with Tim Richie: ABC Radio National - Presenter, Editor
& Producer of Sound Quality - 15th May 2003
42, married for the last 8 years, two dogs and my
first baby is on the way... so that sounds pretty
safe and normal, but there's another story. I started
at double jay [the AM
band, Sydney precursor to Triple
J] in 1976 and worked my way through uni doing
mid-dawns... then in the 80s - it was a really wild
time and I was a bit of a wild lad.... but then I
met Rebecca in 1992, and found that there was this
other life that was stable [but not boring] and the
"going out" music scene had certainly lost
did you get your break?
was running early for my school bus and didn't like
the fill in breakfast announcer at double jay, so
I called up to tell him how to do things better, and
he said if I knew that much I should come in the next
day and do the breakfast program. A Mercedes picked
me up the next morning at 5.30.... and 27 years later,
here I am.
many listeners to do you have?
is a strong feeling that the official ratings do not
do justice to ABC Radio,
especially Radio National. Having said that, I get
20,000 listeners to the 5 Cap Cities [jargon for Syd,
Melb, Bris, Perth, Adel]... the ABC has a formula
that adds another 25% for regional listeners [Radio
National has more than 260 transmitters across the
country] - so that's 25,000, then add the live streaming
and audio on demand listeners and the listeners via
the ABC's international service, Radio Australia [which
takes my program] and your guess is as good as mine.
Domestic radio listeners and online listeners is a
bit over 30,000... but internationally on Radio Australia...
is the music selection process?
get tons of releases per week from record companies
- the Majors and independents in Aust and independents
who know what I play from o/s. Then on top of that
I get what used to be called demos from acts that
make music that has not been released. I don't really
see it as "demos" it's all music. So from
these 100s of CDs each week I trawl through and gems
stick out and I put them in a pile for air. Then there's
this weird thing that happens, I basically sit on
the floor of my office and the covers remind me of
the sounds [I have great retention for sound - and
that's both good and bad]... and the program picks
itself. It's very organic and I can't really explain,
but after all these years of listening to music, it
becomes something that just happens... I can't explain
it to my satisfaction, so I'm sure readers will think
it a bit herbal.
is the demographic of your audience?
don't get stats that specific, but from the feedback
and type of music that I program, it's people who
are interested in finding out what more there is to
music beyond the play lists of computer program driven,
formatted, researched radio. If you have to have a
demographic that isn't "people who love new music",
I say thirty plus.
many people are on your e-mail list?
goes up by a couple a day [and one or two drop off]...
currently [like right this second] there is 1323 who
get the weekly play list email.
has the internet helped and hindered you?
made more work even for the relatively simple site
for my program... but it has been a fantastic boon
for access to artists, research, listeners and has
helped the profile of the program.
fantastic buzz I get all the time from finding great
you have any mentors, and if so, who?
from the early days of double jay - Russell
Guy, Stuart Cranney and Mac
are your influences?
70s early 80s dub, Kraftwerk,
Pere Ubu, hip hop, chilli [not a band, but
a spice], anarchy and irreverence, manners and charm
[spot the contradictions]
technical equipment do you use?
a really simple set up... two CD player, a mic and
a digital console [Klotz/Vardis] with a digital recorder/replay
are some of the hot Australian bands / groups to watch
hard.... I get 5 CDRs a week from people who have
the potential to make a difference to the music scene...
listen to my program and you'll know what's on the
is the biggest compliment you have ever received?
get them all the time, e-mails from nameless listeners
who simply appreciate what I do... that means more
to me that people I know telling me what they think
I want to hear.
is the biggest misconception about you?
know everything there is to know about music.
record producers or bands ever try to bribe you?
did in the 80s, but budgets have shrunk a lot since
freedom of the press in the music industry?
probably best typified by the online magazine Cyclic
are your thoughts on digital rights management?
expression can mean different things to different
people, I'll choose an easy one. Embedded in data
should be a reference to let people know the source
of the work, and that source should be recognised
[not necessarily financially].
is MTV good and bad for the industry?
was bad as it narrowed the listening experience to
those acts with a certain sound and enough $s to make
a shmick video, now I think it is less of a problem.
It is just another outlet, not as powerful as it was,
and probably more interesting now.
will the ABC funding situation mean to
soon to tell, but I would like to think that the specialist
nature of Radio National would be something that the
Australian public and the ABC want to make sure continues,
and grows. As the net has taught us - content is king.
your not doing Sound Quality, what do you do?
Radio National, I'm in charge of all the technical
facilities across the country and the sound engineers
that use them. I'm also responsible for the overall
sound of the network. I liaise with all other parts
of the ABC on technical and transmission issues [lucky
I've got Sound Quality or I'd be a tense chap]. Outside
of the ABC, my gal is the best thing that has happened
to me. I can't spend too much time with her. We cook,
walk the dogs and laugh a lot.
instruments can you play?
used to play a bass, but that was many years ago.
In the 80s I programmed drum machines, but the instruments
I can use best are my ears and turntables.
are your future goals?
find happiness every day, if I have a day where there
is no fun, then I'll make sure that the circumstances
that brought that day about don't happen again. Life
has to be great, you only get one go [from my point
of view] so you have to find joy in the routine, excitement
in the minutiae.
the funniest or craziest things that ever
happened to you at work?
a 15 course meal [with different flavours from around
the world] during a music shift mid-dawn.
else would you like to share with our audience?
you stop enjoying or appreciating new sounds and ideas
in music... you'll become your parents. Music and
fun makes me grow younger each year.
Radio National: Sound Quality
DIG Internet Radio