After a bit of a creative break following my 100th episode, The Wandering Journo is back with a cracking kick off to series 5 of Streets of Your Town.
I’ve just returned from one of the most exciting secondments of my now three-decade journalism career—to the Cathedral of Sport the great MCG, where I was part of the National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS) team covering the 2023 AFL grand final between Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions.
And in this episode I have brought back a glimpse of the action behind the scenes from the broadcast box, where the incredible NIRS commentators call the grand final live, broadcasting it out to some of the most remote communities in outback Australia—areas that even the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s vast network doesn’t reach.
Indigenous players are the backbone of this great Australian game, and I speak to two NIRS broadcasting legends, Ron Rogers and former Collingwood player Chris Egan, about their insights into the magic that Aboriginal players bring to Australian Rules Football.
We also talk about the privilege they feel broadcasting ball-by-ball to hopefully plant the seeds of dreams for more Indigenous players from remote communities to become part of the great game.
Ron says Indigenous players bring mystique to AFL because of the freedom with which they play.
“It’s very much an intuitive thing and they read the game so well.” Ron said. “They know what’s happening before it happens.
“There’s something mystical about how good they are and it always fascinated me.”
This was Ron’s 25th grand final call, and not only does he do the commentary, but he sets up the microphones and equipment before each game to broadcast on the AFL website, and to NIRS affiliated radio stations around the country.
“It’s not as glamorous as it might sound,” he said. “Part of my role is to carry the gear with me so I do all the setting up of the gear.
“I live two hours from Melbourne so it’s a two-hour drive each way for me. So it’s a long day and then once the game’s done and the broadcast is over, I pack up and go home.
“But look, we’re a bit spoiled. We have the best room in the house and we’ve got a great view and if you love the game, it’s a pretty good gig.”
Chris Egan is also a NIRS commentator from the 2023 AFL grand final. He’s a former footballer for Collingwood who brings his distinct knowledge as a grand final player to the team, and he was kind enough to speak to me, before the grand final began.
“Just watching any Indigenous player out there doing what they do is just always a pleasure to watch,” Egan said.
“It looks intuitive. It looks pretty easy to a lot of them in terms of talent and all that sort of stuff. I was blessed with talent, but there’s also a lot of hard work behind it—that’s thousands and thousands of kicks and handballs at the park.
“They do it all the time and it’s like watching art come to life, really.”
You can listen to the NIRS football commentary every AFL game of the season live on the AFL website or live on the NIRS website.
State Library of Queensland to add Streets of Your Town to its collection!
I have great news Streets of Your Towners! Part of the reason I’ve slowed down so much these last few months and having a bit of a creative break between seasons is that the State Library of Queensland is negotiating with me to buy the digital rights to my podcast series.
This is seriously MASSIVE news. The library is expanding its digital collection and told me that my podcasts are an important historical record. I feel vindicated! That my crazy podcast idea of doing stories just on the people I meet on my other journalism jobs, or at the parking lot or on my adventures in Mildred the cantankerous Kombi, can become such an incredible experience completely.
The only hassle is that this that I now have to do 70 transcripts of those episodes for the library. Which is incredibly time consuming of course. So that’s held me up the last couple of months trying to complete them.
I’m juggling completing the transcripts with producing my other podcast projects as well as Streets of Your Town and also my work part-time as senior reporter at the National Indigenous Radio service.
Keeping Kids Safe podcast project
One of the podcast projects I’ve been working on is the Keeping Kids Safe—A Bright Futures podcast for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.
It’s such a brave series, talking about topics that we as parents and adults have nightmares about—how to keep our children safe from sexual predators. But this podcast gives you proactive tools to overcome that fear as safely as you can on a range of topics, with tips such as e-safety for your under fives, the importance of keeping communication lines open with your kids, and legal aspects and differences between states from Australian Federal police Commander Helen Schneider and Youth Law Australia’s Carolyn Jones.
The last episode of Keeping Kids Safe featured Griffith University criminologist Dr Danielle Harris talking about what parents can do in the wake of the shocking child exploitation case where a former childcare worker has been arrested on more than 1000 charges of exploiting children.
Dr Harris explains there is not one solution to stopping this type of crime—that it’s a multi-layered approach that is needed. She is convinced that police checks and blue cards alone are not enough to protect our children from sexual harm, much as we might like to think that tightening up those checks is the solution. In the podcast she is urging governments at all levels to work together to put in place a range of measures to prevent paedophiles from gaining access to work in child care centres.
These include safer recruitment processes and keeping track of employees, as frequent movement to different jobs is one of the biggest warning signs that something is amiss. Also aspects we rarely hear about, such as the importance of better design for child care centres so they are as open plan as possible to prevent abuse, being aware of red flags such as overly familiar conduct by staff and the importance of sharing suspicious behaviour between child care centres as part of reducing risk.
This podcast is a really helpful to start difficult conversations to shine light on this hidden topic. Please share it widely with your friends because sharing information on these difficult topics is powerful and gives us all as a society the tools we need to better protect our children.
Here’s the link to Danielle’s episode of Keeping Kids Safe—A Bright Futures podcast on the Omny platform:
Talk to you again soon my Wandering Journo tribe! Hit reply to this email if you have any ideas for people I could interview for Streets of Your Town once the rush is over!