Over the past 40-something years I have had a very close relationship with the ABC, especially radio. Much has changed in the media world, including savage financial cuts, but the ABC is still the most-trusted and most-dedicated media outlet in Australia. It is a marvellous organisation with extremely dedicated and talented people. I have been fortunate to work with so many brilliant people including Christopher Lawrence, Harold Hort, Alan Ashbolt, Stan Corry, Robyn Ratledge, Stephen Rapley, John Hopkins, Richard Glover, Robert Patterson, Yossi Gabay, Brendan Frost, David Mulhallan, Jack King….. and so many other names.
I made my first broadcasts on 2FC (which became Radio National) at the tender (and precocious) age of 21 when the Talks and Public Affairs Department allowed me to review books about folk music. I then ingratiated myself into the Music Department under Prof. John Hopkins who, thankfully, recognised I had something to say. Harold Hort assumed his mantle and I made several series with this legendary man. I am still on the air, usually as a Cultural Historian commenting on curious parts of our history…. I suspect I am the talking head they call when they can’t find a real expert! I am also a regular on 702 Sydney ABC, mainly through the good grace of Richard Glover, and I am also likely to pop into the studio on a Sunday when Ian ‘Macca’ Macnamara hosts his hugely popular Australia All Over.
You can listen to some of my early radio series on this site’s ‘radio programs and concerts’ section which is in the ‘enter the collection’ section. They are still terrific listening. My favourite, if I had to chose, is the series ‘The Songs That Made Australia’ as it features many of my 1970s field recordings. This was done with the blessing of my old mates Roz and Tim Bowden.
Television. As they say… I have a better face for radio but that hasn’t stopped me appearing on the box. One memorable session was when Dave de Hugard and myself were dressed and made up as old swaggies … we had to sing bush songs to a huge felt snail for a kid’s program. I also appeared on many early chat shows including Ray Martin, John Singleton, Kerry-Ann Kennelly, 7.30 Report, Simon Townsend’s Wonderworld and the That’s Australia series hosted by John Derum. In 2013 the SBS arts channel Studio scheduled the one-hour ‘Larrikin Lad’ program on my work. The DVD of this program has been released by the ABC and available from the site’s shop or by order from the ABC and other Dvd outlets.