Hard News by Russell Brown

Tired but happy

When you've been doing something as long as I've been doing Hard News in its various forms - 13 years, that is - you wonder if you haven't already said everything you want to say about Christmas and the Great New Zealand Summer already.

I checked. My oath, I was stroppy back in the day. The radio broadcast for Christmas 1995 wrapped up the year, bagging John Banks and making fun of Deborah Coddington. Plus ca change and all that. I was, curiously, banging on about trade in 1997, and Iraq and the SIS in 1998. And get me in 1999, still giddy with the new Labour government and pronouncing grandly on the millennium.

Nothing so weighty today. I'm tired but happy at the prospect of a change of pace. I just hope summer arrives before we go away on holiday next month.

As the media moves into summer mode, I'm looking forward to Jeremy Ansell's 10-part Split Enz documentary Enzology, five years in the making, which launches at 3pm on New Year's Day on National Radio and plays at the same time every Saturday until it's done (repeats are 9pm Tuesdays). Jeremy is the best radio engineer I've worked with, a diligent musicologist and a longtime member of Frenz of the Enz. I don't think there's anyone in the world better placed to make the definitive sound history of Split Enz.

There's actually a lot of interesting music programming on National Radio over the break. The first episode of Enzology is followed by a Helen Young retrospective, a local hip-hop wrap-up and a replay of the Dimmer session at the Helen Young before the soothing balm of Peter Fry is applied at 7pm.

The Classic Concerts series opens at 3pm on Monday the 27th with the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl and includes Talking Heads from the 1983 Stop Making Sense tour on the Tuesday and a Nambassa festival feature on Wednesday the 29th. I'm quite intrigued as to what sort of "diverse, interesting and eclectic music tracks" Bryan Crump might play in the 11pm-midnight hour of his weeknight summer residency.

I'll be playing music in what would normally be my 12-2pm Wednesday Wire slots on 95bFM. I'm likely to be leaning towards the vinyl archive.

The 'Summer of Rock' feature in the January 1 issue of the Listener, written by Gordon Campbell and Bianca Zander with pictures by Jane Ussher, is better than the name would suggest: great, actually. It asks Dave Dobbyn, Shayne Carter, Heather Mansfield, Bic Runga, Chris Knox, Kirsten Morelle, P Money, David Kilgour, SJD and others what floats their boats, musically speaking.

I also blathered merrily about music to Grant Smithies of the Star Times for a summer music feature that I guess will be in this or next weekend. I'll blather to anyone about music.

Having been offered a post-midnight pass-out for New Year's Eve, I have made the necessary arrangements to attend Lightspeed New Yeah at Morrisson, which looks like my sort of a late one. Stinky Jim plays 12.30-2am. I look forward to seeing The Checks on the Top of the Pops special earlier in the evening. Apparently the kids were crazy for them at the recording.

And I am certain to be listening to Shaft's career-encapsulating Open Sesame album if we ever get a sunny day on the deck. If you're thinking of giving indie, I'm saying give Shaft.

And with that, I hereby offer my annual apology to anyone whose email deserved a reply but didn't get one. I'd like to thank all the Public Address crew, our occasional guests, and especially our most excellent developers CactusLab. Thanks are also due to our advertisers, and especially to Pead PR, Karajoz and Festival Mushroom Records, who all got what Public Address is about.

Fraternal greetings also to the rest of the local blogosphere, even the grumpy ones who need to get out more. Mad props to Dog Biting Men, Fighting Talk, David Farrar, No Right Turn and Rodney Hide. Also, I'm still loving being part of bFM. It is very special.

Looking back on 2004, I'm so proud of our older son, who is mildly autistic but has blossomed at school in the last six months. There are still some things he isn't wired to do, but his teacher reported that other kids in the class actually started to seek out his unique point of view as the year went on. We tend to hear a lot of angry stuff about schools, but an education system that helps foster that deserves real credit.

It's been an excellent year for Public Address. The number of visits per month has nearly doubled to 74,000 in November, and as of yesterday stood at more than 640,000 for the year. Thanks for turning up, everybody. December, moreover, has been a useful month in commercial terms. Internet advertising has begun to move past the stage of numbing mega-banners and into something a bit smarter, and I like to think we've done our bit to aid that progress. I have some ideas for 2005.

But for now, we go a little quieter. There will still be posts from the crew and me, and I'll still send out some emails to the mailing list, but it's time for a little rest. I think I can fairly say we deserve it. Merry Christmas, everybody.