Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Talkback questions

Talkback 2. A radio program in which members of the public participate by telephone. (Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd ed., emphasis mine)
My favourite occasional talkback caller to 7ZR, Hugh, rang in this week (1/3/05) to remind me why talkback radio on the ABC hasn’t been the same since Tim Cox went on leave. Ironically, Hugh is the only caller I’ve ever heard rattle Coxie, during one of his regular calls to criticise various aspects of the ABC – on that day, the ABC’s alleged promotion of private businesses was in Hugh’s sights, leading Coxie to first bluster and then philosophise on the issue … proving Hugh’s point somewhat I thought at the time.

Anyway, Hugh rang to have a whinge about the way the current ABC compere treats the public when they call talkback. In particular, he alleged that the compere favours those who ring in as paid apparatchiks for the woodchipping industry, whilst hurrying along and generally being quite harsh on the general public who ring in.

I guess Hugh was listening the day before (28/2), when the compere was somewhat inconsistent in the treatment of callers, especially the first two for the day:

(9:10am, 28/2/05) Compere: Let’s get to some calls. In Richmond, Wally, good morning Wally. Wally: Good morning Louise, how are you this morning?

C: I’m well, sun’s shining, all’s right with the world.

W: Yes, we could do with a drop of rain again.

C: I know, it’s true.

W: Look, I, er, Mr Gordon’s {of the Pulp Mill Task Force} not in the
studio now is he?

C: No, he’s coming in at 10:30am.

W: Now look, I’ve listened to most of the debate on the pulp mill and I couldn’t understand what Christine Milne was on about, er, the chlorine as if it was a toxic poison that you know that it would kill you. I worked on a dairy farm and it’s used to wash up, er, it’s used to put in your water to wash, to flush your milking machine out. It’s used in flushing out the lines in hotels, the beer lines, you have it in your swimming pool and now you know we’ve got someone coming along and saying you know, it’s a bad poison, it’s toxic and all this sort of thing but that’s, that’s, I don’t think that’s right and I think that’s something that wants clearing up. Now the bus, the bus, um …

C: Chlorine gas though is something that is quite poisonous I think. Chlorine gas was something used as the basis for bombs and when you work with chlorine you are usually advised not to use it in a closed space. So,
potentially, if used wrongly and in certain ways, it is a dangerous chemical.

W: Yes, yes, there is a gas that comes off it when you’re using it you know, I’ve used heaps of it so I’m clearly qualified to say that, but I can assure you it’s never affected me in any way. The, the bus situation, I, you know, I reckon it’s one of the greatest things you know that’s ever been with any huge development like this because it’s going to give people the chance to have an insight and be able to go into that bus and you know get the information that they require, you know. I watched the ad that was on TV last night and we’ve got three of the most experienced people in the world here now and advising on the construction and development of this project. For Peg Putt to say you know, what a waste of a huge amount of money, $30,000, we’re not talking about a huge amount of money. I read the late Jim Bacon spent twice that much to give her a car to go around and keep people out of work, so you know I think that’s a very poor argument. So you know, like Christine Milne stopped it ten years ago and put this country back, put this state back 10 years and I just hope that, you know, everyone, we’ve got a poll saying that 80-odd per cent of people want this mill and you know I don’t think whatever she does now, or Bob Brown neither, they won’t stop it going ahead. Things like the roads, that’s the thing that I’m interested in, what’s going to happen you know with the development up there with the roads, because with the influx you know, we’re going to have a lot of trucks so obviously we need a lot of revamping of our tracks in that area.

C: I’m sure it will be addressed and we will get some answers on that. Thanks for your call Wally.

W: Good, thank you. Compere: Thank you. On the same subject, Jim from Lutana. (9:14am) Jim: Aaaah, greetings Louise.

C: Greetings.

J: Yes, I’ve got real concerns about this pulp mill, because when this starts and start it will there’ll be no turning back. It will change Tasmania forever. I think it’s more, er, it relates, er, it should not relate to just John Gay and Hidding and Lennon and Chipman and them. If this thing happens to produce the potential nuisance that it could and apparently there is the potential there, nobody could really say, this could tarnish Tasmania’s image all over. For the few jobs that could be there in the north, it may well impact on the rest of the state and, I, I think, er, that, er Lennon and them, they’ve got these forest destroyers I call them into a frenzy of redneck mindset, they wouldn’t care if they were just going to bleach this stuff in pure dioxin, they’re going to have it at any cost and down the track, you see, this fibreboard thing they’ve just rescued, I’ve read dozens of reports where that industry has been out of control and Georgetown has been covered in fibre and that from accidental plant disruptions. This thing’s going to be so big it’ll not only threaten the future of the forests, they’ll never really catch up with it. I know that we’ve had problems with Bell Bay haven’t we with, I think fluourosis was the term, emissions there into the cattle. Nothing ever seems to change, it doesn’t matter how bad these sort of things happen, we just go on, we say that’s the way its going to be and you’re going to cop it…

C: … thanks Jim

J: Alright.

C: An interesting point perhaps, raised by Jim, is the question of balancing tourism with industrial development, with, with major infrastructure development. If an economy starts to rely too heavily on tourism, the criticism is often made that you need to concentrate on solid technology, you need to get into industry. Is it therefore the right thing to start to balance out the income we get from tourism and what we also need to do in terms of solid economic development.

So the ABC promised Wally that “we will get some answers on (his issue)” while Jim’s call was completely misrepresented, after he was cut off what’s more. There is not a single mention of tourism or balancing it with development during Jim’s call. Not one. The compere appears to have summarised some other opinion or call, but only after cutting Jim off so he couldn’t correct her. I know she pulled Wal up on the “chlorine is not poisonous” idiocy, but her decision to allow the nasty and unnecessary stuff at the end of his call was not too good either, especially when viewed in context with the treatment of the next caller. Unfortunately, the misinterpretation has been going on for a while:

“I’m getting a bit sick of ABC radio compere Louise Saunders adding her (often incorrect) view of talkback callers’ issues and/or opinions after she cuts them off. If she doesn’t know the full facts then she should make her assertions while the caller is still on the line, so they can correct her, as they so often do when allowed.” Jason, 20/1/05, ABC936 website: http://www2b.abc.net.au/guestbookcentral/list.asp?guestbookID=48

Former compere Tim Cox was a ringmaster able to generate partisan comment while remaining reasonably neutral and most importantly, a man able to cut listeners off nicely and still keep the flow moving.

Since Tim went on holidays my urge to switch the radio to 7ZR at 9am has declined markedly. Talkback resembles a desert these days, with long political interviews and regular music dominating the phone calls from ordinary people. The decision to limit the many “regular” callers to a single 2 minute call per week in this dry environment is also quite strange – given the paucity of real people calling in at the moment, shouldn’t 7ZR be encouraging everyone to ring more often and talk for longer?

Anyway, I hope Coxie’s enjoying his “holidays” (house husbandry is actually hard work).

Jason Lovell is an acerbic social and political commentator.

All About Louise

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Barrabas

    March 10, 2005 at 8:34 am

    Praise the Lord!

    Did anyone hear Louise Saunders’ interview with American evangelist Franklin Graham (son of Billy) this morning on ABC radio? Or should I say FG’s sermon to Louise and the “people of Hobart”. Graham was on the front foot from the outset, delivering the Gospel of salvation literally verse by verse with authority and passion.

    Hell, he damn near saved my sinful ass!

    Seriously though, I was a little dissapointed Louise (bless her) didn’t ask questions like, “Do you believe that the George Bush led liberation of Iraq was in fact the will of god (as god votes Republican) as it has now given you the opportunity to also liberate the spirits of the unsaved people of Iraq from Islam and a potential date with the lake of fire!”

    But hey those sorts of questions may well of put Louise’s soul (not to mention the ABC’s) at risk, if it isn’t already. I wonder if Franky will be hooking up with Fred and Mare’s while he’s in the sinful state?

  2. Nudger

    March 8, 2005 at 10:30 am

    Just wanted to advise proper e-mail address. I was a bit previous with the first one. Can’t believe there’s more than one Nudger Jones in the world, but apparently there is. So I’m nudger “Under score” Jones. Never under scored in me life.

  3. nudger jones

    March 7, 2005 at 8:22 am

    I reckon Jason Lovell is Tim Cox … or Tim Cox is Jason Lovell. And that acerbic has a new entry in the Macquarie Dictionary

    3. Acerbic: adj, brown-nosing.

  4. rickpilkington

    March 5, 2005 at 7:32 am

    The monarchist Pamela, in full flight, is simply awesome.

    Who else could get away with the sort of verbal violence that she does. On her day she is the most ardent and fearless caller on the airwaves. She reminds of Ethel Chop from JJJ.

    Who was Ethel anyway?

  5. Jason Lovell

    March 4, 2005 at 5:41 am

    Thanks for that Geoff – I must also say that I agree Louise Saunders sounds like a lovely person. I’m not too comfortable criticising her either and also believe the crux of the problem is the strength of Tim Cox in the role.

    But jeez Geoff, lay off Barbara, Basil and Tom will ya? Personally, I think Barbara is hilarious with her regular conspiracy theories sourced from the Internet, the confused criticism of the Glenorchy Council and her related requests to “read something on air”. Basil is simply awesome – the public fights between he and George Brookes have been very entertaining while Basil’s institutional memory is good enough to reveal all sorts of previously unknown affiliations. In many ways Basil still is a “big gun,” he just hasn’t fired one off in anger for a while; Coxie once cut Basil off with alacrity after he started discussing an alleged exchange of brown paper bags in a darkened Council chambers – great stuff.

    And Tom? Well, unlike many other callers Tom obviously prepares himself and then reads from the prepared script. So at the very least he is understandable. I do think that it’s all too easy to accuse him of being a whinger – he believes in certain things and he is brave enough to publicly raise and defend them. Anyone who disagrees with him should simply ring in and debate the point(s) he’s raised. It’s not an easy prospect because, as I indicated, I think he’s prepared for those who feel he has little evidence to support his claims.

    All in all, I find all the regulars quite entertaining in their own little ways. Except Pat that is.

    Yours eternally,
    Rabid Pack Jason

  6. Brenda Rosser

    March 3, 2005 at 2:10 pm

    I’ve always wondered why I get rushed off ABC Talkback whenever I phone to alert the public about the pesticide drift and contamination problem in Tassie. I mean, given the leisurely chats that happen with other callers who phone weekly and talk about trivia.

    The last time I rang in, however, the female commentator said that the ABC would contact DPIWE and ask the Department why they were ignoring the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines risk assessment in relation to spray drift.

    Despite having phoned the ABC several times to get DPIWE’s response the ABC came up with nought.

    The question remains unanswered to this day. But to make matters worse the APVMA are now failing to get back to me regarding my request for them to model the extent of spray drift after an incident not far from our residence. How far did Alpha-Cypermethrin drift when it was aerially applied by helicopter 60 – 100 feet above the ground (and on top of a hill) over a period of approximately 2 hours in December last year?

    Anyone care to ring David Loschke at the APVMA and get the results of the modelling he said he would do?

  7. editor

    March 3, 2005 at 4:51 am

    Reply to J Lovell

    I feel bad for saying it, as the compere in question seems like a lovely person, but Jason Lovell is absolutely correct in his observations regarding ABC Talkback between 9am and 10am on weekdays.

    As a regular listener, I too have freqently heard the compere run off on her own tangent when aiming to summarise the thoughts of a caller once they are off the air.

    To be fair, Tim Cox is an extremely hard act to follow and I very much miss his humour, control and suitability to the role. However he certainly has the knack of being able to elicit from a caller the main points of the call and wrap up the conversation before it becomes a regurgitation of the same ideas over and over.

    I think part of the problem is that the current compere is too easy on callers and allows them ramble for too long before finally stepping in. I acknowledge that cutting people off and determining where to end each call must be very difficult.

    I heard the same call that Jason referred to from the listener complaining about the compere and the ABC and that call was a good example of the problem. When the compere tried to wrap up the conversation which was starting to go around in circles, the caller replied “I’m still talking” in a very haughty tone and continued his rant. This type of behaviour needs to be halted immediately as control of the program is otherwise lost to certain participants.

    As Jason comments, the pool of regular callers is sadly lacking and unfortunately the listening public is subjected to the uninformed, repetitive and boring thoughts of the same unoccupied lady in Chigwell, the ex-councillor in Launceston who still thinks he’s a big gun, the incessant whining (literally) of a male Sandy Bay resident who thinks the world is over-populated and many many others.

    Generally speaking, these callers have little evidence to support their claims and due to this, repeat ad nauseum their claims on a continous loop until the compere manages to shut them up. Tim Cox has a firmer hand and does this better.

    7NT talkback (the same as Jason’s 7ZR and 936 Hobart) is no longer a permanent fixture on my radio between 9am and 10am as some days I just cannot cope with the same uninformed fools day in and day out.

    And has anyone else noticed what I call the ‘Three Thankyou Policy’ of the compere? At the end of almost every call, the three thankyous happen like clockwork.

    Geoff Rollins

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