In these Radiowaves-exclusive articles, legendary presenter Pat Courtenay shares his views, ideas, experience, and tips with our visitors…

In this week’s column Pat talks about knock-backs…


I’m not working on the Radio at the moment. That partially sucks. I’m sporadically employed producing corporate and promotional video. That’s interesting but it’s not happening every day.

One thing about not working full-time is the hours are great! The money’s shite, but. So I apply for a few things here and there that’ll help me contribute to my own wine bill but will demand sufficiently little of my time that I can take a crew out on a shoot when I need to. A couple of weeks ago I applied for some media liaison job with the Chamber of Commerce here in Australia’s Northern Territory. The gig was me to a ‘t.’ Doing media releases and telling suits how to behave with the Media? Too easy. Obviously whoever finally got the gig enjoys the sight of buttocks in close-up because no one could possibly have beaten me on qualifications and experience!

But, hey! The NT Chamber of Commerce wishes me good luck with future applications, and I feel great about my lack of success in this case because the standard of applications was very high and they had enormous difficulty with the task of awarding the position. They’re clearly devastated that I won’t be joining them and they’re going to keep my Curriculum Vitae on their file for further reference….so that’s OK. I’ll sleep easy tonight! Bollocks.

Sound familiar? Does it sound like the PD who wishes you “all the best with your future career,” at the end of the kiss-off letter? Is there anything more final and death-knellish-sounding than some clown you’ve never met wishing you all the best with a future he clearly doesn’t intend spending with you…or with any of the other many worthies who got exactly the same piece of word-processed condescension?

A few months ago I sent a demo to a place that I didn’t want to work in just to see what would happen; small town of about 60,000 in peak tourist season. You’ll probably believe me when I say it was a reasonably good sample of my wares.

A Network lackey luxuriating in the title of Programme Director sent me that sort of letter, including the stock bit about my “future.” Then he made the dumbest mistake of all: he offered me the opportunity to contact him so that he could give me some “comments and advice.”

Now, because I have a certain amount of ability with Radio, the great majority of the PDs I’ve worked with have been First Division. I’ve been spoiled. There is however, a big gap between First Division and The Rest. This guy is with The Rest and (I happen to know) owes his job to his fondness for the flavour of his superiors’ posteriors.

I e-mailed him, enthusing about the opportunity to benefit from his “comments and advice.” Words like “experience” appeared in close proximity to references to “major-market Programme Director.” My open-faced eagerness was leaping off his monitor screen…three times over three months…without response.

Did this smug bastard for once wish that he’d written a slightly different kiss-off letter? Why didn’t he just write, “Look, you don’t sound like we can afford you. If you’d like to talk about that, call me.”? Why didn’t he write, “Yeah, you’re hot but how long is someone like you going to stay in a small Outback town like Killaroo?”

It’s a bit like used-car yards with their, “Great Value,” “Low Mileage,” “Easy Finance.” The first one who comes up with a new way to say this same old shite will so stand out from the rest. PDs, be honest. Take responsibility. Try to help. Stop condescending. “All the best with your future career” implies that we need luck to replace our lack of talent. Even if that’s true, is it helpful?

Many of us have been in a position to notice that almost all PDs are crap on air. Good PDs however, exhibit no jealousy in this regard; they like to see the Talent earning more than they do, because it means the revenue is up and PDs get a lot of kudos when that happens.

Bad PDs are bullying control-freaks who will never get over the fact that they never “made it” on the air. PDs, be honest…and firstly, with yourselves.

Next: Bad Taste