“Before we get carried away, there remains many issues to be resolved such as the NCA’s wondrously stupid backing of the ACT government’s off-the-planet proposal for suburb developments along West Basin,” writes PAUL COSTIGAN
“HOW very Joni Mitchell!” said the editor of this fine journal when I quoted that fine songstress’s lyrics “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” in a recent on-air exchange about what I might miss, having decided to depart the radio game after 32 years.
I’m not game to label what I will or won’t miss just yet, but I know some things are going to be different. I’ll still be involved in the media, albeit at arm’s length, helping out our fine ACT constabulary with their media operations, but it will take a bit to adjust to not being in a studio and in control of the program (apologies to the many fine producers I’ve worked with over the years. You may have thought you were in control, but that was a nice little fiction I let you get away with).
When you work on the radio, you’re always on duty. Even in social situations. You’ll have a conversation at a party where someone mentions a problem with getting a pothole fixed on their street or they tell you about their neighbour’s cat that can play the piano.
These stories are the bread and butter for local radio stations, but after three decades it’ll be nice to turn off at parties and similar events. Or at least I hope it will be.
There’s also the expectation that because you talk for a living that you’ll be willing to get up in front of a crowd at the drop of a hat and do some impromptu MC work. It’s rare that radio people will say no, but here’s a tip, most of us will initially be petrified at the thought of addressing an audience of strangers that we can actually see. And to do it unprepared? That’s the nightmare. It would probably be only marginally worse to have to do it naked.
And while most of the people you hear on your radio are pretty good with trivia, it doesn’t mean we really know all the bits and pieces we say. There’s a lot of research that goes into a radio show, before and during the broadcast. I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years I’ve been introduced to somebody as “Chris Coleman from the radio station” and within two minutes been asked: “You’d know this, who sings that song? The one that goes da dum-dum da-da la la la bading!” Or “Who won the 1975 Formula One World Championship?” And there are the almost automatic invitations to be on teams for trivia contests!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about it, it’s some sort of honour to be thought of as a font of knowledge, but as someone who’s made a living from knowing a little about a lot, the fear of not having those answers will subside fairly quickly.
However, one thing I can state with certainty is that my life won’t be the same without the daily interactions with people. Whether it’s the people who’ve been an active part of the shows; from talkback callers to prime ministers, or the audience who have (I hope) enjoyed what I’ve put out there. It’s been a true privilege and honour to share a large part of my life, the good times and the bad, with you.
And for that, I thank you.