By Stephen Mayne

ABC chairman Donald McDonald, a personal mate of the PM, was installed to rein in Aunty. Instead, he went native and actually works pretty hard to preserve and build the national broadcaster.

Sure enough, there was Donald at the 50th Walkley Awards last Thursday night sitting next to Sydney newsreader Juanita Phillips and generally enjoying the evening as Aunty scooped the pool with 14 gongs.

Donald is also quite prepared to open up the boardroom to individual broadcasters, which is exactly what he is doing for new 702 ABC Sydney Morning host Virginia Trioli, who was back in Melbourne on the Insiders couch on Sunday.

Trioli will be the guest of honour at Donald’s boardroom lunch on 12 December, with a guest that list extends far and wide and will apparently include the likes of spin doctor Ian Kortlang and NSW Art Gallery director Edmund Capon.

Donald and Trioli both share a love of the arts, so they’ll probably get along just fine, which is probably not what was expected given that Trioli is sometimes criticised for being a trendy lefty while John Howard’s mate is meant to be a warrior of the Right.

Crikey is filling in for ABC 702 Melbourne morning host Jon Faine for the last two weeks before Christmas, but don’t expect Donald to fly south and host a boardroom lunch for some stop-gap blow-in.

If anyone can suggest stories to occupy some of the 35 hours of live radio without ads or much music, please email [email protected] as I’m already having trouble sleeping.