Archive for December, 2011

Rush Limbaugh on Fox News in about 15 minutes from now

A quick note that Greta Van Susteren (whose first name I keep mistyping as “Great”, which may very well be accurate) will be interviewing Rush Limbaugh on her FOX News show for the full hour, starting in about 15 minutes from now. The show will then be repeated three hours later at 5pm Canberra time (1am US Eastern/10pm US Pacific).

It is days like this that the cost of my Mobile Foxtel subscription is justified.

Samuel

December 30th, 2011 at 01:46pm

Voter Fraud

I have to give plenty of credit today to Senator Gary Humphries (Liberal-ACT) for bringing up the topic of the ongoing problem of voter fraud. That is, people voting more than once through various means.

The last Federal election saw over 500 cases in the ACT where a person may have voted more than once, according to official Australian Electoral Commission data.

1458 people across Australia actually admitted to multiple voting. Of those, 19 cases were referred to the AFP for further investigation, but at the conclusion of the investigation just 3 people were issued with a formal police caution.

The figures have been obtained by Senate Opposition Leader Senator Eric Abetz, a former Special Minister of State.

The 506 potential multiple votes from the ACT add to the national total of 29,920.

“In every one of the 506 cases in the ACT, not one was referred to the Federal Police – that to me is cause for great concern,” Senator Gary Humphries said today

“By the AEC’s own admission, a simple denial of multiple voting leads to no further follow up by the authorities.

“It is imperative that Australia’s voting system is robust and its integrity is upheld. If the net result of 29,920 cases of multiple voting is no prosecutions at all, where is the disincentive?

“We may need to consider better methods of ensuring voter identification at election time.

“It’s also clear that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on pursuing alleged offenders if we are to maintain confidence in our electoral system,” Senator Humphries concluded.

(h/t The RiotACT)

It’s just a shame that this is being brought up now, at a time of year when very few people will notice, because it is a real problem and it is probably changing the outcome of elections…and when you consider just how close the last election was, it’s a very real worry.

Of particular concern to me is this line from Senator Humphries’ press release:

By the AEC’s own admission, a simple denial of multiple voting leads to no further follow up by the authorities.

In other words, if you deny that you voted more than once, the prosecution will not be pursued, mainly because there is no real proof that it was actually you who turned up to all of those polling places.

Personally I am in favour of requiring voters to produce photo ID at polling places, although this still doesn’t entirely solve the problem as it does not stop fraudulent identity documents from being used and therefore does not provide enough evidence to prove that anybody has actually committed electoral fraud. Therefore I also support the idea of requiring that people have their photo taken when they have their ID checked…while this doesn’t stop the multiple votes at the time, it does provide actual proof for a prosecution, which in turn provides a real disincentive to cast multiple votes.

I elaborated on my thoughts and reasoning in a lengthy comment over at The RiotACT which is copied in below for your convenience.

It’s not just party hacks who vote multiple times; people who want more of a say in the process for one reason or another do it too, whether they be non-party affiliated ideologues (I count myself in this category, although I have not voted more than once in any election), angered with the status quo to the point where they think they have to take action, simply pompous enough to think that their view is more important, or some other reason, or perhaps a combination of the above.

At the last ACT election, a friend nearly gave me their vote because they weren’t interested enough to vote. It was tempting, but in the end I came to the conclusion that it was better for them to simply not cast a vote (by turning up and casting an invalid vote) than to give somebody more of a say than they deserve. The interesting thing about this though is that if it had worked the other way (ie. they couldn’t be bothered voting and asked for a copy of my vote so that they could submit an identical vote) there would be no way to track it as, for all intents and purposes, we would have both voted individually.

In the last federal election I considered studying the electoral roll and presenting to polling places as various people from the electoral roll…never twice to the same polling place and never twice as the same person. This way it would be difficult to prove that I, or any of the people I presented as, would have actually voted twice. Further, to assist in avoiding attending polling places as somebody who has already voted, I would map out where the people that I intended to impersonate live and avoid impersonating somebody at their nearest couple of polling places.

The biggest danger from this plan would come from, ironically, party operatives (ie. the pamphlet pushers and their supervisors) who circulate between polling places throughout the day and might recognise me in multiple places. It would also have been imperative to avoid any location which, at the time, contained a candidate, as appearing in the background of footage of candidates in multiple locations could pose a problem.

Again, I did not go through with this, partially because it would have been the wrong thing to do, and partially because I had to work on election day and would not have had the time or energy to make it worthwhile, especially seeing as the only way to make this worthwhile is to ignore safe seats and visit marginal electorates…and our nearest marginal electorate does not have the density of population or polling places to aide in the efficiency of such an operation.

I do believe that something should be done to try and stop electoral fraud, but branding people with ink is not the answer. Any ink can be removed with enough effort. At best such a plan would just slow down those who are keen to vote more than once. It certainly does not prevent somebody malicious from fronting to a polling booth as somebody else in order to prevent that person from voting, even if they then do not remove the ink and simply pay the fine for not voting themselves.

I do believe that requiring photo ID at polling places is the way to go. I do not believe that people with less identifying documents are more likely to vote for Labor or the Greens, nor do I believe that said people lack the resources to obtain valid identifying documents. My mum, for example, does not have photo ID and, quite reminiscent of a scene from ‘Mother & Son’ doesn’t quite understand what it is, thinking that an old photo of herself counts. This is something which can be overcome through an advertising campaign, and perhaps some assistance from a close family member or friend (I could take Mum to a government shopfront at any time and help her get a Proof Of Age card if she ever wanted one, for example).

The benefit of photo ID is that it proves that you are who you say you are and that you are not somebody else (something which ink can not do). There is still the small problem of identity theft and forged documents, although it is much harder to produce such documents these days due to the protection mechanisms in modern identity documents.

At the same time, I do not believe that a live electronic database tracking who has and has not voted, and checking people against that list when they present to vote, is a viable option either as it is too open to abuse, be it by somebody running around with fake ID or by a rogue electoral worker or by a hacker.

A potential solution would be to take a photograph of a person when they show up to vote and have presented their ID. Then, later on, any recorded instances of a person voting more than once could be checked against the photographs taken at the polling places and prosecution could be based on this evidence…the penalties might need to be a bit tougher than they currently are though, otherwise it might not be worthwhile chasing people.

Multiple voting is a problem which can be minimised, but not entirely eliminated in my view. Active checks of ID on the day, while gathering enough evidence (photos) for follow-up if necessary is in my view the simplest, safest and most-effective way to minimise the problem while still erring on the side of caution so as to not accidentally prevent somebody from exercising their right to vote.

Samuel

December 30th, 2011 at 01:40pm

(W)here’s Humphrey?

For as long as I can remember, Carols By Candlelight has been an institution in my household, being absolutely compulsory viewing every Christmas Eve. For me, it has marked the turning point at which the busy-busy build-up to Christmas ends and the relaxation of the arrival of this most joyous of days arrives.

I’ll admit that, since Ray Martin decided to vacate his position as host of the show, the show has felt less and less special to me each year. It seems as if the show has become less traditional since Ray left, and the tradition of it is what really made it special…it’s what made me (and everyone in the house for that matter) eagerly watch the show or listen to bits of it on the radio if I still had presents to wrap.

This year that slow decline finally hit the point where I could no longer bear to watch. It started with Lisa reading “Dennis Walker” off the prompter without even thinking that it might actually be Dennis Walter, and then discussing with Karl the fact that this “Dennis Walker” is not related to Stan Walker…a clear and sure sign that not only was most of Karl and Lisa’s banter coming straight off the prompter, but they also had no idea what they were talking about or who was going to be on the show.

Then “Uncle Doug”, the eccentric head of the choir, was asked to lead the choir in their usual performance of “Ding Dong Merrily On High”. When Doug sings this song, he becomes quite animated, and it is tradition to see Doug get stuck right in to this song…but no, we got stuck with wide shots of the choir. Doug was in there somewhere, but was practically invisible. One of the highlights of the night each year was gone.

Then, the clincher. Every year for as long as I can remember, and probably longer, Humphrey B. Bear has been involved in the kid’s segment in which Santa comes to visit. In recent years Hi-5 became the main attraction here, and I could accept that given their popularity and prominence within the Nine Network, but Humphrey still had a key role, most recently as Santa’s helper. I was worried when I did not see Humphrey listed in the opening credits, but sat and waited patiently anyway. Hi-5 came on, and at this point everything was normal as Hi-5 always come on first and sing their usual array of songs…but then it got weird as a cross-promotion for a movie came on stage to help Hi-5 find Santa…The Happy Feet Penguins.

When I say “The Happy Feet Penguins” I really mean a bunch of creatures which only bore a passing resemblance to the aforementioned penguins. Santa then appeared, did his thing and left to carry on with his busy schedule. No Humphrey.

At this point I turned the television off in disgust. Humphrey is an extremely important part of the tradition of of Carols By Candlelight; he makes me extremely happy and mellows me to the point where I am nice and comfortable and ready to enjoy the rest of the night’s entertainment. The lack of Humphrey made me angry, and with the rest of the show having not impressed me up until that point, I could not carry on watching it. Others in my household expressed similar thoughts and feelings.

I was later informed that Humphrey appeared later in the night, which placated me to an extent (although he really should be on with Santa), but it turns out that his appearance later in the night was incidental and almost accidental. As David Knox as TV Tonight explains:

Humphrey was at the Bowl making appearances on the night and the Dress Rehearsal, but relegated to commercial breaks.
[..]
Humphrey finally came out during the curtain call, a fleeting glimpse of a bear without pants somewhere amongst the crowd….

Well I’m sorry, but I’m livid. Humphrey is an icon, a National treasure and an institution. Humphrey deserves better than to be relegated to warming up the audience. Excluding him from the television show is a disgrace. I can understand the incentive for having the penguins which didn’t look like the product they were promoting as a part of the show, but there was no reason to exclude Humphrey. Humphrey could still have made an appearance with Santa as Santa’s assistant…it didn’t have to be a big role, but he owns the Santa segment and, with all due respect to Santa (who also seemed to shunted aside to an extent to make room for the show-sponsoring almost-penguins), the segment does not work without him.

All I can say is that a Christmas tradition was ruined for me last night, and if Humphrey’s name is absent from the opening titles again next year, I shall not be watching.

To treat Humphrey in such a way is shabby at best, and I won’t allow my Christmas eve to be tarnished in such a way again. If that means that I miss out on Carols By Candlelight, then so be it…they’re not the only source of carolling, and I will get my fix elsewhere.

As David Knox says:

Christmas is one of the few times we get to see Humphrey -please sort this out for 2012

Hear hear! And if Nine can’t sort it out, then I hope that someone else picks up the rights to Humphrey and will treat him with the dignity he deserves. Icons who have entertained and educated generations upon generations of Australians deserve so much better than what Nine did to poor old Humphrey last night. Hopefully it is fixed for next year, and hopefully Humphrey is compensated with an enormous amount of honey…it’s the least he deserves, and about the only way that Nine will get me to watch Carols next year.

Samuel

December 25th, 2011 at 12:45pm

Merry Christmas…and a Christmas present for you

Good morning and Merry Christmas to all (and to all a good night if that happens to be your timezone).

I would like to wish you all a very merry and safe Christmas, and a joyous new year filled with many good things. Before we reach the new year though, I would like to offer you a Christmas present.

Over the years there have been many adaptions of the Twelve Days Of Christmas, but by far the best in my opinion is a BBC production titled “And Yet Another Partridge In A Pear Tree” starring Penelope Keith as the lovely and increasingly bewildered recipient of the many gifts of the twelve days of Christmas.

It is a comic delight, but it is also rare. Although the BBC do have it available to stream on their website these days, it has never been offered for sale to the general public, and the number of people on the Internet looking for an MP3 version of this marvellous production is nothing short of extraordinary. Today, as a gift to you, I offer an MP3 download of the best version of the Twelve Days Of Christmas in existence. Enjoy!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download MP3

Merry Christmas from Samuel, Nattie and Pebbles (who? The long-awaited announcement will explain this shortly…although who knows what the definition of shortly is on this blog).

December 25th, 2011 at 07:31am

Kim Jong Il back from the dead?

Is it just me, or does it look like Kim Jong Il has come back from the dead to watch his own funeral?

20111222-180719.jpg

See the man on the left with the glow around him? It’s a worry…

Samuel

December 22nd, 2011 at 06:09pm

RIH Kim Jong Il (yes, the H is intentional)

And I’ll let your imagination work out what RIH might stand for.

North Korea’s menace of a ruler, Kim Jong Il, is dead. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Unfortunately his insane son Kim Jon Un will take over as leader, although one does have to wonder if the fact that Un is even more crazy than Il could result in a destabilisation of the family’s leadership in the future, and hopefully the end of an awful regime…although when I say “hopefully”, I do still worry about the fallout from such an end to that regime.

For what it’s worth, as this screenshot will attest (blurring added to protect the identity of those who “liked” my status update) I had this news up on Facebook at 2:21pm, mere moments after I received a mobile alert about the news from Matt Drudge’s excellent DrudgeReport.com, and before most (not all) of the Australian media had caught up…alerts from Drudge are very rare, so you know that something very big and very serious has happened when an alert comes through. On this occasion it was good news.

Kim Jong Il Is Dead!, posted at 2:21pm
(update, image should appear now. Dumbo here typed “mp3” as the file extension rather than “jpg”)

Casey Hendrickson posted about it at about the same time as me, and although he and I were both beaten by most US news outlets, we both beat CNN to the news…hardly surprising. Anyway, Casey noted something which amused me as well:

North Korean TV says he died from “Physical and mental over-work”.

Ahhh those communists, always claiming that work is bad for you.

Casey also muses:

His psychopath son, Kim Jong Un, will now take over. We’ll know soon if the world will stay the same, be better, or if we’ll see WWIII break out.

I’m tipping that it will stay the same for the moment, but when enough people in North Korea cotton on to just how nuts Kim Jong Un is, we will see a fracture in the country which will result in in-fighting, followed by some people defecting to the South to escape while the rest of the nutters keep fighting against themselves and eventually fire at the defectors, which will reignite the Korean war…whether that leads to a global conflict, I don’t know, but I think the markets are on the money with their fall in reaction to the news of Kim Jong Il’s death.

Casey has more information about this on his blog at http://caseyhendrickson.wordpress.com/ including information on why he thinks North Koreans will not rise up against their government (video not available in Australia…I’ll try and find a version which is later) for the most part I think he is right, but I also think a small number of people deciding that they’ve had enough will be enough to start a conflict there. It’s well worth a read.

But until a conflict breaks out, there is some time to celebrate the death of an evil man…and that is precisely what I intend to do.

Update: In the spirit of happiness, this made me burst out laughing, a website which is dedicated to photos of Kim Jong Il looking at things http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com/. Again, h/t Casey Hendrickson for the link.

Samuel

1 comment December 19th, 2011 at 03:37pm

Samuel’s Musician Of The Week: Judith Durham

I’m sure that I have given the award to Judith Durham before, but I saw her singing last night at Carols In The Domain and was moved by her performance, so this week’s award goes to the lovely Ms. Judith Durham and we have two songs from her from last night’s performance: “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and a slightly modified version of “Morningtown Ride”.

(With thanks to YouTube user BrainyAlien1 who uploaded this video. I was going to upload it myself, but BrainyAlien1 has already uploaded one with higher video quality than what I would have uploaded.)

Samuel

2 comments December 18th, 2011 at 03:09pm

Merry Christmas!

Good morning John,

I just got home from work and I'm too tired to stay up, so I won't ring, but I just wanted to wish you, Rhonda and Martine a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year before you disappear for the rest of the year. Hopefully you got my card. I was a bit late in sending it, but I sent it via Express Post so hopefully it arrived, but if it hasn't and you receive it upon your return in the new year, just pretend that I'm running 11 months early.

Anyway John, I'll leave you for the year with a really nice Christmas news story from a TV station in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which seems to have started an amazing trend all across America of people paying for stranger's layby orders. The story is copied in below for you.

Merry Christmas!

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

From WOOD TV (Channel 8, Grand Rapids, Michigan)
http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/grand_rapids/Secret-Santa-pays-off-layaway-balances

Secret Santa picks up 3 layaway bills

Kindness 'Restored faith in people'

Updated: Monday, 12 Dec 2011, 8:25 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 06 Dec 2011, 9:40 PM EST

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – Christmas came early for three people in West Michigan when a stranger picked up the tab on some presents.

It happened Monday night at the Big Kmart on the 4000 block of Plainfield Avenue in Plainfield Township. A woman, described only as "being in her 30s," walked up to the layaway desk, pushing a shopping cart full of toys she planned to donate.  

"This lady came up randomly and said, 'Can I, you know, pay off some people's layaway?'" said Dannell Goddard. Goddard works at Kmart in the layaway department. She told 24 Hour News 8 that when she first heard the request, she was a bit confused.  

"I was like, 'Well, are you trying to pick them up? 'Cause you can't pick them up if you don't have an ID," Goddard said. "And [the mystery woman] replied, 'Nope, I just want to help people.'"

The woman looked through several of the about 800 layaway contract tickets at the store. She randomly picked and paid the bill on three of them. She paid about $500 between all three of them and left a $10 balance on each of the accounts.

The woman's only requirement was that there were toys in the layaway orders.  

"It was really crazy the way she did it. She was so excited and so happy to do it," said Goddard. "She had a great heart, and I told her that I felt like she had a great heart, and she said she doesn't want to take appreciation for it. She just felt that she was blessed and she wanted to bless others."

One of the recipients of that kindness was Mary Chapin. She told 24 Hour News 8 the act of kindness "restored her faith in people."  

Chapin had put about $200 worth of toys on layaway for her son, David, Monday afternoon. She said she hoped she'd be able to pay off the balance by the week before Christmas.  

Then she got a call from Kmart that changed all that.  

"They said that someone had paid $180 on my layaway and there was only $10 left," said Chapin. "I thought it was a joke."  

Chapin wanted to say thank you, but the only clue to the woman's identity was a message on her receipt that read, "Happy Holiday from a friend."  

"I thank her. It's the best gift that I ever received, and it's the gift of believing in people," said Chapin. "And believing that there's good out there, 'cause you don't always see that."  

The entire layaway order was for 12-year-old David who has autism. Chapin told 24 Hour News 8 she was so excited she gave her son one of those toys, a brand new LEGO set.    

Chapin has her own name for her family's Secret Santa. She calls the woman "an angel" for her family. She said that angel gave her family a far bigger gift than the toys themselves.  

"Even though we're all in the same boat, nobody's thinking about anyone else, it's every man for himself," said Chapin. To have somebody come along behind, and just do something that's totally unnecessary but so appreciated, it just really made a difference."

The day after the story aired on 24 Hour News 8, another secret Santa went to the Plainfield Kmart and offered to pay off 13 more layaway bills — to the tune of about $2,000.

It was the largest layaway payoff in the history of the store.

December 18th, 2011 at 02:54am

Mum’s Christmas Present

I went out and bought Mum’s Christmas present today…well, one of them anyway, there will be more but for the moment I am talking about the main one.

A couple weeks ago after a discussion with Dad about what we wanted to get Mum for Christmas, we came up with an idea that we had considered briefly earlier in the year. It seemed like a good idea, but I had a couple reservations still, so I sought the advice of Leo Laporte, tech broadcaster extraordinaire. I was on his radio show at the top of the second hour…and Leo being Leo, there is video of it…so if you want to know what Mum’s Christmas present is (it’s OK, Mum knows too) then watch the first few minutes of the video (it should start at the correct point, 40 minutes and 45 seconds).

Long-term readers may remember that I interviewed Leo Laporte back in 2006 on Samuel’s Persiflage episode number 8 which was before Leo’s radio show went in to syndication and when his TWIT network was still a mere handful of shows. Things seem to have progressed more-or-less as he predicted, although I doubt even he thought his network would grow to the size that it has.

There is another reason to watch as well. There has been some very exciting news afoot in my household recently, but as yet I have not shared it here on this blog…only a limited number of people know about this, however there is some information about it in this video. Watch the video and see if you can work it out. I will reveal the answer in the next day or so. A superfluous word in this paragraph may also contain a clue.

Samuel

3 comments December 16th, 2011 at 03:33pm

McDonald not as unhealthy as is often claimed

I sent this email to 2UE’s John Kerr in the wee hours of Sunday morning

Hi John,

I’m at work at the moment, so I can’t call, but I’m enjoying listening anyway.

I just heard your comments about McDonald’s and I have to agree. Apart from having a decent product, the stores are all locally owned and provide employment for a huge number of people across the country, and not all of them are kids either. It’s a success story of the free market, providing services that people want, need and desire, and thriving as a result.

McDonald’s gets blasted for being unhealthy, and you might remember the so-called documentary a few years back “super size me”. Well multiple independent studies have followed the methods employed by that film to discredit McDonald’s and, to their surprise, the participants not only lost weight, but were deemed to be healthier by their doctors. I don’t endorse living entirely off McDonald’s food, but in moderation it’s fine.

A friend of mine, Casey Hendrickson, who hosts a breakfast radio program in Indiana, put together a video about the studies in to McDonald’s called “Using Their McSmarts”. It’s on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj6imJNQXBY if you’re interested.

Changing subject, when you speak to Derek Dryden next, could you please say thanks to him from me. I ordered a book through his website a couple weeks ago. The book is out if print and was probably never sold in Australia. One if his staff, Kate, was able to track down the publisher and order a reprint for me. It should arrive in a few weeks. Fantastic service. Derek and his staff deserve a big thanks.

Have a wonderful week John!

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

For your convenience, here is the video to which I referred:

Also if you are wondering, the book which I ordered from Derek Dryden’s Better Read Than Dead is radio host Mark Levin‘s “Men In Black” which is about judges overstepping their authority. Amazon has used copies for sale, but Derek’s people were able to order a reprint which is preferable in my view. The book is topical today given that a judge in New South Wales is pushing for the abandonment of jury trials…again. The day we let the elites strip us of our right to a jury of our peers is the day that we can say goodbye to a civil society.

Samuel

December 14th, 2011 at 01:45pm

Canada does what we should have done years ago

This has been coming for a while, but it’s official now.

Canada will formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the minister of the environment has said.

Peter Kent said the protocol “does not represent a way forward for Canada” and the country would face crippling fines for failing to meet its targets.
[..]
He said meeting Canada’s obligations under Kyoto would cost $13.6bn (10.3bn euros; £8.7bn): “That’s $1,600 from every Canadian family – that’s the Kyoto cost to Canadians, that was the legacy of an incompetent Liberal government”.

(h/t BBC News)

It should be noted that “Liberal government” in Canada means left-wing as their Liberal Party is somewhere in the realm of our Labor Party.

Canada has seen through the folly of man-made global warming. They embraced a conservative government which promised to not introduce an emissions trading scheme, and now they are opting out of economically destructive things like the Kyoto protocol which will do nothing to help the environment.

It’s about time that we followed suit…although seeing as our federal government is touting the same factually-inaccurate line as the BBC article that “a last-minute deal on climate change was agreed in Durban” when in fact what happened was that countries agreed to keep talking until 2015 with the aim of possibly having something set up by 2020, with the optional involvement of China and India in the talks, I think we’re going to need a change of government before we start to see any sanity in government climate policies in this country.

Samuel

December 14th, 2011 at 11:28am

The MTR cutbacks reach critical mass

A month or so back the rumours of impending cutbacks at Melbourne’s newest talkback radio station MTR1377 started to come true when overnight news bulletins started to be relayed from 2GB in Sydney rather than being locally produced. Local night programming was also dropped in favour of a straight relay from 2GB with local commercials. It all seemed to be happening slowly, and with Program Director and Breakfast host Steve Price adamant that rumours of the station’s local programs’ impending demise were false, it was hard to escape the conclusion that Steve Price had some hand in preventing Macquarie Radio executives from wielding the axe.

It came as no surprise yesterday then, now that Steve Price is on holidays, when it was announced that the entire news room at MTR has been sacked, and little surprise today when it was revealed that Steve Vizard’s morning show will be axed when Vizard goes on holidays at the end of the week, to be replaced by 2GB’s Ray Hadley Morning Show. As Jock’s Journal reports:

A close source has revealed that Steve Vizard will be finishing up at MTR 1377 on Friday. The only live shows from Melbourne on MTR will be breakfast and drive, everything else will come out of Sydney. Most of the newsroom staff who were made redundant have already moved on to new jobs. Melissa Polimeni, Allison Wallace and Matt Thompson have been hired by SEN, who will now provide their own news service. Ashleigh Brown had already quit and is starting at 3AW in January. No word on the future moves of Christie Kerr or Ben Radisich.

It should be noted that Christie Kerr was still on the air on MTR this morning, although the sound quality was different to yesterday, almost as if she was working in a different studio or pre-recording her appearances.

It is interesting that SEN, the Pacific Star owned and operated station, has hired some of the journalists from MTR, the Pacific Star & Macquarie Radio joint venture station. MTR is likely to get the long-promised upgrade to its transmitter that Macquarie have long-claimed will make the station more profitable (or perhaps “less unprofitable” would be the right terminology) and so I have to wonder if MTR will at some stage run a small local news bulletin before or after 2GB’s news, utilising the resources of the SEN newsroom?

At the moment there is no word about the future of MTR’s weekend afternoon program with Glenn Ridge. I would be a tad surprised if it gets axed as 2GB’s weekend afternoon programming, not so much in summer but especially in winter, is very NRL-centric and MTR currently provides an alternative to the AFL on almost every other talk station in Melbourne. It might be an idea for MTR to carry NRL matches from 2GB as SEN is busy with AFL at that time, but the hours of NRL discussion would be too much for Melbourne.

What I do hope is that with the cost cutting now, once the transmitter upgrades have been completed, Macquarie and Pacific Star are willing to give MTR another shot with Melbourne-based programming, during the day at least. Taking Ray Hadley’s morning show would be preferable to taking Chris Smith’s afternoon show as Hadley’s show is the stronger news-based program in my view and would provide a decent alternative to Neil Mitchell on 3AW, plus Hadley’s show ends at 11am on network stations and MTR could easily run a locally-based show from 11am (or 12 if they decided to carry Alan Jones Highlights at 11). The afternoon is probably a better time for a local show than the morning, especially if you’re trying to carve out a point of difference to 3AW who have a very strong local morning show and a not-so-strong and not-particularly-newsy afternoon program.

It is sad to see MTR go through this, and I do have to wonder what Steve Price thinks about these changes being made while he is away, but I do hope that at the end of the process, MTR can return with a refined product which might be more competitive in the Melbourne market. They won’t beat 3AW any time soon, but they might at least be able to gain a few ratings points and reach a point where they are commercially viable.

Samuel

2 comments December 14th, 2011 at 10:11am

Conder and Banks to go without television for about a week

As part of the changeover to digital television, the southern Canberra suburbs of Conder and Banks will have analogue television switched off today. These two suburbs are, for the most part, unable to receive television transmissions from Tuggeranong Hill clearly and instead utilise a small relay transmitter at the back of Banks.

Reception and Transmission antennas at the Banks transmitter siteThe transmitter, which is located within the compound of the water tank on the hill behind Orange Thorn Crescent, receives transmissions from Tuggeranong Hill and then retransmits them across the area which is in the shadow of Tuggeranong Hill. The transmitter site is not large enough to accommodate analogue and digital transmission equipment at the same time, so the analogue equipment has to be removed before the digital equipment can be installed. According to workmen who were on-site yesterday, this should take about a week.

The transmitter at the back of BanksSome residents in Conder and Banks are able to receive transmissions from Tuggeranong Hill, especially those which are closer to the relay station than to Tuggeranong Hill, as they are in an elevated position which is not in the shadow of the transmitter site. Others in the valley put their antennas on large polls to receive signals from Tuggeranong Hill. It is interesting looking at some parts of Banks and Conder and seeing almost every house have an antenna which is pointing in a different direction to the antenna of their neighbour, especially in areas where reception from the Banks Water Tank would be clearer but people have gone to the extra effort to try and receive digital signals from Tuggeranong Hill. The people who use the Banks transmitter may very well decide to try and get a signal off Tuggeranong Hill when they turn on their TV this evening and find that they are no longer receiving a signal.

By the middle of next week, when the upgrades at the Banks transmitter site are completed, digital television reception in Conder and Banks should be greatly improved.

The rest of Canberra is due to have analogue television switched off on the 5th of June next year and will not have to do without television when that happens, as the rest of Canberra’s transmitter sites are large enough to accomodate analogue and digital transmission equipment at the same time, and have been running the services in parallel for a number of years.

Samuel

December 14th, 2011 at 06:59am


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