells him she is in charge of the biggest criminal organisation in the world.
Our hero looks incredulously at his mate, does a couple of Cary Grant double-takes and replies: "you mean she's the head of FIFA?"
What a delicious line. Wish I'd written that one Sacha.