I remember driving along Victoria Road in Sydney one day years ago, and stopping the car so I could hear the rest of the marvellous Book Reading on the Australian Broadcasting Commission Radio National station I had accidentally turned to on the car radio. I am sure you all have similar stories. I discovered that the reading was from Patrick White’s “Voss”. I had read the book decades ago, but this audio version was a wonderful surprise: word by careful word it was thrilling and amazing. But this will never happen again. You will never again hear on ABC radio a radio drama, or a Book Reading, or a thoughtful, extended biography of a writer’s life (two evenings on Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse from the 1970s come to mind) or a whole evening facing up to a new philosophy (Existentalism, perhaps, with interviews with Sartre, who rejected his Nobel, and de Beauvoir, from the same era) if you live in Australia. Britain yes: there, local radio drama and features production is thriving, according to a producer from Birmingham I spoke to in Perth in 2011. In Australia, no.
I remember thinking when Malcolm Fraser took control of Government in this country, back in the early seventies (I was in the middle of recording a stereo radio play for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Brisbane when that happened), that the Liberals would destroy the ABC. They didn’t have to: the ABC managers did it themselves. Let enough time pass, and society changes, and the bureaucrats and the cultural bimbos* gain control, and — using silly economic arguments — destroy what made the ABC great. This is what happens when you let the Managers in: (from The Australian)