Roll of Honour

Earlier today I was really proud to speak at the launch of the “Soundscape” project at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Briefly, I was on stage with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Director of the AWM, a representative from Google (they’re building an app), and with a young student who participated in the project.

In short, primary school age students from all over the country have come into ABC Local Radio studios to record the names of those who appear on the WW1 Roll Of Honour. The soundscape will play at the AWM over the next four years. It’s also been turned into a radio broadcast which runs on digital radio, streaming and mobile all this week. Details are here http://www.abc.net.au/radio/digital/extra/4051261.htm

Hope you like the photographs and here’s what I had to say about the ABC’s involvement…

I would like to say how very proud the team from ABC Local Radio has been to work on this project

What seemed like a very simple idea when it was first proposed, has gone on to become really important, and very, very touching. One of our Regional Managers, Gaye Pattison from ABC Goulburn Murray in Wodonga, told me, and I quote, “This has been one of the sweetest and most sincere projects I’ve been involved with. Loved it from start to finish”. Another senior network manager told me in an email today, and I quote, “I’m a bit of a weeper at the best of times and this has completely done me in”.

For ABC Local Radio, this has involved staff in thirty-five regional stations. Our regional stations have only a small staff. Generally half a dozen. The manager of the station also usually presents the Breakfast Show, and then when he or she is finished doing that, they come off air and do everything else to lead their team. For them, this Soundscape Project has often involved a lot of extra work. But for many of them, it was a matter of personal passion. Andrew Dunkley, our Manager and Breakfast presenter at ABC Western Plains in Dubbo has recently published a book about his grandfather’s experiences in World War 1. Reter Riley, our Manager and Breakfast presenter at 97.3 ABC Illawarra in Wollongong spent 10 years of his life in the navy, and comes from a family of people who’ve dedicated their lives to war service over a number of generations.

As the school children came in to our stations they had great stories to tell. Nicole Bond, who leads our team at ABC Western Queensland recorded the stories of children in her vast patch who drove up to 400 kilometres to come into our radio station. There was a great response all over the country, including for our team at ABC South Coast in Albany, Western Australia. Later this year, that team lead by Andrew Collins, will also contribute to a national live broadcast on ABC Local Radio of activities around the anniversary of the first troops leaving for Europe from there.

The team from ABC Local Radio in Western Australia have also been approached by the memorial there to do something similar with names of people in that state. And right now, on our pop up radio station, ABC Extra, we’re running part of the soundscape for the entire week. So if you have a digital radio, or if you have a mobile phone, or you can listen online, if you tune to “Roll Of Honour on ABC Extra” you’ll hear the soundscape anywhere in Australia, or indeed anywhere in the world until midnight Friday. Visit abc.net.au/radio

It was a wonderful project to be involved in, especially to hear about how the students practiced and researched the names they recited. I was particularly touched by the comments of one of the children who came into our studios at Longreach. When he asked what he had learned from the project, he simply replied “That they were all real people. They weren’t just made up names”.