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Welcome to my humble website. On this site, you'll read and hear the random thoughts of an Australian conservative and talk radio broadcaster. This page will be updated regularly with opinions and dissections of the news of the day.

Monday
Oct272014

Brenno: The life and times of a media godfather

I recently caught up with Australian radio legend, John Brennan to chat about his new book, Brenno: The life and times of a media godfather.

 listen to ‘Brenno: The life and times of a media godfather’ on audioBoom

 

Monday
May122014

Taking the puff out of the game

On a day when we mourn the passing of a true legend of Rugby League, the Immortal Reg Gasnier, once again we see modern day players trashing the legacy created by the likes of Puff The Magic Dragon as Gasnier was so affectionately known.

Incumbent NSW Halfback and Roosters pivot Mitchell Pearce has been involved in an altercation in a night club leading to his arrest and you’ve got to ask what is it going to take before these clowns wake up to themselves? The arguments that they’re just normal blokes, or they live in a fishbowl, or players weren’t subjected to such scrutiny in years gone by, quite frankly just don’t cut it.

There has to be an enforced realisation that when a player signs a contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars then there is an expectation and a duty of care much higher than we mere mortals, and that expectation must be enforced by the clubs and the Australian Rugby League Commission.

At some point, a line has to be drawn in the sand and players are going to need to be made an example of. We need to start stamping players’ contracts never to play again. A multi-million dollar career in football is a privilege, not a right.

We’re even hearing talks that Blake Ferguson is preparing for a return to the game after his numerous indiscretions. This bloke’s had more chances than a feature on a poker machine and it also ties in to the announcement that David Smith, the head of the NRL will now have unprecedented power and a slush fund to lure players from other codes or prevent so-called big stars from leaving.

We are sending these players a message that they are more important than the game! By allowing Pearce to get away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist or by letting Ferguson take to the field again or by telling Benji Marshall or Israel Folau or Karmichael Hunt that they’re not subject to the salary cap, we’re sending a message that they’re something more than they are, which is overpaid show ponies who are above the very people who afford them their status – the fans and in Mitchell Pearce’s case, maybe long suffering Blues fans can get a halfback that’s up to the task of winning a State of Origin series for NSW

Friday
Mar082013

The Upper Hunter is being taken for granted

Enough is enough. It’s time the O’Farrell Government started to take the needs of Upper Hunter residents seriously and stopped taking us for granted. In 2011-12, the mining industry contributed $1.486 billion to the State’s coffers, the bulk of which comes from Muswellbrook and Singleton Local Government areas, yet all we are promised is a share in $160 million dollars through the Resources for Regions program.

The fact that we’ve only received a share in $10 million since the March 2011 State election is startling enough, but when we look at the sleight of hand approach to delivering that money, we can’t help but be astounded. Resources for Regions was supposed to fund much needed local infrastructure in mining-affected areas however Muswellbrook has seen its paltry share spent on State infrastructure.

There’s no secret that Muswellbrook Hospital is in dire need of an upgrade that will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $60 million. NSW Health says this. Hunter New England Health says it. In fact, NSW Health says it should be a priority in the health budget. An even higher priority is the upgrade of the hospital’s ailing emergency department which we’re told will cost around $12 million. Yet only $4 million has been allocated and not from the health budget, but from Resources for Regions which should be spent on local roads and facilities.

This brings us to the real travesty – the lack of aged care facilities. Muswellbrook hospital is home to 18 high-dependency, aged care beds, all of which occupy space on the hospital’s ground floor where the new emergency department is slated to be built. Our local member George Souris has promised that no resident requiring aged care will be relocated outside the local government area, yet no concrete plans for a promised new aged care facility are in place. We’re told that current aged care patients will be accommodated somewhere within the hospital, but what about the ever increasing requirements of an ageing population?

It’s time this Government stopped treating what they think is a “safe seat” as a cash cow. Sooner or later the cow needs to be fed.

Saturday
Feb162013

LOSING MY RELIGION

For me, radio is religion.  It’s the good word and I’m a believer.  But like any religion, sometimes even the most devout followers can experience a crisis of faith.  Mine came towards the end of last year when I seriously considered leaving the industry.  Ex-communicating myself, if you will.  Regional radio dogma was getting me down.  The holy grail of capital city radio felt forever out of reach.  I was in limbo.   But somehow, I found my faith again.

I remember my first paid radio shift like it was yesterday: the clunky and unfamiliar panel; the strange play-out system; the sounds of the Pacific Highway rumbling through what was supposed to be my sound-proof studio.   I’d scored a job at a local radio station in a pretty coastal town after leaving my high flying, high paying job as an auctioneer.  This was it. No turning back. I was packing it.

What if my AFTRS training wasn’t all it was cracked up to be? What if I’m not cut out for this? Can I do this?  I had so many questions but I had to keep the faith.  I slid the fader up and started talking.  I was converted.  Hallejuah!  From that moment, I have savoured every second of my time on air.  My big life gamble paid off. The old saying that if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life was true. I fact, I hadn’t hit the snooze button since I began working in radio – that is until a few months ago.

The genesis of my crisis of faith is a little cloudy but probably began when I made the move to a new station.  My career started at 2HC Coffs Harbour, a Super Radio Network Station.  I was the new afternoon announcer and management wasn’t expecting miracles.  I was sharing the airwaves with my long time idol, John Laws! I put my head down and worked hard.  Someone upstairs must have been listening.  Within a few months I’d won the Best Newcomer On-Air ACRA.  Metro stations started to take notice. Suddenly, I felt like I was walking on water.  I set myself a goal of landing a Sydney gig within five years all the while accepting that if it took longer than that it wouldn’t be a problem because I loved what I was doing.

That’s when things started to unravel. I’d committed the same sin as my contemporaries and started to lose the joy in what I was doing.  I was looking too far ahead and began let things over which I had no control – those things that happen outside the sanctuary of the studio - bother me. I stopped focusing on making great radio where I was and rather lamented that others weren’t making great radio elsewhere. The realisation came one Friday when I had a particularly bad shift but wasn’t angry with myself for doing it. We all have less than stellar days, but what has always driven me is how bad I feel when I don’t get it right. I up until that point had always woken up with the intention of creating the best radio show I possibly can and go to bed with the intention of doing it better tomorrow.

Luckily, I’ve got a great support network. I have a mentor who has guided the careers of some of the greats and some friends in the industry who were thankfully prepared to “slap me out of it” as it were. But the real awakening came thanks to the job itself and the people we all depend on in this crazy business – the listeners. There were instances even in the darkest times, those that potentially could’ve resulted in permanent dead-air, that began to reignite my passion. I have had the opportunity to do some amazing things since I began working on the wireless. I’ve met incredible people, both celebrities and some not so well-known. I’ve had the chance to broadcast from some places that were a lot of fun – celebrity golf days, music festivals, agricultural shows and even the main streets of small country towns with more characters than an old fashioned radio serial.

But the big wake-up call came when I was sitting in a café one day minding my own business over a cup of coffee when an elderly lady, who had no idea who I was, spontaneously struck up a conversation with me. She proceeded to tell me what she’d learned that day. She told me that a new mine was being considered by Muswellbrook City Council, she told me that The Sunny Cowgirls were coming to town and she told me how wonderful this year’s country music awards were – all things I had shared with her on radio a few hours earlier. It was at that point that I realised I had made a difference. I was doing something important. I was a source of information, and a friend to people I had never met.

I’ve found my passion again and I’m enjoying my time on-air and equally enjoying the time it takes to prepare for my on-air work. It took going back to basics. Rediscovering that success is all about doing something well regardless of where you’re doing. Refocusing on the things I’d always told myself – be good at what you’re doing, not what you think you want to do, always strive to be improve and above all else, recognise that I have a responsibility to that person who lets me shares a small part of their life each day, the person who invites me into their home, car or workplace for a few hours every morning. The listener, who despite living in a regional town, deserves great radio just like his cousin in the city does.

Remembering the reasons why I wanted to be a radio announcer in the first place, the desire to tell stories, inform and entertain, is what helped me regain my faith. It gave me back my religion. I feel blessed.

Tuesday
Aug212012

The Law of Atrophy

For those late to the party, at the beginning of 2011, I decided I needed to get fit. Not only did I need to get fit, but I needed to lose near enough to one hundred kilograms. I’m sure you’ll agree that the task was pretty big and required drastic changes, so I embarked on a health and fitness regime that involved four workout sessions per week with a personal trainer, three additional sessions per week either by myself or in a group fitness class and a radical change to my eating habits. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult and it worked. By Christmas I had lost fifty kilograms – half the weight I needed to lose. However, the dreaded plateau effect kicked in and I hit a wall. It was about that time that I came into contact with Shannan Ponton of “The Biggest Loser” fame and in January of this year I embarked on an intensive eight week challenge that he put together. To say that I smashed through the plateau is an understatement. I lost another twenty-one kilos in that eight week period and achieved a level of fitness that I though was well and truly behind me. I was a new man.

 

Fast forward to July of this year and I began a new chapter of my life. I started a new job and moved to a new town, BUT, I fell into some old habits. My diet degenerated, my training became less frequent and I started to put on weight again. In fact, I put on nearly half of what Shannan had helped me lose. As with last time, drastic times called for drastic measures so when the opportunity to team up with Shannan again, I jumped at the chance. However this time I wasn’t coming off a base of regular training and healthy eating. I’m now starting from a mentally worse position that I did at the start of the year, so whilst the weight loss goals are not as important, the changes in attitude are. I have single-handedly proved the law of atrophy – that is, if you do nothing, you won’t just stay where you are, you’ll actually go backwards.

To cut a long story short, I’ve just finished the first week of the challenge and have lost 3.4 kilograms – and I have to say that week one wasn’t perfect. My diet was less than strict and my training infrequent. This week is a new beginning and I’m on my way to losing another twenty kilograms and getting back on track to my ultimate goal. I’ll be blogging about my journey each week and speaking to Shannan regularly on Hunter Valley Today about my progress. I hope you’ll help keep me accountable and maybe learn something along the way.

 

Stephen