Wayne Mac’s submission on ScreenSound review

The second stage of ScreenSound Directions Paper has been completed, with most submissions coming from non-radio groups. Another of the very few submissions with a radio perspective came from Canberra based commercial radio researcher and former air personality/PD Wayne Mac.

Many radioinfo readers will know of Wayne’s commitment to ensuring our radio heritage is preserved and well cared for. Using his own time, and without financial backing, he has thoroughly researched and archived great moments in radio of the ’60s, ’70 and ’80s. Wayne expects to publish a long-awaited book chronicling this period later in 2004.

Like the Australian Old Time Radio group, which gave a mixed critique of the work of the ScreenSound Archive – praising some of the radio work being done, and criticising other aspects of the handling of the radio collection, Wayne has some views worth noting.

In his submission Wayne Mac says:

Obviously my interests lie in the ‘Sound’ side of ScreenSound (SSA) and I’d to put on record my thanks to the people of SSA on the marvellous work they’ve done in the radio sector over many years. The fact the so much of our early radio material has been collected, painstakingly preserved and made accessible to the public is a credit to all involved. That’s not to say SSA can’t improve or broaden its scope in the sound area. Indeed it must do these things to remain relevant.

I know from experience that if ever I need a recording of an episode of “Dad n Dave”, “McCackie Mansions” or “Portia Faces Life” etc, I’ll find them here at SSA. If however, I want to hear the tones of the pioneering Melbourne disc jockey Stan Rofe, who passed away last year, I won’t find much of rich, exuberance in the SSA archive. Nor will I find much information about the pioneering DJs or those who followed in the ’70 and ’80s.

Rightly or wrongly SSA gives the impression that Australian radio ‘stopped’ in the 1950s. To further illustrate that claim: there are over 1300 Mavis entries for the renowned broadcaster Jack Davey (MAVIS is the name of the ScreenSound Australia cataloguing database). For Stan Rofe, who in later generations was as significant as Jack Davey, there are only three! And not one of these is a sample of his program that made Stan Rofe famous on radio. And this goes for many of Stan’s ’60s contemporaries: performers such as Mike Walsh, Don Lunn, Bob Francis, Ken Sparkes, Ward Austin to name a handful.

Because of my specific interest in future strategies for Collection Development: I’d like to recommend that SSA adopt targeted program strategies to ensure that fresh radio archival materials from the ‘post television age’ are sourced from the radio industry and private individuals… and of course make these items accessible to the public.

Sounds like a big job…but it needn’t be. With some expertise, research and adequate resources, I’m confident that SSA can make improvements in this vital area of the Sound/Radio collection.

Just while we’re on ‘Sound’: Early in the review process I couldn’t help but notice the inference that the collecting of ‘sound’ might be better situated in Sydney or Melbourne. Using my own considerable experience as a part time collector of archival radio I can’t agree with that proposition at all. In the past 6 or 7 years I’ve managed to build good working relationships with over 500 radio broadcasters – past and present. This was all done though, conventional mail, email, the worldwide web and on the phone. Remember, I am one person – not an organisation. In fact, in 1998, when I sourced an important collection of Australian radio material from the ’60s and ’70s, I found them on a farm in Scotland. That was after I received a tip off from a contact in Sweden who had been talking with a business associate in the United States by phone. So; collecting and the importance of building relationships and networks can be done without moving great slabs of valuable infrastructure and people.