Personal tragedy played out on live radio uplifts us all

Comment from Peter Saxon

Once every blue moon, a tragic event occurs that brings out the best in people and the best in radio as it helps unite us in the face of adversity.
One of the most poignant was a live report by 5DN (now CRUISE1323) journalist  Murray Nicoll, from the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 as he watched his own house burn down. His chilling description, beyond what pictures could do, reached into to our souls as we felt his despair.

At the moment, I’m watching my house burn down. I’m sitting out on the road in front of my own house where I’ve lived for 13 or 14 years and it’s going down in front of me. And the flames are in the roof and—Oh, God damn it. It’s just beyond belief—my own house. And everything around it is black. There are fires burning all around me. All around me. And the front section of my house is blazing. The roof has fallen in. My water tanks are useless. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it. 

Ray Hadley’s careful reporting on 2GB of the Lindt Café siege as it developed was another such event.

But last week’s revelation by Robin Bailey that she was quitting Triple M Brisbane’s Big Breakfast to care for her terminally ill husband, Sean Pickwell moved us to tears on a very personal level. Perhaps it’s because losing a loved one before their time is something many of us are much more likely to have to face, at some point in our lives, than a siege or a bushfire. 

Former SCA content chief, now international consultant and Game Changers presenter Craig Bruce told radioinfo:

 Over the last couple of weeks radio has dealt with the tragedy of losing Danny Frawley and now Robin and Sean’s devastating news.
It’s moments like these where listeners take great comfort from their radio companions who find the strength to share an incredibly challenging life event when it would be so much easier to say nothing.
Presenters like Robin, and the team at 3MMM and SEN in the case of Danny Frawley, receive a huge amount of support from their listeners in moments like these.

In lots of ways it’s cathartic for both the audience and presenter.

Perhaps it sounds a bit crass to say that last week’s tearful farewell to Robin with her Big Breakfast co-hosts Greg Martin and Nick Cody made for great radio. But it was great radio for all the best reasons.

It wasn’t a reality show. It is reality. A reality to which we can all relate as we learn something from the main characters.

“If I never return to radio,” says Robin. “I’ve ticked all the boxes. But you know what, the most important thing in life is your family, the most important thing is love.”

If you haven’t heard the audio or seen the video I urge you to, go here now. I hope you find this tragic situation ultimately uplifting as I have.

Peter Saxon




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