1972. Nowra, NSW. I clearly remember Dad driving me home from Guides. I was 10 years old and telling him about my friend Robin, who had just gained a badge.
In case you aren’t aware, badges were a big thing in Guides. Possibly still are. My memory is very foggy here, because to be quite honest I didn’t ever take too much notice of badges, but I think there were badges for things like making hospital corners on beds (there must have been because I still do them perfectly), and badges for finding resourceful ways of getting your little brother to stop bothering you.
I found throwing darts at him to be quite effective.
Anyway, driving home with Dad and telling him about Robin getting a badge … for radio. It was a radio badge. The Girl Guide hierarchy possibly thought that learning about communication was more useful than throwing darts at your brother, but each to her own I say.
My Dad was/is a very quiet man. Quietly spoken and getting quieter with age and Parkinsons. Some describe his quiet speech as mumbling, a bit like Pa in the Hillbilly Bears, but people just need to listen harder. Dad would sit back in conversations and only contribute when he had something funny, interesting, witty, insightful to say. He tended to tell stories rather than adding general chit-chat to the conversation, and when telling a funny story he would often laugh himself silly well before the end, thus making it difficult to understand the story at all.
Dad was keen to encourage me, the quietest (most contrary… hey, who let my mother in here?) of his three quiet children, to be less like him; and in the car that afternoon on the way home from Guides he said one of the hardest things about radio is being able to say your own name and not feel silly. Give it a try.
Ten year old me sat there feeling silly about saying my own name.
Hello. I’m Sharon Pittaway.
No radio badge for me.
1991. Wynyard, Tasmania. A high school P&F meeting. Talk of the local community radio station needing presenters. Me tuning in and for some reason thinking: I can do better than that. What do you mean you can do better than that, the rational half of my brain yelled as I drove to the radio station for my audition. The non-rational half of my brain (the big half) wasn’t listening. It propelled me up the steps, through the door, into the voice booth and made me read the script as if I’d been doing it since I was 10 years old.
I started working in radio.
I said my name. Dad was right. It was hard and I felt silly.
But I learnt that there are times in your life when you have to do what seems hard and what seems silly. And it becomes less hard and less silly over time and the next thing you know you’re working for ABC Local Radio and Peter Cundall is telling everyone how you gorged on broad beans while the news was on and it was the most disgusting thing he’s ever seen, and you’re laughing so hard that you can’t say your own name.
The ten year old me gives a little smile and a nod, and pushes a homemade radio badge into the pocket of her Girl Guide uniform.
Jill set me a challenge for this week: to write about things I’ve learnt … not from teachers or from university, but the odd, scrounged learnings I’ve picked up along the way.
After writing this I learnt that a little part of me is yearning to go back to radio.