Crikey readers responded strongly to Paul Collins’ piece yesterday on the demise of specialist broadcasting on Radio National”:

Nigel Warwick writes: I have just sent the following email to ABC complaints in support of Stephen Crittenden. Thanks for the article on Crikey and link to Stephen’s comments from this morning. We could all see this coming but it’s ironic they’re doing what the previous government would have loved to have happened. Keep up the good work at Crikey:

To whom it may concern (to be forwarded to ABC Radio Mgt),

I would like to support the comments made by Mr Crittenden on this morning’s Religion Report, where he expressed his concern about the removal of a number of Radio National’s flagship programmes. It is sad indeed that the decision has been made to emasculate Radio National in such a manner. These programmes are well-structured, balanced and the few remaining that have any deep and critical analysis of current issues in religion, law and sport etc.

I dread to think of the pap that is going to replace these intelligent, critically analytical and nationally important programmes. I can barely contemplate the thought of yet another programme dishing up comments such as “send us an email and tell us what you think about…” to replace serious journalism. Having just been in the UK and seen what dross the BBC is now being forced to serve up in the push for “relevance”, I can only imagine that the ABC management, like lemmings, have signed up with the same media strategic planning fad.

I can only assume that we are headed down the same road that ABC Local Radio has gone, where everyone is referred to as “mate” and serious analysis is replaced by interviews which are poorly hidden advertisements or where the current crop of presenters demonstrate there own lack of education or breadth of knowledge and chat as if they’re propping the bar at the “local”. Or perhaps that’s why it’s called “local radio”!

I’m looking forward to an ABC version of Kochy and Mel doing a more “socially relevant” form of the Religion Report. Still I shouldn’t be surprised as it was inevitable that the ABC would move down this path of trite “relevance” in pursuit of market share and under pressure from the government bean-counters. Which they may get, but then it’ll just be a copy of Seven, Nine and Ten and 2GB and all that lot.

Well, we won’t need Radio National then, and the government can then crow about its bigger budget surplus and the ABC management about the masculinity of it budget cutting measures (but not the large “productivity” bonuses paid to its Senior Managers for their fiscal rectitude).

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Warwick

JJ Carmody writes: The ABC spokesperson is lying. Stephen Crittenden was EXPLICITLY told last week that The Religion Report and other programs which require expertise — is being “decommissioned”. It’s not just to be another presenter. The result is, as Paul Collins rightly says, not just a loss of knowledge by ABC personnel, it meant the loss of authority in ABC news and current affairs. Where there is expertise (science, medicine, religion etc) NCAF journalists call ask and be informed by their colleagues; those colleagues can prod the NCAF people when they don’t report properly or don’t report at all. Education which used to have a “Report”) is a classic example.

ABC reporting on education — such as it is — has absolutely no authority. And (apart from money and climate change) what more important area — even for the “future”, which seems to be the concern of ABC Radio “Management) has been a constant in national life for some years. Not only is it “important”, it’s complex. ABC NCAF (News & Current Affairs) essentially ignores the field — precisely because there’s no specialised unit and, therefore, no expertise. Consequently, all ABC authority is lost.

Mark Jeanes writes: What an outstanding decision to remove the Religion Report from Radio National programming! Tales of warring bishops were the height of tedium, but that’s not the point. I’m willing to lay a bet with the Devil for a golden fiddle that Radio National’s listenership has a disproportionate representation of agnostics and atheists. And why wouldn’t it? Study after study show education levels are inversely correlated with religious belief. Good on you Sue Howard. A cracking blow for rational thought. We don’t need to hear the deluded views of people who believe in Jesus, Allah or Yaweh any more than we need to hear people who believe in Zeus, Ra, Huey the Surf God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Philip Woods writes: Paul Collins attempted to give reasons why religion should be given prime airtime on RN. Get over it Paul, religion is nothing more than man-made hocus pocus created to subjugate the will and wallets of those needing a supernatural fix. Crittenden’s opening show comment was that “religion vies with economics as the determinant for everything that goes on in the world”. Really? Maybe that is why the world is in the toilet. Bring on the RN cuts.

Kevin Silberberg writes: What else would you expect from the Sydney dominated ABC? Vulgarity, as exemplified by the worst aspects of American “culture”, abounds at the geographical location of the ABC’s management. In time, there may be a change, although it will probably be too late for persons of my age. At least I can take solace from the fact that I have enjoyed the halcyon days of quality broadcasting and journalism.

Colin Nichol writes: Good points Paul Collins makes about the ABC’s specialist programming. Bravo for the talented Stephen Crittenden in revealing apparent ABC future plans. The programmes referred to for removal are brilliant. If there’s anything that needs change, for some, it is only the time of day they are broadcast. But they must not get rid of them. Perhaps the whole thing is a try-on?

Kevin McCready writes: We could certainly do with one less religious/new age crap program on Radio National. But it’s a pity to see the Media Report and the international award winning Radio Eye get the chop. As for their recent survey, they left you out again Crikey — the survey designers seemed to have no idea that huge amounts of info now come to people via email subs.

Stephen Magee writes: As a vaguely right of left of centre Catholic, I’ve never agreed with all of Stephen Crittenden’s views, but I’m stunned that the ABC is dropping The Religion Report. Crittenden is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful broadcasters on the ABC, and it beggars belief that he should be getting the axe.

Lyn McGaurr writes: If this decision has already been made and the direction is as suggested by the ABC spokesperson quoted by Crikey yesterday, what is the point of the ABC Radio National survey currently being pushed hard on air and to those of use who receive Radio National email alerts about the specialist programs we love so much?

Chris Fowler writes: We need to urgently mount an extraordinary campaign against these ABC changes and we need to do it as a matter of urgency. You have started; please, please continue it with all the vigour of which you are capable.

Marie Geissler writes: It would be a great loss to public broadcasting if the Religion Report and the Media Report were dropped. Great that you drew attention to this.

Meanwhile…

Stephen Lieschke writes: I’d like to question why the ABC is still obsessed with cricket. Vast space is devoted to this arcane and for most people very boring broadcasting on the local networks all summer, which is odd given the gutting of RN, but consistent with the move towards dumbing down auntie.

Peter Fray

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