Welcome to another year of radio ravings and other stuff

Frank Avis by | April 9, 2018 | 2010s

Radio, TV, Trucks and America's right to bear arms.
2018 kicks off with Jones and Hads giving everybody else a hammering in the AM sector with GB nudging the 12% level and WS, SMOOTH AND KIIS battling it out on the FM band. There is some anxiety at KIIS with the significant decline of breakfast numbers for Kyle and Jackie and media analysts wondering whether WS can put the cleaners through the media giants over the rest of the year. I just keep telling people FM is like having a hair salon or a cafe in the Eastern Suburbs. It's very volatile. One minute they're lining up at the door, next day there's nobody there. They've all headed off to the new trendy outlet, a renovated brick kiln in Clovelly. Just one hint to the Showponies that they've missed the trend and they're outta there.

I don't watch free-to-air TV except for Channel 9's 2-hour block, 5-7 pm, featuring Eddie's "Hot Seat" and "Overs" heading the Newshour. 9 still runs the most sophisticated news in the business with their on-site reporters clearly superior to their competition. Added to that they now have a top quality Sports Presenter at the desk in Cameron Williams, the best since the beloved Gibbo. But, with apologies to 9, let me say this: I WILL NEVER WATCH "MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT"... Never... EVER. This public stance has developed after watching incessant, inane promos for the show. Month after month. I've never seen one episode of Married AFS but if it's anything like the promos it has to be utterly awful. My friends in the trade tell me that it's a ratings blockbuster... With a massive following from the female audience. Give me a little bit of time to deal with that if you don't mind? Thanks.

Oh, and I was in a doctor's waiting room last week, forced to watch a morning show on the Ten Network... I think it was "Studio Ten". Anyway, it become clear after about half an hour that I was not handling it at all well so the nursing staff intervened, took me to a quiet room next door and settled me down with some crayons and a colouring book.

A bit of insider history now people. Many years ago as ND at MIX (now re-titled KIIS I think... Sorry but I get confused these days) I hired a young Wagga Wagga journo called Deborah Knight. Her audition was super and she presented really well as a future top-line leader. Sadly, she departed after a brief time with us. I never understood why but it happens in our business. We were really moving into conversational news at the time and maybe this played a role in her decision. Anyway we lost another top presenter around the same time when Toni Anne Mathews departed. So it was a disaster really.

I didn't hear a whisper about Deborah for some time but then she bobbed up on TV... I'm pretty sure it was the Ten Network. In recent years she switched to Ch 9 and I started to sit up and take notice.

I've now seen Deb read some 20 peak hour bulletins on 9 and I just wanted to say publically that she may be the best female TV news presenter I've seen. Deborah is in total command of the studio and has "done a Hendo" on us: she doesn't just read the news, she talks to us as if we're in the same room, sitting in a chair having a chat about the state of the world. She has that elusive quality... A human delivery without losing authority. I'm hoping we run into each other one day when I'll happily tell her, face to face, that she is VERY, VERY GOOD.

I'm ready for the golf world through the rest of 2018. All the planets have aligned for golf fans. Tiger is back challenging for the big titles... "Lefty" Phil is back in winning form and we've had victories so far this season to Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson. All this and it's just a couple of days away 'til the Masters. The smell of magnolia is in the air. This is heaven!

I'm afraid it's time we had a good talk about... TRUCKS.

Because they are mobile time-bombs in our cities and on our motorways. The number of deaths directly caused by trucks is rising dramatically and in that famous Al Jolson quote "You ain't heard nothin' yet". The final figure, if we let this continue, will eventually be measured in astronomical units. We have to cut the number of trucks on our roads by 40-50% over the next 10-to-15 years. And we will have to legislate to curtail their size. I see these things driving around the suburbs... A truck with a trailer or jinker – a B-Double I think it's now called... And most of them can't make it through a roundabout without using two lanes. They can't make a turn without endangering half a dozen cars on the other side of the road. And when a truck makes a mistake out there, we're not talking about a bit of minor damage, we're talking about human carnage. Massive tragedy. Have a look at the road stats for 2017. I know there'll be an immense campaign to stop any such legislation. The trucking industry is extremely well organised and well funded. But Australia... You have to bite the bullet and restore sanity to our nation's roads. I'm in full knowledge of the economic prerogatives involved here. Clearly, there is a huge advantage in point-to-point transport and an even bigger advantage if you can double the size of the load on those trips. But the cost is already too high and the physical impact on our road system out of control. So, return cargo to the Railways and not the Highways. Get more material on our trains. And clear out the trucking tsunami from our city and suburban areas. There must be an answer: we must have enough elite planners who can re-engineer our delivery systems.

The worry with truckies and indeed the majority of "professional" drivers is their attitude. You only have to drive 20 minutes down the street to get the message from a truck driver or a tradie in his ute or van that you are "in their road". "Get out of the way," they're saying constantly. "You're holding me up... You're costing me money." "This is my road..."

The first thing you realise if you're at all observant is that all of these professional drivers want to average around 5-10m k's above the limit. If you're doing 60 in a 60-zone you are their enemy. Just look at the economics. If a truck driver can average 10 k's higher than the general traffic over a 10 hour day he's gained 100 k's on everyone else. Maybe that means an extra job... An extra profit of $300 that day. Imagine if he can do that right through the week, gaining 500 k's on the average. What's that... $1500 extra at the end of the week? That's paying off his truck or his mortgage in half the time. Or sending his kids to private school. Or taking the family overseas next holidays.

That's why you're in his way, folks. That's why he wants you to GET OFF THE ROAD!

Many years ago I recoiled in horror on learning that The Bank Of NSW was going to become Westpac. That's a bit of history going down the gurgler there let me tell you.

Recently I found a kindred spirit in a book about Australian History.

"1817: Lachlan Macquarie's attempts to stabilise the currency of New South Wales reached a vital point in 1817 when he paved the way for the establishment of the Bank of New South Wales by a group of colonial merchants. In recent years the name of the bank was changed from the Bank of New South Wales to Westpac in one of the worst cases of corporate vandalism in Australia's history."

-AUSTRALIA YEAR BY YEAR, by Michael Andrews.

Reference to my recent stunned comments about America's Right To Bear Arms. Yes, we've had yet another disaster and again it's in a School, costing the precious lives of students and teachers. President Trump's answer is so staggering that I'm embarrassed to repeat it on these pages. The solutions he says is TO ARM ALL THE TEACHERS. He said this with a perfectly straight face. Now had a leader in virtually in other place on Earth made this statement... In Australia, the UK, Europe... He would have been laughed out of office as a complete moron.

No one is laughing about it in America. And this is what those of us on the outside looking in simply can't understand. Most Americans sincerely, genuinely, definitely believe they have the right to strap on their six-shooter and walk down the street waiting for the bad guys to get off the train at High Noon. There is nothing anybody can say or do about this.

A recent Letter to the Editor wondered what would happen if gunmen started opening up inside hospitals, killing staff and patients. Go to it Donald... You've already got the answer. Hey... We'll arm the doctors and the nurses. Oh to hell with it... We'll even arm the hospital cleaners. I mean... You can never be too careful.

"Shane... Come back Shane... Shaaaaaaaane!"

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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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