Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trying to find ones place in the world


Since getting the defiant no to my submission for getting 2PR an FM license, some interesting events, or should I say non-events have happened.  Again it is easy to be critical in my situation, but rather then windge, I just want to tell it as it is.  Most probably some who may be still mystified on the Asperger's Syndrome bit - hopefully this blog entry will explain.  But first a little background, as some of it relates to the recent 2day FM royal debacle.

I'm not really a fan of royalty, and I'm not interested in digging up all the details of the recent 2Day FM prank phone call debacle.  But for the interest of those who may not be completely in the loop, here's a brief description on what has happened over the last week or so.  

As many are aware, Sydney radio station 2Day FM sent a prank phone call through to the hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was pregnant.  The Nurse; Jacinta Saldanha who answered the call fell for the fake call, when she forwarded through to the staff responsible for Middleton's pregnancy.  The staff then gave out private information unknowingly on-air, mistakenly thinking that the radio presenters were actually the royal family.   Three days later, Jacinta was found dead in a room with three suicide notes; the contents of which are unknown. 

The radio station's network Austereo noted that the presenters responsible would be taking an indefinite break, and that the station will give its advertising revenue to the decease's family for the rest of the year.  Considering the huge breach of the station's ethical responsibility and damage, it's a small consolation.

ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) have responded to the incident, most of which can be viewed in the below video.  With my Asperger’s syndrome, I found much of the detail had gone over my head - I'll have to view it a few times to take it in.  But if I had to wager a $5,000 bet at TAB, I can safely bet that 2Day FM will keep broadcasting and keep its license.  In other words, I don't think that ACMA are going to withdraw the station license, we don't want to upset the big boys of the industry now, don't we?


Like past events, the station will most probably cop a fine, and eventually all will be forgotten, and the station will carry on it’s marry way.  Yet on the other hand, I would safely gamble that many out there would find the programming of 2PR more entertaining.  Though this may be easy for me to say on my blog, I could easily wager this one on a bet, and put it forth to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.  Only problem is, no one in these places can be contacted; apparently everyone is permanently out on a meeting.

The reasoning for highlighting such an issue is how this nonsense carries on, but how we at 2PR can't get a license. This is because radio spectrum is for those with the biggest wallets, but certainly not for those who can deliver program material of an interesting and varied nature.   

Things regarding the licensing of 2PR have NOT been great.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty much at the sharp end of discrimination.  I know this 14 letter word has been bandit around many times on this blog, but for someone with disabilities here at the end of 2012; the social ignorance just could not be any worse.  Think of indigenous and women's rights back in the 1930s 1940s - Yes, we disability people are still there. 

To be frank, I feel like I've been psychologically grinded into the ground, I've have found it completely impossible to just set up a face to face meeting with anyone.   Everyone is apparently "busy busy busy busy", either with meetings, Christmas parties, or in one case; someone I was trying to set a meeting up with virtually had the sky falling around them.  I know the reality is that many are flat chat during this time of year. But one can only be fobbed off a certain amount of times before one goes crazy.


In August, things were not good, when we had received a big fat "NO" from the Department of Broadband and Communications.  Though I initially found this devastating, I was able to think of other avenues of getting 2PR FM more known. 

A sponsorship drive was done during October on ex-Alan Jones advertisers, after his "Julia Gillard" statement.  After leaving the Jones show, advertisers would sponsor 2PR FM $20 a month.  The hook of this was to create the headline "Ex-Jones Advertisers jump ship to support disability net station".  Rather then the amount of money, the sponsorship would have been a more symbolic gesture then financial. 

The aim of this was to promote the success of disability people.  That this is just as important as the success of announcers like Alan Jones, and that we all have just as much a right to such rewards when we put the hard yards in.   Incredibly non of the places we wrote off too, keeping in mind that these were national companies, could not find the will to sponsor $20 a month - wow!, that was another eye opener. 

With October rolling on, with the recommendation of some friends, I started a change.com petition.  It talks about the need for 2PR FM, and a letter to the Hon Sen Stephen Conroy.  After doing the facebook and twitter bit, the count stopped at around the mid 30's.  It seems to have done the family and friends round, but that's where it has stopped.  Though somewhat disappointing, I know the petition has to be promoted on a large platform to get a good count.  This seems to be the major challenge. 


I then enquired about getting the petition placed on the NSW "Don't Dis My Ability" website.  The reply letter noted that such a thing could not be done, but to contact them as they would be able to promote it through their social channels.  When attempting to make a number of calls to the contact responsible, it was the usual dance around, trying to find the best time to speak to them.  Again, you guest it, they were at another meeting, so this was another line of enquiry that ended in a slow death.

Another thought was placing a link to my petition on a popular forum, so I could attract more interest.  Within five minutes of placing an article about 2PR FM on to the Whirlpool forum, it was deleted within five minutes; apparently it was "spam".

October was coming to an end, and I'm thinking that I could explore the method of getting 2PR FM's programming syndicated overnight on non-commercial radio stations.  A good starting point seems to be 2RPH, as they would already somehow appreciate the need for those with a disability. 

2RPH is a radio network that reads newspapers and magazines for the visually impaired. After 11:00 at night, through to 7:00 in the morning, they simply relay the BBC which is already relayed on a number of other Sydney radio stations.  Trying to get 2PR FM broadcasting overnights on this network for a trial basis is an option worth pursuing. 

I spent November and most of December trying to get a meeting with the station manager, but they were pretty busy with meetings.  The station apparently rents their studio space in Glebe.  They were renovating their studios, when apparently the landlord decided to get the roof replaced at the same time.  I guess this would be fair enough; this would be pretty stressful for the staff.  They said I should contact them in early February, so that's where that line of enquiry will continue.  At the back of my head, I was kind of hoping to do the trial over Christmas new year, but one has to be patient at these things.  

Unfortunately I didn't know much of this until about ten telephone calls later, when I felt somewhat awkward.  With Asperger’s syndrome, the anxiety of not getting through builds up - it feels like nobody's got the time for me or what I'm trying to represent.  With this, one has to be aware of not getting arrogant or stroppy, as that in no way is going to help my case.  So with this in mind, it is important to realise that I was polite and courteous at all times.  This was even when I felt frustrated and disillusioned; I had to keep my cool.  I may feel that I might have made too many phone calls.  My biggest problem is not knowing when one is being fobbed off, as I've received much of this during my life - I just don't know if people are being genuine or not.  

As a last ditch effort of trying to do something before Christmas, I decided to contact FBI radio, another community based Sydney wide service.  They noted that they didn't want to Syndicate my programming, as they give their overnight time slots to new programmers, in the aspect of training them up, and for them to practice their broadcasting skills. 


It's a strange, eerie, and surreal situation.  It's the reality that I can't hold a face to face conversation with anyone in any position of authority.  Yet on the other hand, those at a special interest group like Aspect NSW absolutely love what I'm doing.  This is so much to the point that some at the meeting I had in Burwood back in September wanted to Volunteer, which was a fantastic feeling.  It is a shame that those at ACMA and the Department of Broadband and Communication, nor any other government department can't share that same spirit of enthusiasm. 

A recent government study noted that they are much more people in Sydney who suffer a disability, then those from an indigenous and Islamic background.  They are currently two stations who have a Sydney wide license, Koori FM 93.7 (indigenous programming), and Voice of Islam (Islamic cultural material).   Incredibly there is no radio station that airs disability issues, in spite of this group being larger then the other two groups combined.

So to sign off on this post, again, rather then a nag, I've pretty much identified the problem, and thus have to try and think of a way to work around it in 2013.  I call this the "RED LINE SYNDROME", where those of a similar socio-economic existence to me love what I’m doing, but when it comes to someone in authority (anyone above the red line", they simply slam the door in my face.  In this case I'm talking about people in authority as those who have a mass exposure at their finger tips, such as a popular website, newspaper, broadcaster, or ultimately, the government broadcasting authorities. 

Yes, even still in 2012, disability issues for the large part are still being hush hushed - if only we could share the same amount of news coverage as boat illegals...... but that's where I'll end it for today.