Yes, we've made it to another Radio Reunion. This time an assembly of RATS - Radio and TV Survivors. I'm lucky to be one of the survivors but trust me, there are many others who didn't manage to get safely over the raging river. Sad to hear that we've lost a few on the way. Thanks to Jose who organised our latest meeting which turned out to be pretty emotional really. A lot of my regular mates were there but it was unexpected to meet up once again with several others. A delight to catch up with a "mover and shaker" in the industry for so many years in Les Thompson. Boy, there were a few stories flying there folks. Then it was "old 2 DAY FM week" with the arrival or Rowan Cameron, one of our favourite people from the newsroom of the 80's and just after that getting to hug Tim Webster and our Number one PD Cherie Romaro. This truly was what reunions are supposed to be about.
Just so you get to soak up the atmosphere please find the attached pic of a Sea of Legends.
On the right is the celebrated Tim Webster, next to the doyen of PD's Cherie Romaro, then your Correspondent and on the far left Andrew Kilpatrick, host of our regular Pymble Gettogethers.
Let's have a look at a couple of old timers in the latest Sydney radio survey. 2CH has just sneaked up over the magical 4% level while UE has continued its mammoth battle settling back at 3.5. I had a long talk to veteran Programmer Geoff Brown at the North Sydney survivors lunch and it's his view - and mine - that nobody can make a living under 3% even if they trim their operating costs to the bare minimum. It's also generally believed that a city station should be able to trade in the black if it can sneak up over 4%, albeit with strong cost cutting. We're keeping a close watch on these famous old stations to see how they traverse the radio market over the next year or so.
And I've been in political heaven recently. First there was the pulsating Brexit vote and now, lately, the astonishing win by Donald Trump to capture the US presidency.
And the two votes are virtually identical. British voters opted to depart Europe sick-and-tired of unrestricted immigration and shattered at the loss of 100's of 100's of blue collar jobs to cheap labour overseas. Americans did much the same, protesting over the number of people crossing their border to make a home in the USA illegally and screaming out for someone to listen to their cries of complaint as blue collar jobs disappeared, falling victim to cheap labour overseas. As the jobs disappeared so did their local communities. Whole cities have been destroyed in the last 20 years of globalism. The protesters don't have Harvard or Cambridge Degrees in Finance or IT. These are workers who just have to roll up their sleeves and do a hard day's physical slog to house and feed their families. No one listened to them. They hate professional politicians and you can imagine their reaction when Donald Trump pointed towards Washington and told Americans, "it was time to drain the swamp."
Hillary Clinton was virtually unelectable: the trouble is most of us thought Trump was even more unelectable. We were wrong and so were the polls but let's be realistic... The polls were only slightly out. Most pollsters will tell you they live with a 3% error rate. What happened in the USA is that Donald Trump used up every bit of that 3%.
But essentially the polls were pretty close to the mark.
They said Hillary would win more votes that Trump and she did, just managing to capture the overall national vote. They said she'd carry women, blacks and Hispanics and she did. And they predicted she'd be victorious in the cities and indeed she was.
But Trump slaughtered the Democrats in the suburbs and rural sectors. Hillary's well oiled machine just couldn't get enough people out to counter the onslaught of disaffected whites - both male and female. It transpires I think that a lot of white women voted Trump but didn't want to admit to it publicly to the people doing the polls.
This was particularly so in several one-time Democratic heartlands which opted for Trump in "the Rust Belt revolt". We knew things were changing when Trump took Florida but it was his victory in several key states further north, late in the count, which took him to the White House.
The Wall Street Journal tells me that the US Presidency was, in the end, decided by about 110,000 votes spread over three states. So before we start dumping heavily on the pollsters let us admit that was an extraordinarily close affair - still astonishing I know - but amazingly close.
One thing I will say about all those predictions is how the media or large parts of it really had no idea what was going on out there. Increasingly we see the media, especially the newspapers, gathering in large cities and losing contact with the real world. And increasingly we see these organisations interpreting events from a "special interest" point of view. This is even more obvious in academic institutions which end up producing a lot of these journalists who gravitate to the big city papers. Journalists are no longer evaluating events: they are reporting them from a particular social vantage point.
Journos are a bit like police. Detectives can't solve a case until they get all the evidence. For many journalists in 2016 they have made the arrest before they arrive at the scene of the crime... They're not interested in the evidence especially if it doesn't tally with their social beliefs. This is obvious in many of the world's democracies and particularly clear when you look at Australian media.
What can Trump do now to heal the nation and show himself as a President for ALL of America?
Well, I'd be asking John Kerry to stay on as Secretary of State through 2017. He's a Democrat and this would be a shock decision but what better way to demonstrate Donald Trump's political and social purpose. Kerry, extremely well known and respected internationally, would be the ideal middle man to ease the Trump administration through the first 12-18 months. (But trust me... Something that sensible is just not going to happen.)
And I'd be setting up a special "blue collar cabinet" that would answer to the main Cabinet on the key Trump promise to get more jobs into the beleagued blue collar sector. This special cabinet would target half a dozen depressed industrial areas from day-one and work with local Government, Unions and Washington to re-establish these once prosperous work sites. If Trump can finish 2018 with several examples of turning around these battered centres - re-establishing communities, reopening schools, getting families to move back into the area, having people back working and paying their taxes again - he will have gone a long way towards meeting his promise of "Making America Great Again".
One other aside before you're bored to death. What was it with Hillary, in the last two months of the campaign, with all those pant suits?. Her minders probably theorised it'd make her look more commanding, decisive. But I thought it made her look more and more like a bloke. Sorry!
I think it became increasingly noticeable when First Lady Michelle joined her on stage, which happened pretty regularly at the end. Mrs Obama looked very feminine and just as commanding. Hillary Clinton looked for all the world as if she were heading off for a meeting of the Chinese Communist Secretariat. I really thought her public presentation in the last month or two was slightly odd.
I can't help myself. God, I love this stuff.
And a bit more comment on another Great Avis Obsession... "the perceptions of a Mass Audience".
How does it happen that groups of diverse people in diverse areas come up with a common, shared "feeling", a perception. I remember years ago when we were watching the end of the great period of domination by the Melbourne Radio Giant, 3UZ. Everyone knew it was over but 3UZ stayed up there high in the ratings. We kept waiting for UZ to go but it took a year for the ratings to catch up with reality. Same at PR in Perth in the 70's. Everybody knew PR was up there with the big boys, but it took nearly 6 months for that to be confirmed. Can you imagine what it's like at Ch 7 in 2017?
Out on the street the perception remains that 9 is the King and that 7 is playing catch up.
I don't know what it is... 9 looks and behaves as if it is the King. It has gravitas.
But what has 7 got to do to change this audience perception? It's just lost millions covering the Rio Olympics (well I assume it must have... I mean surely they're not going to MAKE money out of that are they?). It hosts the AFL Grand Final, the Australian Tennis Open, the Australian Open Golf and in recent times the race that stops the nation, The Melbourne Cup. What's a station got to do to win the grass roots?
Has any other movie historian noticed that Bob Hope sang two Oscar winning songs in his career - and he wasn't even a singer? He was a comedian. How did that happen?
Bob sang the 1938 Academy Award winner "Thanks for the Memory" from the Big Broadcast of 1938 and then did it again in 1947 with "Buttons and Bows" from The Paleface.
Actually, he could have made it a triple-whammy with his Xmas Classic "Silver Bells" from The Lemon Drop Kid in 1951. Ah she's a funny business is Show Business!
Ah well, enough from this raving lunatic. Let me leave you with the following piece of advice handed to me regularly by one of my industry buddies. "KEEP ON ROCKIN', DUDE..."