How the world turns. Sydney television was a wonderful thing in the early-to-mid 1980s, when I was a young technical sales rep eager to get about and visit these citadels of televisual magic, high on their respective hilltops.
A must-visit was the ABC studios at Gore Hill, a ramshackle bunch of buildings that could have housed the CSIRO as easily as a national broadcaster (except that the CSIRO generally had the better, more modern buildings). But they loved visitors, if said visitor could only find their way to the appropriate door without being runover or falling into a pit. One false step and the historic Gore Hill Cemetery (handily next door) beckoned.
And there was Channel 7, high on its hill at Mobb’s Lane, far and away the most technically adept, keen to show off to anyone who passed by their back-door tennis courts and helipad their exceptional broadcasting prowess. Look here at this state-of-the-art computer-based logo-promo creation studio thingy that we kindly allow the other, less well endowed TV stations and advertising agencies use. Look at our stunning teletext, right at the front door so you can’t miss it – yes, a streaming text service! One day everyone will want one of these! And out the side door, past the temperamental stars to the magical world of heli-borne outside broadcast. Wonderment. There I was, but a callow youth selling patch cords, connectors and RF gear to the masters of invention.
Or take a look at (then) relative youngster Channel 10, standing proud at the corner of Epping and Delhi Roads. Clean, fresh, brash and full of challenge and hope. With (of course) a helipad, and plenty of parking. And massive blow-up pics of their stars in the foyer.
Impressive. But I haven’t introduced the main player of this era, the champion of the ratings: Channel 9, Artarmon. What a surprise on first visit, almost a let-down yet quaint in a way. Here we are in a typically leafy northern suburban street… and suddenly there it is, in all its unprepossessing glory. A gatehouse. A tiny parking area and the firm direction that I could go in but be quick – and whatever you do, don’t park in Jim Waley’s spot! I took that instruction to heart, wondering all the while what powers of destruction a Sunday news presenter could muster. Later I visited the impressive Channel 9 “extensions”, namely a house next door. This was the ratings leader?
Which brings me to today, when all that I have written above has turned on its head: DUMPED Nine news veteran Jim Waley has broken his silence and damned his former TV home, which he says is now “fighting for its life.”
A new world indeed. A game of Internet Convergence anyone?